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A kick in the pants

Loss to Rams left Patriots smarting

Coach Bill Belichick found few positives in Thursday night’s loss to St. Louis. Coach Bill Belichick found few positives in Thursday night’s loss to St. Louis. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)
By Monique Walker
Globe Staff / August 28, 2010

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The Patriots have one exhibition game left to feel better about starting another season. And players have very little time to make enough of an impression to secure a roster spot.

The third preseason game Thursday night didn’t generate positive thoughts, as the defense gave up more than 400 yards of offense and lost to the St. Louis Rams, 36-35, on a last-second field goal. After coach Bill Belichick watched film yesterday, he couldn’t shake the frustration.

“Disappointed in the whole game,’’ Belichick said. “Regardless of how the last kick turned out, whether it was good or not good, that’s really not the point. I don’t think we did things as well as we are capable of doing them, so that part is disappointing.

“It doesn’t make you feel very good as a coach. And when your team doesn’t perform well, that’s a reflection on the coaching and how the coaches feel.’’

This will be a busy week for the Patriots. They have to cut the roster from 80 to 75 on Tuesday. They will play their final exhibition game against the New York Giants in New Jersey on Thursday. And next Saturday, the team will make its final round of cuts to get to the 53-man roster.

“I think the way your team develops its fundamentals and its foundation in the early part of training camp and the preseason definitely is important in the big picture,’’ Belichick said. “If it wasn’t, then we wouldn’t do it.

“That being said, there are certainly a lot of unknowns going into the season. It’s preseason, not the regular season, but you want to see things done well and last night wasn’t a great example of that.’’

St. Louis rookie quarterback Sam Bradford threaded 189 yards of passes through the defense, completing 15 of 22 attempts for two touchdowns.

Whether it was a lack of pressure or miscues in the secondary that left receivers open, Belichick didn’t think one was more to blame than the other.

“I think the two are interrelated,’’ he said. “There were times when we had good pressure on the quarterback and hit him and didn’t have tight enough coverage, and the ball came out because the receiver was open.

“There were other times when . . . we didn’t have quite enough pressure to force the ball out quickly when we had him covered.

“It was a combination of things. I would say it was a little bit of both.’’

The Patriots didn’t help themselves with penalties. They were assessed 72 yards on seven calls, their most in this exhibition season. The defense was penalized for 57 of those yards. Three penalties were for roughing the passer on Tully Banta-Cain, Brandon Spikes, and Marques Murrell.

“They’re close calls, but if they say they’re fouls, they’re fouls, and we’ve got to correct that and eliminate those plays,’’ Belichick said. “The three roughing-the-passer calls and illegal contact and offsides, those plays led to points, so they were very costly.

“We’ve got to find a way to avoid them, regardless of whether we think they are good calls or not. That doesn’t really matter. We’ve got to find a way to play without committing those fouls.’’

Belichick said that when the coaching staff and players went over film yesterday, he could see some positives in negative moments. Overall, he said, there are “certainly a lot of things that we need to correct.’’

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