Both were brief, to say the least, in their comments immediately following the game on Sunday.
“That was really one that we let kind of get away,” Brady said during his weekly interview on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan Show. “We had a lot of great opportunities to win the game and win a division title and just came up short. It’s just frustrating all the way around.
“We got off to a better start than we got off to the previous, whatever, three or four weeks, and went in at halftime with the lead. It felt like we moved the ball pretty good all day, we just couldn’t get enough points on the board. We’ve got to try to figure out a way to get the ball in the end zone.”
Belichick, in a teleconference on Monday, said that “one or two [plays] could have been the difference,” but the team just didn’t do enough to get the victory.
The Patriots had trouble in the red zone, where they converted just one touchdown in four attempts as the Miami defense clamped down to prevent the Patriots from blowing the game open.
“They were trying to disguise their coverages,” Belichick said. “They pressured us down there [in the red zone] … Nothing we haven’t seen before, but they did a good job of it. We need to collectively, from our plays to our executions, just get a little sharper down there.”
The Patriots played with a small receiving corps, which contributed to their troubles in the red zone. New England was without wideouts Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, as well as tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is lost for the season.
“Is it great to have everyone healthy? Yeah, of course it is,” Brady said. “But that didn’t matter yesterday. We had plenty of chances without those guys on the field. We just have to come up with ways to score more points, because it’s not going to cut it, 20 points.
“We do things well enough at times to move the ball down the field, get ourselves in good position. But then we don’t do enough to make plays when we really need to make them.”
“[It was a] good throw; we tackled [Hartline] as soon as he caught the ball,” Belichick said. “I don’t think that’s the kind of situation where you want to get a pass interference or be too overly aggressive playing the ball and miss it and have the guy turn up and run for a first down. fourth-and-5, defensively, that’s a situation you don’t mind being in.
“I don’t second guess what happened on that play. It was a good throw and we weren’t on the receiver.”
When left tackle Nate Solder went down in the fourth quarter with an apparent head injury, Logan Mankins shifted from guard to tackle and rookie Josh Kline came in to play guard. This was the first time Mankins played tackle since 2011.
“We’ve had to practice some alternative combinations this week because of the availability of all three tackles: Marcus [Cannon], Will [Svitek], and Nate, during the practice week,” Belichick said. “When [Solder’s injury] happens, we felt like that was the best move forward for us at that point.”
Belichick would not confirm whether Solder suffered his second concussion of the season, or whether or not Solder even flew home with the team Sunday night.
Both Brady and Belichick are moving on to focus on the upcoming task at hand, preparing for their Week 16 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots can clinch the AFC East title with a win or a loss by the Dolphins.
“We haven’t even qualified for anything,” said Brady. “We’ve got 10 wins, and 10 wins is fine, it’s OK. But it hasn’t gotten us anything. What we need to do is start playing better football. I think that’s the only thing I really care about, is us playing better football and seeing if we can do better on a more consistent basis.”
"The challenge this week is Baltimore," Belichick said. "That’s all there is is Baltimore. Certainly nothing else to talk about."