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Sports

October 23, 2012

Patriots have problems aplenty despite 4-3 record

(Continued)

The offense has had its own problems, despite leading the NFL in total yardage. It’s scored just two touchdowns in each of the last two games. It’s settled for too many field goals that left three games to be decided in the final seconds, including a 24-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the Patriots previous game after they led 23-10 in the fourth quarter.

Tight ends Rob Gronkowski (offseason back surgery) and Aaron Hernandez (sprained ankle) have been playing at less than full strength, and Brady completed just one pass for six yards on Sunday to Brandon Lloyd, signed in the offseason as a deep threat.

“It really wasn’t our best day in terms of execution,” Brady said after finally getting the offense going on its last two possessions against the Jets. Each covered 54 yards and led to the tying and winning field goals by Stephen Gostkowski.

“We have to nail those things down,” Brady said. “A lot of those inconsistencies, you don’t score points.”

Inconsistency also was a problem on special teams, specifically the play of kickoff returner McCourty. He took one back for a 104-yard touchdown after Greene scored, and the Patriots tied the game 7-7. Then he lost a fumble bringing back a kickoff after Nick Folk had tied it at 23 with 2:06 left in the fourth quarter. But the Jets managed just another 43-yarder by Folk with 1:37 remaining.

“My teammates saved my life,” McCourty said. “I just have to do a better job on holding the ball.”

Despite the concerns on offense, defense and special teams, the Patriots (4-3) lead the AFC East and are one of just three teams in the conference with a winning record. On Sunday, they’ll reach the midpoint of the season when they face the St. Louis Rams (3-4) in London.

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