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January 3, 2013

Proud Patriots focus on themselves during bye

(Continued)

All three possible foes have changed since facing the Patriots. The Ravens, in fact, have had alterations on the coaching staff and lost four of their last five games.

“There’s a lot more information since the time we played them,” Belichick said. “That definitely needs to be analyzed.”

The Patriots were leading 30-20 before Flacco threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith with 4:01 left. Justin Tucker’s 27-yard kick won the game two plays after a 27-yard pass interference penalty against Devin McCourty gave Baltimore the ball at the New England 7-yard line.

The loss dropped the Patriots to 1-2, their first sub-.500 record since they lost the 2003 opener. But by the time the Colts visited on Nov. 18, the Patriots were 6-3 and on a roll.

New England quarterback Tom Brady outplayed Luck and the Patriots received a huge boost from the defense and special teams. Aqib Talib, in his first game since being traded from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and rookie Alfonzo Dennard returned interceptions for touchdowns. And Julian Edelman brought back a punt for another.

“As a defensive back, we have short-term memories,” Talib said, “so I don’t remember too much about the game. I’m kind of worried about getting ready this week.”

The Patriots’ win streak had reached six games when the Texans came to town with the NFL’s best record and second most points.

They left with a beating.

Brady threw four touchdown passes, all before six minutes were gone in the third quarter and the home team cruised to victory.

“We can’t predict the score but we know we can dominate games,” McCourty, who had a first-quarter interception, said after the game.

The Patriots did lose to the San Francisco 49ers the next week 41-34, then struggled to beat the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars 23-16. But they rebounded with their first shutout since Oct. 18, 2009, a 28-0 romp over the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season finale last Sunday.

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