The New England Patriots could be entering the postseason with better momentum. The team is coming off two straight losses after falling to the Miami Dolphins in the regular-season finale and they failed to lock up the AFC and get home-field advantage. They are not the hottest team in the league right now which is not the position they want to be in as injuries continue to play a part in the Patriots' season.
Tom Brady is hurting. The quarterback operated with a pretty noticeable limp after a big hit from defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh as the Patriots' offense was held to just 196 yards. The quarterback did receive medical attention during the game following the injury. He did not miss time until being replaced by Jimmy Garoppolo in the final drive. While optimism is high that Brady will be fine come the playoffs, he admits he is pretty sore and might be limited for a few days.
"I'm pretty sore," Brady acknowledged after the game via ESPN.com, "but it will be all right."
The Patriots were able to get Danny Amendola back from a knee injury, but Julian Edelman remains out healing from the broken foot. The Patriots were hoping that Edelman would be back for the regular-season finale, but he simply was not healthy enough. His absence on the field has been felt by Brady since he got hurt, but the team is confident the receiver is on track to return for the divisional playoff game. Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported that Edelman could have played against the Dolphins, but out of concern the Patriots kept him off the field one more week.
The Patriots do have concerns after an uninspiring loss to the Dolphins. The run game struggled as Steven Jackson put up just over 30 yards to lead the rushing unit. Head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels noted they are trying to get Jackson up to speed after he sat out almost the entire season. The running back is expected to replace LeGarrette Blount, but is still showing rust on the field.
"I have a comfort level with him. I think our offensive staff, we kind of know him better than anybody that comes off the street that we've never really been exposed to," McDaniels said, via ESPN.com. "Secondly, he's certainly had exposure to the terminology and the verbiage that we use here so I think that that helps him to close the gap in terms of what he knows and what he doesn't know."
If the Patriots are expected to be panicked, they are not. Belichick told the media that it was not the game the team wanted to have, but they have plenty of time to pull things together and bounce back before the playoffs. With a week off, the team has time to get healthy and game plan before the divisional game.
""We obviously didn't do enough things well enough today to win," Belichick said, via ESPN.com. "That was across the board."