The disappointment on Cam Newton's face after fumbling away a potential win in Buffalo was obvious. Newton had just played a bounce-back game for the Patriots and was poised to cap off a comeback win that put his team back into the division championship picture.
But just like that it was over and the Pats were headed to a fourth-straight defeat.
"I felt like for me personally, one play can make you feel like the man or make you feel as low as the lowest man," said Newton on Friday afternoon. "For me going back and looking at the film, it was a great week of preparation and then it just came down to ball security. But all in all, as the offense, we're extremely close. If we keep stacking bricks upon bricks upon bricks and hopefully we can put a full 60 minutes together this weekend."
It wasn't quite a full 60 minutes against the Bills but it was close. Getting a second week of a normal practice schedule paid off, as the gameplan looked better-tailored to Newton's strengths. The quarterback has made process but acknowledged there's still a long way to go.
"Obviously me being in the system for as long as I've been in here, there's new things that you find out each and every day," said Newton. "There's no rest for the weary, so for me it doesn't matter if I pick up on one thing, there's still something else I feel like I can be better at and I do need to be better at.
"The thing I try to focus on is try to play as fast as possible and just try to react faster than the defense and I think Coach Josh [McDaniels] has assisted me along in that process as well as Coach Jed [Fisch]. We just keep doing that each and every day"
As Newton plows through the playbook the overall message for what the Patriots offense needs to do remains unchanged.
"We just got to do a better job of being more efficient on earlier downs and knowing what we have to do as an offense to play complementary football with the defense special-teams and things like that," said Newton. "All these keys have not changed since Week 1, we just got to do a better job of honing in and doing what's expected of us."
Now, Newton and the Patriots are locked in on the New York Jets, their second-straight road divisional game. The records might not be impressive, but the lights of Monday Night Football and the Patriots razor-thin playoff hopes will be enough to make this one of the biggest games of the season.
"Obviously in our situation right now, we can very well be 5-2 but the reality is we're 2-5," said Newton. "We don't expect our confidence to be shot by that because we know we're a better football team.
"We understand that number one, this counts for two really because it's a division game," said Newton. "We just got to be ready to go and we will."
Belichick impressed by Onwenu
Yesterday we featured Mike Onwenu in the notebook and on Friday morning Bill Belichick gave his impressions of the rookie who has shown some unexpected versatility, playing both sides of the line and multiple positions.
"Whatever you ask him to do, he tries very hard to do it and is a real smart kid that can correct mistakes and pick things up the second time around," said Belichick. "It might be something he hasn't seen that he doesn't maybe react to as quickly to the first time, but after he's seen it and after he's had a chance to gain some experience – which he's gained a lot of experience both playing guard and tackle – his awareness and physicality, technique. Just he's a good football player and he's shown the versatility to play two different spots, guard and tackle – which, in this league, as a rookie, different sides of the line, it's really been impressive.'
Practice & Injury Report
The Patriots got good news at practice on Friday, as Lawrence Guy, Stephon Gilmore and Carl Davis were all back on the upper fields for work in shorts and shells. N'Keal Harry (concussion) and J.J. Taylor (illness) remained out, as 17 players made the team's injury report for the second day in a row.
The appearances by Guy and Davis were good news for the Patriots run defense. Guy is the best player in their front seven and Davis should give them some needed NFL-quality depth to work with. Hopefully both players stay on track for Monday night.
Isaiah Wynn was a late addition to the practice report, listed as Did Not Participate. Wynn was present for the portion open to media earlier in the day, so this is a spot to monitor with the Patriots already thin at the tackle spot with Jermaine Eluemunor and Justin Herron currently on Injured Reserve.
The Patriots will practice for a final time on Saturday.
Webex Quotes of Note
Bill Belichick on Jets running back Frank Gore:
"He's had a great, great career – incredibly durable, tough, consistent. He has a great playing style. I know he gives great leadership and toughness to the teams he's been on – I mean, that's really legendary. But, yeah, I have a tremendous amount of respect competing against him. He's had one of the great careers at his position in the National Football League. Just very, very impressive."
Adrian Phillips on the importance of stacking success in practice:
"Practice today and practice this week has definitely been a lot better and we had some new guys in there so communication has to be even more critical than it has been. Everybody's just taking the role that they're given and doing it in the best of their abilities. We're making sure that you win the game during practice because I hear a lot of time the war is always won before it actually starts. That's the mentality that you have to have during the week. You can't have a bad week of practice then go out there and expect to execute flawlessly. Do it right in practice, do it right in the game."
Deatrich Wise on playing on Monday Night Football:
"It's prime time TV. It's like playing the Sunday night 8 o'clock game or Thursday game. Everybody's watching, that's the only entertainment on TV on a Monday. It's almost like back in the day we used to watch Monday Night Raw. This is it the main attraction. It's going to be a great game, looking forward to playing it."