Patriots having fourth quarter problems

Associated Press Modified: October 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm •  Published: October 19, 2012

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — When the fourth quarter starts, the New England Patriots stop.

From last season's Super Bowl to last Sunday's loss, they've been outscored 47-21 in the final period in six of their seven games. They've lost their touch for finishing strong.

"The end of the game is the most critical part of the game," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said, "and we need to do better."

The Patriots led the New York Giants 17-15 going into the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl but lost 21-17. This season, two of their three losses came when they led after the third quarter. The only game in which they were clearly superior in the fourth was a 52-28 win over Buffalo when they outscored the Bills 31-7 in that period.

In that fourth quarter alone, they scored four touchdowns and one field goal.

In their other five games, they have just one touchdown and four field goals in the final 15 minutes.

They hope to change that Sunday against the New York Jets in a meeting of two of the four AFC East teams tied for first place at 3-3.

"There's no magic formula or plays to call," quarterback Tom Brady said. "It's just a matter of doing it and doing it well. Football requires 53 players to all be on the same page and that's why we practice and talk about things and that's why we meet all day. I think we've been presented with some situations where we haven't done that."

Like last Sunday in Seattle.

They led the Seahawks 20-10 after three quarters but lost 24-23 with the offense, defense and special teams all failing in critical fourth-quarter situations. Brady threw an interception in the end zone and later was penalized for intentional grounding, the secondary allowed two touchdown passes and Zoltan Mesko's line-drive punt allowed Leon Washington's 25-yard punt return that helped set up the deciding touchdown and extra point.

"When you get down to the end of the fourth quarter, then the whole game really now hinges on just a handful of plays or sometimes just one play," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "Then it really becomes an awareness thing and certainly an execution thing.

"Mental toughness, I think, is part of it, awareness is part of it, basic execution is part of it, conditioning is part of it, scheming and actual technique of the play, the way the play is set up, all those things are part of it."

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