FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots pulled within one game of the NFL record for consecutive victories with a 23-12 win over the Cardinals Sunday, but coach Bill Belichick was not satisfied with the team's performance.
"I thought the game was one for us where we missed a lot of opportunities," Belichick said yesterday. "We had a lot of plays where, if we had been able to execute a little bit better, we would have been a lot better off in all three phases of the game, but particularly on offense and defense. Offensively, we left a lot of plays out there, getting touchdowns called back and not taking advantage of our scoring opportunities. Defensively, we were letting the quarterback run around. We had 12 accepted penalties and that was a problem for us.
"When you run 60, 70 plays in a game, I'd say 70 plays, and 68 of them there are no problems and on two of them there are, obviously, those two plays are concentration plays. There's room for improvement. It needs to be corrected."
The Patriots have nearly two weeks to prepare for their next game, at Buffalo Oct. 3. They have 17 successive wins since last Sept. 28.
"We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do," Belichick said. "We have a little bit of extra time this week, and we will try to put that to good use. We know what it is like going into Buffalo, and we know what happened there last year [a 31-0 loss]. Hopefully, we can play a little more competitively this time around."
Belichick confirmed that Deion Branch requested to return to Sunday's game after injuring a leg in the first half. "He sounded pretty good at halftime and after the game," Belichick said. "Given where we were and the situation, I just didn't think that was the best thing to do. The doctors felt like it would be better to be a little cautious with it. The adrenaline gets going, and they feel good and want to go back in there. I think it is a little too early to evaluate the injury." . . . Ted Johnson returned to the starting lineup but is not a certain starter for the next game. "Ted missed a little bit of time in the preseason and came back, and had he played more in preseason, he might have been a little bit further along," Belichick said. "We felt like, for this game plan, that the situation would be best if we gave him a few more snaps. That may or may not be the case [against Buffalo]." . . . Troy Brown's 22-yard kickoff return was a highlight. "That was easily our best return of the season, which isn't saying much," Belichick said. "It was definitely better. The ball wasn't on the ground. We caught it. We returned the ball back for positive yardage, not always a lot of yardage, but at least we were heading in the right direction and the ball was in our hands at the end of the play." . . . Rabih Abdullah, in his first game for the Patriots, was among the top players on special teams. "I thought he did a really good job covering kickoffs," Belichick said. "I thought he did a nice job and showed some toughness. He showed good speed getting down there. I thought he had a nice run at the end of the game to seal it when we ran out the clock." . . . The Light Foundation, a charitable organization established by Matt Light, is holding a Casino Night Oct. 4 (in conjunction with the Globe Magazine) at Barmakian Jewelers on Route 30 in Framingham. Tickets are $75 ($200 VIP) and can be obtained by calling 617-423-6000 or at www.nextticketing.com. Proceeds benefit the foundation and the Jordan Boys and Girls Club of Chelsea.