By Tom E. CurranSEATTLE - Close to three weeks ago, after the Patriots failed to close out the Baltimore Ravens, I took a deep look at the team's recent failures to lock things down at the end. Three games later, they've failed twice more in closeout situations. And it's getting to the point where the Patriots are either going to blow teams out or tighten up at the end. The defense is what it is. Flawed in the secondary, susceptible to stupidity. The offense? It's the league's best with the league's best quarterback. It should be able to play keepaway in the final minutes. But Sunday, with two chances to shut down Seattle and win a game they outplayed the Seahawks in, they spit the bit. First, they took over with 7:21 remaining and - after picking up two first downs and burning 3:14 - they punted. They got a quick three-and-out from Seattle and then went three-and out themselves and Seattle got the ball back with 2:38 left. The rest is ugly history. Last week, it was a Stevan Ridley fumble that ended the Patriots' first closeout drive. This week, it was a little of everybody. BRANCHThey didn't do nothing. Everything, all the mistakes made on the field were by us. They were self-inflicted mistakes. As the game went on, they really didn't do anything to stop us. The flags, the interceptions, the dropped balls, things of that nature. That's stuff that we control. The game's never over. We never really took 'em out and we had the opportunities. We had turnovers, defensive things. It was like we never finished them when we had the opportunity and it was there. That's how it goes. I'm one of the last guys that'll complain. There were a couple in the end zone that were flagrant. But I spoke to the guys and that's football. It's hard for them to see everything on the field. Regardless of what you see on paper, we gotta win the games, we gotta be able to finish the game and that starts with mistake-free football. MANKINSWe're 3-3. Not ideal but I know one thing about the team we won't quit and the coaches won't quit. We'll try to improve this week and get back on the right track. We had chances in the red zone right before half we don't score. We were down there again and turned it over. We had our chances and we didn't score enough points. We shoulda been in the 30s and we didn't get it done. Faltered on four-minute again at the end of the game. When it was time to make plays we didn't make 'em. It's mistakes. We could put more pressure right before halftime and let it get away. Got the ball in a great spot and didn't get any points out of it. Got the ball down there again and turned it over. When you get down there, you gotta score points. That's the difference in this league. There's 11 guys out there. We gotta do it as a unit. Everyone's gotta be on the same page and doing things the right way and sometimes not all 11 are doing it. WELKER"We talk about playing a good 60 minutes of football and we seem to come up a loittle bit short. These close games like this, espeially one where youhave the lead int he fourth, you have to put them away and we weren't able to do that today. It's really frustratinjg. We just gotta get back to work and work on these things and make sure we're pushing through and win the games in the end.
Merloni recaps this week of Red Sox spring training.
Lou Merloni, Trenni Kusnierek and John Farrell talk about life without David Ortiz.