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Not in a jolly mood

Belichick disappointed in team losing big lead

MIAMI -- It's Christmas week, but don't expect Bill Belichick to be in a generous mood after last night.

The Patriots coach wasn't pleased with what he saw in the 29-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Pro Player Stadium, though he didn't feel his team lacked intensity.

"We didn't make plays we needed to make at the end of the game," he said. "It wasn't lack of intensity, it was lack of execution. It wasn't any one play. It was a combination of things for the most part that went in Miami's favor and especially at the end of the game.

The Patriots squandered a 28-17 lead with 3:59 left in losing for just the second time in 29 games.

"There's not much to say," Belichick said. "We had an 11-point lead with four minutes to go and we lost the game. I'm disappointed."

Belichick didn't seem to be in the mood to answer questions about perhaps losing homefield advantage in the playoffs with the loss. With a one-game lead plus the win in the head-to-head matchup against the Patriots, Pittsburgh's position atop the AFC seems secure.

"All I know is we have the Jets on the road this week and we have to go back and get prepared for them," Belichick said.

Most of the players thought the Patriots had a decent week of practice. Sometimes, as Christian Fauria pointed out later, "we'll have a bad week and then play great. This week we had a good week of practice. We'll be rehashing this one a bit on Wednesday, but we have to get ready for New York."

Tom Brady, who had one of his worst days said, "The Jets are as good as there is in the AFC and we're going to have a battle next week. We're going to try to regroup, fix the problems, and go out there."

Safety first

With Tyrone Poole going on injured reserve, the Patriots will stay with their makeshift secondary, which has had Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, Earthwind Moreland, and, at times, Eugene Wilson at cornerback.

Belichick fears teams will game-plan against the unit now. On the Dolphins' winning TD last night, A.J. Feeley went after Troy Brown, who has been getting time at nickle back, completing the pass to Derrius Thompson.

"I'm sure that the more the teams see anybody play, the more they'll game-plan for that particular player and try to attack that player's weaknesses and run certain routes or run certain plays that they think exploit either the scheme or individual players," Belichick said.

While there's been instability among the corners, Belichick and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel have tried to keep safeties Wilson and Rodney Harrison in a regular routine. That's been interrupted, though, when Wilson moves to corner.

"The further [outside] you get, there are fewer adjustments," Belichick said. "Not to say that there aren't still a lot of adjustments by receivers and corners, but there just aren't as many of them as there are by safeties and linebackers and quarterbacks and running backs and things like that.

"I think by keeping our most experienced players inside, we've tried to minimize the number of team adjustments that we've made. Fortunately, all of those corners have been really working from the beginning with us."

Aches and pains

Injuries update: Gay had the wind knocked out of him early in the second half and did not return. Je'Rod Cherry was seen limping after the game and could wind up on the injury report . . . David Givens saw limited action because of an ankle problem . . . Cornerback Omare Lowe and linebacker Eric Alexander were promoted to the 53-man roster off the practice squad, replacing Poole and offensive tackle Marques Sullivan, who was released. Also inactive for the Patriots were Ty Law, Dexter Reid, Matt Chatham, and Bethel Johnson because of injury, and Marquise Hill and Ethan Kelley (coach's decisions). Jim Miller was once again the third quarterback . . . The Patriots made out well in a Sports Illustrated For Kids survey of NFL players released yesterday. Belichick and Tony Dungy each received 11 percent of the vote for coaches players would most like to play for other than their own; 9 percent said Herman Edwards of the Jets. According to 53 percent of the players, Ray Lewis of the Ravens is the league's hardest hitter, followed by John Lynch of the Broncos and Harrison of the Patriots with 7 percent each. Gillette Stadium wasn't among the "toughest stadiums" to play in. Arrowhead in Kansas City received 28 percent of the vote, followed by Oakland's Network Associates Coliseum (21), Minnesota's Metrodome (10), and Tennessee's Coliseum (10). Fifty-eight percent of players felt the Patriots will win Super Bowl XXXIX, followed by the Eagles (19) and the Vikings (12) . . . Larry Izzo is currently leading fan voting in the special teams category for the Pro Bowl. 

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