FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots are 0-2 for the first time since the 2001 season, snapping the NFL’s longest streak and sparking emotions from players following Sunday night’s 24-17 home loss to the Miami Dolphins.
“I know it looks bad when you start [0-2], but this is not a bad team, so don’t get to asking those type of questions,” outside linebacker Matthew Judon said. “I don’t think we’re about to hang our heads in that locker room.”
Since 1990, only 31 of 270 teams that began a season 0-2 qualified for the postseason, according to ESPN Stats & Information research — although the implementation of the 17-game regular season in 2021 has created more margin for error, with the Cincinnati Bengals rebounding from an 0-2 start last season to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
In opening losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and Dolphins this year, the Patriots have started slow, totaling three turnovers in the first quarter, before roaring back and having a final rally fall short.
This year marked the first time a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team trailed by 10 or more points in each of the first two games of a season.
Asked what he attributes the team’s slow starts to, Belichick, now in his 24th season as Patriots coach, said simply: “Can’t turn the ball over.”
Meanwhile, Judon, one of the team’s veteran leaders, delivered his remarks late Sunday night before reporters asked him questions.
“When we come back [this week], it’s not going to be ‘How are you all going to pull it together?’ We already know how. We have to play how we played in the second half — from the first play,” he said.
“When we take the field, we have to have some type of energy, some type of juice. We can’t wait until we’re down 17, or 13, to make a comeback. It’s too hard in this league. People are too good, schemes are too good.”
Tight end Hunter Henry, one of six captains, called the 0-2 start “very frustrating.”
“We need to be a lot more disciplined,” he said. “We’ve lost two weeks in a row, two close games, we fought back and had a chance there. But we’re putting ourselves in positions too early in games, turning the ball over. We have to be better offensively.”
The Patriots visit the New York Jets (1-1) on Sunday, then travel to face the Cowboys in Week 4. This marks the first time since 1975 that the franchise opened a season losing its first two games at home.
Quarterback Mac Jones sat dejected at his locker for an extended time late Sunday night, a white towel draped over his head. He eventually made his way to the interview room and when asked the key to not letting the 0-2 start get him down, he said: “Just stay positive and try to work together and find solutions to issues or problems. That’s all you can do — arrive early, stay later, and grind with each other.”
Veteran center David Andrews believes the team can turn things around but focused more on the bottom-line results.
“I don’t think belief is the problem, to be honest with you,” he said. “Look at the last two weeks, we didn’t lay down and quit. But belief only takes you so far. You’ve got to do it at some point. It’s more about execution than belief.”