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Quick Kicks: Mon 10/15 post-Seattle notes

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That's usually what Tuesdays are for, but with another narrow, stinging loss so fresh in everyone's minds, plus the jet-lag factor, Bill Belichick and his staff may have felt it best to let the players simply get home and get over this game right away.

The team will be back at work on Tuesday, the normal weekday off in the NFL, to begin preparations for Jets Week. In advance of that, Belichick and his coordinators just held conference calls with the media to put a wrap on New England's 24-23 loss to the Seahawks.

This latest defeat, the Patriots' third in 2012, is another example of the team not being able to hold onto late leads or capitalize on their opponents mistakes to preserve what should have been a victory.

Belichick was asked if the reason for this was a lack of mental toughness in his team.

"Sure, I think that's part of it," the head coach conceded. "There are a lot of different adjectives you can use to describe it, but in the end, it comes down to situational awareness, reaching down in the end of the game, in terms of performance, overall execution. But when you get down to the end of the fourth quarter, the whole game really now hinges on just a handful of plays… maybe just one play… that determine the outcome of the game.

"Mental toughness is part of it… it's not any one person or one thing. Collectively, all the units are involved. We have to work harder to get it at a higher level."

"It's really frustrating," wide receiver Wes Welker told reporters right after the game in the visitors locker room. "We just have to get back to work. Work on these things and pushing through and winning these games in the end.

"We talk about playing good 60 minutes of football and we just seemed to come up just a little bit short. Close games like this, especially when we have the lead like we did in the fourth quarter, you got to be able to put it away and we just weren't able to do it."

Those sentiments were echoed by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who bemoaned his offense's lack of production in the red zone (New England came away with just one touchdown in six visits Sunday in Seattle).

He also explained the controversial decision to go for pay dirt with six second remaining in the first half and the ball on the Seahawks' 3-yard line, rather than kick a sure field goal. QB Tom Brady ended up being penalized for intentional grounding, which, with the applicable 10-second run-off of the game clock in that situation, brought the first half to an abrupt end, even though there would have been just enough time left to attempt a kick.

"We practice that a lot and understand the dynamic that's at play there. We knew we had to go quick, Tom knew he had to throw the ball quick – to find a receiver fast or throw it away quickly. We practice that numerous times," McDaniels stressed, adding that he was confident, based on experience, that it could succeed.

"Unfortunately, we incurred the penalty there… where we ended up putting the ball on the play changed the result. But we've executed and run that situation before and we tried to do it the right way."

There was also some discussion of Seattle's game-winning touchdown, a 46-yard bomb by rookie QB Russell Wilson to receiver Sidney Rice, who'd beaten New England's base defense and ailing secondary."

"On that particular play, [the Seahawks] I wouldn't say max-protected, but they kept everybody in except for two receivers, then they leaked a guy out late. They put some extra protection in to try to throw the ball deep," Belichick explained. "If the pass rush had been better, the coverage been better, had we been in something other than [base defense] when that play was called – of course, that's part of it, too.

"The bottom line is, though… we have to be able to execute what's called. I think we had enough people back there, on paper, we just didn't have it covered. I mean, look, I'm not trying to put the blame on the players… we could have been in something else. That's part of the coaches' fault as well."

One of the bright spots in the loss was the return of Aaron Hernandez. The tight end caught six passes, including a touchdown, in his first game action since injuring his right ankle in Week 2.

"Aaron made some key plays. We limited some of the things we do with him," McDaniels acknowledged, "but he made some important plays for us – got some drives started with positive plays, made a couple of third-down conversions, and ended up scoring on the goal line. We thought he could help us and contribute. I thought Aaron tried to do exactly what we wanted him to do with his opportunities. Hopefully, that'll continue to improve as we go forward."

For more Patriots-Seahawks post-game coverage, visit patriots.com for analysis and reaction, plus our weekly After Further Review film breakdown feature.

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