FOXBORO -- Jerod Mayo described Sunday as a "must-have win" for the Patriots, when they host the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium in the last game of the regular season.
He described it as that because if the Patriots don't win, it won't matter what happens to Houston or Denver. They won't even have a chance at a first-round playoff bye if they lose to the Dolphins.
But other than that, even Mayo admitted to having more to play for on Sunday than just a first-round bye. The Patriots will also be focused on getting off to a better start, something they've struggled with the last two weeks against San Francisco and Jacksonville.
"We try to go out each and every week and play well," said Mayo after Friday's practice. "We try to put 60 minutes together. And these last couple weeks we started off slow, and we have to change that around, and hopefully that happens this week.
"We just haven't come out with the energy that we need to start games."
Mayo believes this one last regular-season game will be a perfect opportunity to get that sour taste that is a slow start, out of their mouths.
"We always go into a game, especially a divisional game -- the Miami Dolphins, they know us, we know them," said Mayo. "But we always talk about putting 60 minutes together, putting four quarters together, and this is a good opportunity for us."