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Sports

August 24, 2013

Belichick: Ball security is 'highest priority'

(Continued)

After the kickoff, the Patriots managed just two plays before Shane Vereen fumbled on his own 6 yard-line. Four plays later, it was 13-0.

“We didn’t do anything in the first half other than turn the ball over,” Brady said. “You aren’t going to score in this league unless you can string a bunch of plays together. We could never get more than a couple plays in a row before we shot ourselves in the foot.”

The turnovers didn’t just cost the Patriots a meaningless game; it may have kept them from working on what they needed to see in the penultimate exhibition game: According to ESPN.com, Vereen and Bolden never got back on the field.

“Was it sending them a message?” Belichick said, repeating the question. “I think that message has been delivered on a daily basis since we started practicing back in May. I don’t think there are any new revelations about that message. Ball security is very important to anybody who handles the ball, in any situation. There can be no mistake about the importance of it.”

The Patriots, who won their first two exhibition games, will play the New York Giants at home next Thursday in their final tuneup, then open the season against the Buffalo Bills on Sept. 8.

“We had a couple of good weeks against Tampa and Philly. We had some good practices and then we have a week like this, when you figure out we aren’t anywhere near where we need to be,” Brady said. “If we are going to kick off in two weeks, we are going to have to play a lot better than this. That’s a good lesson for all of us. I don’t care who you are. It’s the NFL. It’s a very humbling game.

“And if you don’t bring it every single night, every week, you are going to get your butt kicked.”

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