NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

October 23, 2012

Patriots have problems aplenty despite 4-3 record

FOXBOROUGH — The game was just six minutes old and the New England Patriots already were getting booed by their own crowd.

As Shonn Greene crossed the goal line for a 1-yard touchdown run on the New York Jets’ first series on Sunday, the home fans jeered. They were upset about a 76-yard drive in which the Patriots’ shaky secondary allowed two long completions, for 24 and 26 yards, and was flagged for holding.

By the time the game was over — and the Patriots had avoided a second straight loss in which they coughed up a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead — those same fans were cheering. But that noise after a 29-26 overtime win that came down to the last play couldn’t drown out the critics, including coach Bill Belichick.

“There are a lot of things we need to work on,” he said.

Start with the pass defense.

It allowed Mark Sanchez to complete five passes of from 21 to 26 yards. One week earlier, he threw for a total of just 82 yards. So far this season, the Patriots have allowed 35 completions of at least 20 yards, an average of five per game. Tom Brady has just 20 covering that distance.

“No comment,” starting cornerback Kyle Arrington said of those big gainers. “We’ll go back, see what we can improve. It’s all about getting better from here.”

The Patriots were short-handed with both starting safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory sidelined on Sunday. Devin McCourty, who has struggled at cornerback, moved to safety and played better.

“There’s no defense that’s designed to give up 50-yard pass completions or anything like that,” Belichick said Monday. “That’s really the worst thing that can happen defensively, is for the offense to get all their yardage or score on one play and not make them drive the ball and execute a number of plays.”

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