The Patriots have a bye in Week 4. It's the first week of byes across the NFL, the earliest a team gets to step back from the rigors of a regular game week and evaluate its season to date.
New England hits the bye trailing Buffalo (3-0) in the AFC East with a 2-1 record after Sunday's disappointing 38-13 loss to previously dismal divisional rival Miami (1-2) at Gillette Stadium. Some had the Patriots penciled in for a perfect start to 2008, even with Tom Brady lost in the first quarter of the first game, but the Dolphins beat down any feelings of grandeur in New England and left the Patriots reeling.
There is little chance the New England offense will resemble the Brady-led attack that rewrote the record books a year ago on the way to an undefeated season. But surprisingly, it's the Patriots defense that seems to have more questions than answers heading into the bye week.
The group, which had been solid in the red zone over the first two weeks as it made key stops to help the team to the 2-0 record, fell on its face against Miami. The visiting Dolphins used a version of the spread attack at times with Ronnie Brown running option-style plays out of a shotgun look. Brown set a Dolphins record with four rushing scores, threw for a score and Ricky Williams ran for 98 yards of his own. Oh, and Chad Pennington hit on 17 of 20 passes for 226 yards.
The sum total devastation left the New England defenders heading into the bye looking for answers.
"When you have a day like that, it's very disappointing," defensive lineman Richard Seymour said. "But you live to fight another day. And competitively speaking, it kind of sucks because we have the bye. You always want to get back out there and try to redeem yourself, so to speak. We'll watch the film and like I said, take the tape and throw it across the river somewhere."
The Patriots will have time to watch the dismal tape, throw it in the river and get better on defense over the bye. And in theory, Bill Belichick's boys will return after the week off a better team. It can't get much worse than the one that showed up against the Dolphins last Sunday in Foxborough.
Joey Porter (55) had 3 sacks on the day. (AP Photo)
--QB Matt Cassel threw his first interception in an underwhelming Week 3 of work in the loss to Miami. Cassel went 19 of 31 against Miami for 131 yards with one touchdown and one interception for a 68.1 passer rating.
--WR Wes Welker tied for a team-high six catches for 55 yards in the loss to Miami, despite continuing to battle a rib injury first suffered in preseason action.
--TE Benjamin Watson (right knee) was active for the first time this season in Sunday's loss to Miami. He caught one pass for six yards.
--RB Laurence Maroney (shoulder) led New England's list of inactives in Sunday's game against Miami. The rest of the list included third QB Matt Gutierrez, WR Kelley Washington, FB Kyle Eckel, LB Eric Alexander (calf), C Dan Connolly, T Wesley Britt and LB Shawn Crable.
--TE Ben Coates, this year's inductee into the Patriots Hall of Fame, served as an honorary captain for New England against Miami.
--LB Jerod Mayo, the team's top pick and opening-day starter, missed his first defensive play of the season when he was removed from the opening series on a third down against Miami. Mayo, who had played every single defensive snap in his first two NFL games, continued to see the bulk of the snaps against the Dolphins, finishing tied with Rodney Harrison with a game-high 12 tackles.
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