'Sickening' loss in Miami drives Pats entering home opener
FOXBOROUGH >> Bill Belichick doesn't need any extra incentive heading into this week's home opener against division rival Miami.
He made it clear that nothing — not even having to share the Patriots' facilities with a Bruce Springsteen concert — was distracting him from preparing for the Dolphins.
While Belichick acknowledged he had "seen a few wild Springsteen concerts," his focus this week is only amplified by the performance of his team in last year's regular-season finale at Miami, which he called "sickening."
"I'm working on Miami. I don't do concerts, I don't do banners, I don't do parking, I don't do concessions," he said Wednesday.
Belichick acknowledged there was some lingering bitterness after January's 20-10 loss, which kept the Patriots from securing the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. New England won its divisional playoff game at home against Kansas City, but had to go on the road for the AFC championship game, a 20-18 loss to Denver.
It's the main reason why Belichick said it hasn't been difficult to turn the page after last week's gutty opening win at Arizona.
"All you've got to do is turn on our game against Miami last year. It's sickening. Yeah, it doesn't take long at all," he said. "It wasn't very good: bad coaching, bad playing, just bad period."
The shortcomings were all over the field.
Tom Brady completed a season-low 21 passes for 134 yards. It was also his only game all season he didn't have a touchdown pass. It wasn't until James White caught a short pass over the middle and rumbled for a 68-yard gain in the third quarter that the Patriots were able to set up their lone touchdown.
The defense had a tough time containing Ryan Tannehill, who threw for 350 yards and two touchdowns.
"I'd say the thing that's most etched in my mind, and I'm sure our team's, is the last time we went down there it was a pretty rough day for us," Belichick said.
"Other than James White breaking a tackle we barely had 100 yards of offense. Couldn't play defense, couldn't really do anything."
Improving on that result may not be easy.
The Patriots took the field against Arizona short-handed, with tight end Rob Gronkowski sidelined with a hamstring issue. Also out were left tackle Nate Solder (hamstring) and right guard Jonathan Cooper (foot). All three were listed as limited participants Wednesday as New England got back on the practice field.
The defense also began the week down a starter, with linebacker Dont'a Hightower unable to practice because of a knee injury. He started against the Cardinals, finishing with one tackle.
Safety Devin McCourty, voted a co-captain this season along with Hightower, Gronkowski and Matt Slater, said they received the game plan for Miami just hours after returning from Arizona.
Following a day off Tuesday, on-field preparations for the Dolphins didn't begin in earnest until Wednesday.
But it's nothing this team isn't used to, McCourty said.
"No one's better than turning the page and getting ready for the next game than Bill," McCourty said. "That's the good thing about this team. We take after him and understand once he turns the page, that's all he's talking about."
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