The Patriots entered Monday night still regarded as a team worthy of Super Bowl speculation. Today, it seems like their contender status owed more to the uniforms they wore than the players wearing them. The Saints so thoroughly exposed the Patriots, especially their defense, that their status in the league had to be amended.
For Tom Brady, none of that is pertinent. He declined to take any long views and emphasized Sunday’s game against the Dolphins while also reminding the media during his press conference that, hey, the Patriots are in first place in the AFC East.
His most direct message came when a reporter asked if he believed his teammates still had confidence in achieving the “ultimate goal.”
“The ultimate goal is something you set out early in the season,” Brady said. “It’s the reason why we’re all here, trying to commit ourselves to winning Super Bowls and so forth. But that’s not the goal for this week. This week is to beat Miami and to play a better game than we played last week.
“We’re 7-4, you know? We’re ahead two games in the division. The season is not lost by any stretch. When you don’t play good football, you lose games. I don’t think that’s a new revelation for any of us. When we don’t play well, we lose. That’s happened four times this year. We’ve also won seven games. We got five games left. The season isn’t deciding yet at all. We’re still trying to make improvements, and there’s a lot of things that are going to happen over the course of the next five weeks. We’re in a good position in terms of our division. A win this week would do a lot for us. So that makes it a critical game for us.”
On the sideline Monday night, Patriots players were clearly frustrated, more visibly than is typical. Again, Brady spun a question about that forward.
“We’ve got to use whatever emotions we had at the end of the game to understand those are the emotions you have when you don’t play well,” Brady said. “Hopefully, we don’t feel that way again. We’ve got to move forward to Miami, who’s a tough opponent. I know everyone wants to talk about last week’s game, but that was last week’s game. I’m not so concerned with last week’s game at this point. I’ve moved on to Miami. The mourning period is over. That game has come and gone. ‘Let’s go play Miami’ – I think that’s the attitude in the locker room.”