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Patriots keep winning even when offense falters

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm •  Published: December 3, 2012
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But McDaniels isn't used to seeing his offense sputter the way it did for much of the game in Miami. It had gained more than 440 yards in six of its previous eight games. Brady had thrown 20 touchdowns and two interceptions in that stretch.

But they didn't score a touchdown after the first six minutes of the second quarter against Miami.

"We didn't convert as often as we like," Brady said.

But they did that when they had a chance to close out the game. Leading 20-13, the Patriots got the ball with 8:28 and didn't give it back until just 1:10 remained. That 16-play, 77-yard drive lasted 7:18 and led to a field goal that made it a two-possession game.

That mattered a lot more to Belichick than the poor production earlier.

"We don't go into any game thinking, 'It's going to be this way or it's going to be that way. This is going to be a 50-49 game or it's going to be a 3-2 game or that kind of thing,'" he said. "Ultimately, at the end, it comes down to being able to make the plays you need to make to win the game."

They did that Sunday.

"We've been in those situations before where we've thrown up a lot of big numbers," Belichick said, "or scored some points and then get to that (late) point in the game and go three-and-out."

Avoiding that could be critical next Monday night when Houston visits.

The Texans (11-1) currently have the top seed in the AFC with the Baltimore Ravens second. The Patriots must pass one of them in their four remaining regular-season games to get a first-round bye.

So coordinator Matt Patricia knows his defense will have to keep playing well against Houston.

"You're talking about a very balanced, very well-put-together offense," he said.

If the game is close, Belichick hopes his team can come up with big plays down the stretch, just as it did in Miami.

"That's what I'd like to see from an offense or a defense or any part of your team for that matter, to make the critical plays that you need to make to win the game," he said. "That's really what it's all about, not a bunch of stats."

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