While the Patriots spent the second half of the week awash in turmoil, the most immediate question was obvious: What affect would sending four players home have on today's game? Would it matter at all?
Even after the game, reaction was split in the Patriots locker room. Wes Welker talked about the Patriots being "pretty flat" until their second touchdown drive. Maybe it's not fair to connect that to the lingering effects from the week, but maybe it is.
"I don't think our focus was there in the first half," running back Kevin Faulk said.
Other players did not see Wednesday's incident as a factor today.
"I think everybody came into this game knowing that we had to get a W," Tully Banta-Cain said. "We can't let any excuse take us away from doing our job. I think the attitude now is, we start doing our work early in the week, and we don't have those mishaps during the week."
"No effect," cornerback Leigh Bodden said. "That's outside of football. We control what we can control on the field. We went out to practice, handled our business. If we wanted to come away with the victory, that's what we had to do."
The four players who caused the incident had varying degrees of success. Adalius Thomas obviously didn't play, so skip him. We'll start with Randy Moss. Faulk wouldn't be happy with that; here's what he said, mostly unprompted, after the game.
"I think that what happened this week, as far as getting sent home Ė I think it pissed us of as players, too Ė how the media expressed how Randy Moss got sent home with three other players. Thatís what really hurts him the most. Why not name the other three players? Why just his name? He was really hurt about the situation, about getting sent home. But at the same time, thatís what Bill's wishes were. And thatís what he did."
Faulk defended Moss in full, saying he has "never" seen Moss not show complete effort. But Moss's play was awful today -- he fumbled the only pass he caught, dropped two others, and was targeted on an interception. For good measure, he threw in a false start penalty. Given what Faulk said about Moss being "hurt" by the situation and Moss's performance, it seems like the week's events affected him.
Gary Guyton was his typically self, and Junior Seau, like last week, subbed for him on a handful of plays. He made a key pass break-up in the fourth quarter, nearly snaring an interception.
Derrick Burgess did not receive much playing time, but he did register a key sack in the fourth quarter. It was probably the best play of his season, actually. He might want to crank the alarm back a few minutes this Wednesday.