Schadenfreude helps ease the pain of Pats loss

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Schadenfreude helps ease the pain of Pats loss

Theres a certain type of medical treatment that fans in New England thrive on after a difficult Patriots loss. Unfortunately, the antidotes not readily available after every defeat. In fact, its been almost a year since it was even on the market.

But last night in Atlanta, it was re-released to the public to rave reviews. And while the packaging might look different, the name remains the same. Its simply called: Watching Peyton Manning throw interceptions.

Come on, admit it, seeing Peyton come back to Earth last night eased at least a little bit of your Patriots pain. As did watching the Jets get waxed by the Steelers on Sunday (although would have been nice if it wasnt the Steelers) and the Ravens choke down the stretch against the Eagles. Sure, none of that will help heal Aaron Hernandezs ankle, uncover the truth behind the Welker nonsense, teleport Brian Waters from his Texas ranch or give Gostkowski another chance from 42, but even in our darkest moments, NFL Schadenfreude serves as an undeniable source of happiness.

And the truth is, through two weeks, very few of the Pats AFC rivals have escaped early season hardship. As of today, there are only two undefeated teams remaining in the conference Houston and San Diego. Both have been dominant so far, with the Texans outscoring opponents by a combined 57-17 and the Chargers up 60-24 in their two contests. Then again, neither team has been challenged. Youd assume that more than a few teams would start 2-0 against the likes of Jacksonville, Miami, Tennessee and Oakland.

Then again, youd have assumed the same about a team that drew Tennessee and Arizona. Regardless of whom theyve played, Houston and San Diego have done the job and deservedly sit atop the early standings. Meanwhile, reality intervened with the Pats, leaving them at 1-1, in a horde among nine other AFC teams (including their three division foes and other presumed contenders like Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Denver). But whatever, its early. We know how much things will change over the next 15 weeks. We know that a 2-0 start guarantees nothing except no worse than a 2-14 finish. Take last year for example. After two weeks, the Bills, Jets and Redskins all stood at 2-0. They finished out the season a combined 11-31.

Starting today, we'll put Week 2 behind us the heartbreak against Arizona, the joy of watching the Jets, Raven and Broncos fall flat on their face and turn our attention to Sunday night in Baltimore, a match-up that will either bring New England a glorious natural high or send us into a depression that will make this week look like a breezy day at the beach. We can only hope for the best. But if the best isn't in the cards, here's hoping that vitamin Schadenfreude is still available in bulk.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Patriots-Rams notes: Brady and the defense have record-setting days

Patriots-Rams notes: Brady and the defense have record-setting days

FOXBORO -- Notes from the Patriots' 26-10 win over the Rams Sunday, courtesy of the Pats' P.R. department:

TEAM NOTES

A DEFENSIVE FIRST : The Patriots allowed just 25 total first-half yards to the Rams, the lowest total in a half in team history. The previous low was 28 yards by the Jets in the first half on Dec. 26, 2005 in a 31-25 New England win.

A DEFENSIVE SECOND: The Patriots yielded just 36 yards rushing to the Rams, the second time this season New England has held its opponent to fewer than 40 rushing yards. Cleveland rushed for only 27 yards in Week 5.

BY THE NUMBERS DEFENSIVELY: The Patriots have now held the opposition to less than 20 points in 8 of their 12 games this year, and are allowing just 17.3 ppg.

PATS HIT 10-VICTORY MARK FOR 14TH CONSECUTIVE SEASON: The Patriots are now 10-2 and have won 10 or more games for 14 consecutive season, the second-longest streak in NFL history. The 1983-98 49ers had a 16-year streak

RECORD-SETTING PERFORMANCE: Tom Brady did not throw an interception Sunday and Patriots QBs have been picked off just once in the first 12 games of the season, an NFL record. The previous record for fewest interceptions thrown in the first 12 games was three, held jointly by the 2016 Vikings, 2015 Chiefs, 1993 Cowboys and 190 Chiefs. The NFL record for fewest interceptions in a season is five.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES

THE GOAT: As noted elsewhere, Brady became the winningest QB in NFL history with his 201st career victory.

HOME BODY: Since 2007, Brady is 62-6 overall at home in the regular season. That is more wins than five teams (home and away) have combined during that span. (60 by the Bucs, 57 by the Raiders, 52 by the Jaguars, 47 by the Browns and 46 by the Rams).

GETTING CLOSER: LeGarrette Blount scored on a 43-yard run in the first quarter and is now one rushing TD away from the tying the franchise record for rushing touchdowns in a season. He has 13, one behind Curtis Martin (who scored 14 in both 1995 and 1996).

SOME FIRSTS:
-- CB Logan Ryan sacked Rams QB Jared Goff for a loss of 12½ yards in the second quarter for his first sack since 2013.
-- LB Kyle Van Noy recorded his first NFL interception when he picked off a QB Jared Goff pass in the third quarter.
-- WR Julian Edelman finished with 8 receptions for 101 yards, his first 100-yard game of the 2016 season. (He now has eight 100-yard games in the regular season and two in the postseason.)

Gostkowski credits 'faith in the process' after bounce-back game vs. Rams

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Gostkowski credits 'faith in the process' after bounce-back game vs. Rams

FOXBORO -- With four games remaining on the schedule, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has reached career-highs that he wishes he hasn't: Four missed field goals, three missed extra points. In Weeks 11 and 12, he missed one of each. 

But after making all six of his kicks in Sunday's 26-10 win over the Rams, Gostkowski called his latest performance "a start," as in a step in the right direction. 

"Every week is a different challenge," he said. "You just gotta battle. Keep your head down, stay humble, show up and control your attitude and your effort, make sure both of those are good, and have faith in the process that what you've been doing is going to continue to work."

Gostkowski drilled both of his extra-point attempts in the first half, and when the Patriots offense stalled later in the game -- it finished 4-for-16 on third down -- he bailed it out with his right foot. 

He made a 48-yarder from the right hash, a 45-yarder from the left hash and a 45-yarder from the right hash on consecutive series that stretched from the third quarter and into the fourth. It was a series that all but put to rest questions about whether or not the placement of the football and his angle into kicks was giving him trouble of late.

Against the 49ers, after missing a point-after attempt, he moved all of his extra-point attempts from the middle of the field to the inside of the left hash. Against the Jets his lone miss came from the right hash.

Gostkowski acknowledged that he's been tinkering in recent weeks, but he explained that it's something he's done since joining the Patriots.

"You fine tune every week," he said. "When you play in New England, you could have cold weather, hot weather, windy weather, snow. It's a daily change out there. It's not a climate controled environment. You're fine-tuning every day . . . You're going to go through that during a long season. It's no different than any other season I've had." 

When asked if it was safe to assume that his confidence had waivered at points this season, the 11-year veteran indicated that it wasn't so much a confidence issue as it was a perfectionist's approach that led to frustration when the misses mounted.

"In athletics, I've gone through ups and downs my whole life," he said. "I've always had my confidence when it comes to athletics. Sometimes stubborn to a fault. As long as I'm out there, running out there and getting a chance to play, I expect to do well. No one's harder on themselves than me when I do bad, and I don't plan on changing anytime soon."

With Rob Gronkowski out for the season, the margin for error for everyone on the Patriots has shrunk. That doesn't exclude Gronkowski's teammates in the kicking game, and Gostkowski in particular, who will be depended upon to convert drives stopped short into points. Sunday's outing was a reminder of what Gostkowski can do, and an indication that as his team comes down the stretch of the regular season, he's getting right.  

"Every year's different challenges, different opportunities," he said. "You're only as good as your opportunities in this game. You're lucky to get some good opportunities. You don't get a lot of second chances. That's just part of the job. You know that going in. It's a mental and physical grind week in and week out to do well. I'm not going to change the way that I am competitively win, lose or draw."