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Rally falls short again

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            Another tough effort for New England fell just short, as the Patriots fell 21-13 to Minnesota Sunday night.  

For the third straight game the Patriots were within one score on its final possession, thanks in large part to the efforts of running back Kevin Faulk and wide receiver Terry Glenn. Faulk again showed signs of creating a running attack, as he gained 80 yards on 13 carries, while Glenn was active in the passing game for the second consecutive week.

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            With his team down by a touchdown and starting at its own 36-yard line with 2:06 remaining, the back put New England in striking distance. On the first play of the drive, Faulk ran 15 yards up the middle on a draw. After the two-minute warning stopped play, Faulk caught a short pass from Drew Bledsoe over the middle and ran 23 yards to the Minnesota 17-yard line. Glenn provided a big block on the play, allowing Faulk to gain and extra half-dozen yards before running out of bounds.  

The drive stalled after a 3-yard pass to Faulk moved New England to the 14-yard line. The final three plays resulted in two passes thrown away and a sack, as the Patriots fell to 0-3.

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            "Unfortunately we couldn't play more consistently," Head Coach Bill Belichick said. "Eventually that's what we need to learn to do. I don't expect anyone to be happy about us being 0-3, but we are going to come back and be ready for a divisional game next week."  

The loss was especially frustrating because of the late momentum the Patriots had. After the defense forced the Vikings to go three-and-out on their first possession of the fourth quarter, Faulk returned a punt 19 yards to the Minnesota 43.

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            Bledsoe hit Chris Calloway for a 15-yard pass, followed by a 9-yard run by Faulk. On second down from the Minnesota 19, Bledsoe and Glenn (8 catches, 69 yards) connected for a 10-yard pass. Three plays later the two hooked up on an 8-yard touchdown pass to make the score 21-13.  

Faulk and Glenn were also responsible for the Patriots first touchdown of the game. After Minnesota scored first for a 7-0 lead, Glenn caught two passes for 21 yards and also drew a 31-yard pass interference call on the ensuing drive to get the ball to the 2-yard line. Faulk then ran the ball in for a touchdown to help tie the game.

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            The efforts were not quite enough though. Bledsoe, who finished 21-of-35 for 190 yards and a touchdown, was obviously worn emotionally after the game. The team did score touchdowns on two of its five trips to the red zone, but the quarterback said the team still has to do more.  

"I think we've shown we can compete," Bledsoe said, referring to three close losses to teams that are a combined 9-0 after three weeks. "But competing is not the bottom line. We have to win."

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            The late rally was helped by a defensive rebound from a rough first half. After allowing touchdowns on Minnesota's first three possessions, New England's defense buckled down the rest of the way. Lawyer Milloy forced a fumble and intercepted a pass in the second half, but neither turnover resulted in points for the Patriots.  

Greg Spires played a strong game in reserve for New England, as he recorded one-and-a-half sacks and a fumble recovery late in the game. Spires saw extended action when defensive end Willie McGinest suffered a minor leg injury in the third quarter and was removed from the game.

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