Patriots defense lets down in fourth quarter

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Patriots defense lets down in fourth quarter

FOXBORO -- Jerod Mayo recorded his first NFL interception in the fourth quarter of the Patriots' 31-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

It was one of the only positives coming from a fourth quarter that saw New England outscored 21-0.

"I was just reading the quarterback and just broke on the ball," said Mayo about his diving interception over the middle. "I don't remember, to be honest with you. I'll have to go back and watch the film."

When Mayo -- and the rest of the Patriots' defense -- goes back and watches that film, chances are, they're going to look at a whole lot more than just Mayo's interception.

They're also going to take a look at Indianapolis' 88, 93, and 90-yard scoring drives from that fourth quarter, which turned a 31-3 Patriots lead into a 31-24 final.

"We played good for 45 minutes, and then didn't do anything offensively in the fourth quarter," said Tom Brady after the game. "So we'll hear about that tomorrow."

Brady wasn't about to throw his defense under the bus. But as bad as the offense looked putting up a goose egg in the final 15 minutes on Sunday, the defense looked worse.

"We started off fast, we just couldn't finish the game," said Mayo. "Those guys fought back and executed at the end of the game, and we couldn't put two halves together. Hopefully we do it next week.

"It's kind of disappointing, to be honest with you," added Mayo. "Even though it's a win, and it's hard to win games in the National Football League, you want to finish so much stronger than that."

So what was the reason for the poor finish?

"Poor execution, lack of execution, lack of focus," said Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington. "Got to really look at the film. It's hard to really tell right now. We'll go back, look it over, and take a hard look in the mirror and see how we can get better."

"I thought we did some good things out there today," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "We've obviously got to do a better job of finishing the game. That was disappointing, but we'll work on that. We'll get back to work here and get ready for Washington next week.

"I think we did some good things today," added Belichick. "There are other things we didn't do as well. That's the way it is every week."

Defensive lineman Andre Carter was a little more optimistic than others about the way New England finished defensively. The veteran sounded like a guy who believed some -- if not most -- of the let down at the end was more about human nature creeping into a 31-3 lead against a winless team, rather than a lack of skill.

"We just know that, in the end, as a team, we have the talent, and we have the mentality," said Carter. "We just have to finish strong. It's something that we have to communicate as a group and as a team, and move on from there.

"I think in general, it's a mindset," added Carter. "It's just knowing what you have to do, and going out there trying to execute. Unfortunately, towards the end, final stretch of the game, Indy was just able to make big plays. And that is something we have to eliminate."

Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

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Quick Slants Podcast: Antonio Brown’s betrayal; Matt Light; eyeing up Pittsburgh

Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discuss the aftermath of Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live video. Curran interview Matt Light ahead of the AFC Championship. They dissect the press conferences of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and look at how to beat the Steelers.

SUBSCRIBE iTunes | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | AudioBoom

2:29 Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live aftermath

13:14 Stopping Le’Veon Bell

27:16 heywassyonumba? with Patrick Chung and Kyle Van Noy

32:30 Injury report updates for AFC Championship

36:51 Brady and Belichick’s press conferences

44:50 Matt Light interview

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knows that how you play, not where, is what matters most. 

That's why when he was asked on Wednesday about the advantage the Patriots will have by playing at Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game, he wasn't willing to go all-in on how a comfortable environment will positively impact his team.

"I don’t know," he said. "Go ask Dallas and Kansas City."

The Patriots apparently thought enough of home-field advantage that they played their starters throughout their regular-season finale win in Miami, exposing their best players to potential injury in order to maintain their positive momentum while simultaneously ensuring a better road to the Super Bowl. 

The Patriots fans in attendance on Sunday will help when the Patriots take on the Steelers, Belichick acknowledged. But there's much more to it than that. 

"Yeah, of course," he said, "but the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games – the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night."

And if you needed any further proof, just ask the Cowboys and Chiefs how helpful their home crowds were in the Divisional Round.