It wouldn?t be entirely premature to send Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano a greeting card this week that reads, "I?m sorry for your loss."
After all, an angry bunch of New England Patriots are heading to South Beach on Sunday, and they won?t be very interested in living it up while they?re down there. New England has followed its first three defeats in 2009 with three decisive victories – smashing the Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans and New York Jets by a combined score of 116-24.
The Patriots move on, as we all know, better than anyone.
"[Get] back to work," Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss said in his postgame news conference Monday night in New Orleans. "That?s the good thing about football. Once the game is over, you?ve got 24 hours to reflect back and collect your thoughts. Once Wednesday comes, it?s another week. So a game like this, it really hurts, but once Wednesday comes, we?re focusing on the Dolphins and putting this one behind us. For right now, it hurts. [The Saints] put it to us. It?s as simple as that."
With a division rival on the horizon, the Patriots shouldn?t be in much danger of a hangover after their 38-17 loss to the Saints. The Pats are still closing in on the AFC East title, and a season sweep of the Dolphins would help their chances.
Moss said he expects head coach Bill Belichick to give the team a beating before they get back to work Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, and after the dud the Patriots laid in New Orleans, they should be looking forward to a hard day at work.
"We have expectations set high," said Moss, who caught six passes for 147 yards and one touchdown during the Patriots' 27-17 victory against the Dolphins in Week 9. "I've got big, big hopes and dreams for this team, and I don't think Bill is going to let us down. I know he's going to put it to us this week and further on. We've just got to take our lashes, and keep working hard and see if it pays off."
1. Running back Laurence Maroney has pumped a little life into his career over the last six games, rushing 99 times for 420 yards (4.2 yards per carry) for a single-season, career-high eight touchdowns. Prior to this stretch, Maroney went eight regular-season games without scoring, and he had eight rushing touchdowns in his previous 24 regular-season games. Obviously, Maroney has developed a fumbling pattern, as he has put the ball on the ground once in each of the last three games. At least against the Saints, Maroney made amends by forcing a fumble after coughing one up.
2. Wide receiver Sam Aiken set career highs with seven receptions for 90 yards on Monday. The Patriots were also better in the kicking game this week than they were against the New York Jets, and that can be attributed to Aiken?s return from a hip injury.
1. New England?s defense deserves a collective bashing, and players will certainly get one from Bill Belichick during Wednesday?s string of meetings. The Patriots surrendered eight plays that totaled 312 yards against the Saints, and all eight of those slipups went for at least 20 yards. New Orleans had four plays that covered at least 33 yards, and its two longest strikes went for 75 and 68 yards. There were breakdowns all over the place on Monday night, but Belichick remains confident that they are correctable issues.
2. Quarterback Tom Brady and the offensive line couldn't identify the Saints' defensive pressure with any consistency, and it caused a lot of quick throws and mistakes. Spread the blame around evenly. Some of it is on Brady for failing to recognize the New Orleans heat, and the rest is on the offensive linemen, who got beat off the ball all night.
3. In case you?re just waking up from a Bourbon Street-fueled coma, Notre Dame fired head coach Charlie Weis this week. And in case that coma began after the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI, Weis was the Patriots' offensive coordinator for five seasons before taking the reins in South Bend. Belichick was asked during Tuesday's conference call if there was any interest in bringing Weis back to the Foxborough sidelines, but he was noncommittal.
"I?m disappointed for Charlie, and his family and all the people they took out there with them," Belichick said. "Of course, I go back a long way with Charlie, and we have a good friendship. I talk to him on a pretty regular basis, so I'm disappointed for him on that level. But right now, my focus is on the Miami Dolphins, and getting ready to go down there and play a tough division game on the road. That's where I'm at right now. There are going to be situations like that — there have been every year — where things happen on other teams, and on other coaching staffs, or player rumors and so forth. Anything along that nature is something that would be addressed at a later point in time. It's not anything that is on the front burner at all."
Naturally, it would be too much of a shakeup to bring Weis back to New England this season, and that?s assuming the two sides are even interested in renewing professional acquaintances. Any move would likely wait until New England's season is over.