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."

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

Belichick on Long's sack: One of the best defensive plays of the year

It came against a rookie quarterback. It came against an offense that averages a league-worst 15.0 points per game. It came against an offense that has fewer yards than any other. 

Still there are signs that Bill Belichick is pretty pleased with where his defense is after beating the Rams 26-10 on Sunday. One came on Wednesday when Patriots.com published its "Belichick Breakdown" for a closer look at a handful of plays from the team's most recent win.

Belichick called his team's third-and-eight stop with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter "probably one of the best good, team defensive plays we've had all year."

The Patriots show a five-man front, but linebacker Kyle Van Noy feigns a rush only to drop into coverage.

"Van Noy in here does a good job on the rush," Belichick said, "and also on the coverage on the back. Just good team defense. Good pass coverage down the field. The quarterback really doesn't end up having a lot of time, but there's no one to throw it to right away."

Belichick noted that all four rushers -- Chris Long, Trey Flowers, Dont'a Hightower and Rob Ninkovich -- all are able to pressure Jared Goff on the play. Combined with strong coverage in the secondary, the Rams nver really had a chance.

Belichick said it looked like a "tidal wave" of defenders bearing down on the quarterback.

"Long wins here . . . on the inside spin," Belichick said, "and Trey Flowers and Hightower both win on the little twist game inside. Then that's Rob with good speed-to-power on [Rams tackle Rob] Havenstein on the outside. Four good rushers. Plus a fifth guy...Van Noy getting that two-for-one on the guard and the back.

"Good team defense. That's great to see. A lot of hard work an execution on the practice field to make that happen."

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

FOXBORO -- They sounded like a couple of old pals. 

First it was Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who spoke of Ravens coach John Harbaugh during a conference call like one of his favorite fellow lacrosse dads.

"John and I saw a game a couple of years ago, a [Johns] Hopkins vs. Maryland game," Belichick said, adding that Harbaugh's love for the sport is just starting to blossom. "Yeah, I think John is seeing the light."

Belichick added that the two might be closer if they weren't competing so often, both in-season on the field and for free agents in the offseason. 

"As you know, we get into a situation like we’re in now where they have a good team, we have a good team, we’re playing a big game on Monday night," Belichick said. "Both teams are going to do everything they can to compete as hard as they can on Monday night. That’s what it is and that’s what we all signed up for. We all know that’s a part of it.

"When we’re not going head-to-head, which isn’t very often because we compete against each other in the offseason, we compete against each other to build our team and so forth, it just puts things in a little bit of a different situation."

During his press conference with reporters on Wednesday, Harbaugh echoed Belichick's sentiments. Belichick was famously one of Harbaugh's biggest supporters earlier in his career, calling the Ravens on Harbaugh's behalf when the franchise was looking for a new head coach. And if only they weren't so frequently competing against each other, they might be even closer, Harbaugh indicated. 

"I feel like we have a good relationship," Harbaugh said. "Like you said, we're probably not socializing that much, but I don't know how many coaches really do. We're all so busy. I'll see him or any coach at the Combine or at the owner's meetings, and we have a chance to talk. It's always good. I have a ton of respect for him. I really like him as a person. I think he's a great coach -- greatest coach of this generation. He's earned that title.

"And I study him. I've always studied him. I've always studied coach Belichick from when I first met him when I was an assistant at the University of Cincinnati, and he came in and just was great to be around.  [We have a] similar background with the special teams and that sort of thing. All of that kind of goes out the window when you compete against one another. It's like anything else, you want to win. I'm sure he feels the same way."

The recent history between their respective franchises is rife with emotion: There was Baltimore's irate reaction to Belichick's unusual formations in the AFC Divisional Round two seasons ago; there was the Ravens' supposed involvement in sparking Deflategate; and there was Harbaugh's subsequent denial. But Belichick and Harbaugh made it sound on Wednesday as if all's good between them.