To say the atmosphere in the Patriots locker room after Monday night’s loss to the Miami Dolphins was moribund is a massive understatement.
There was nothing cheery about New England’s trip to the Sunshine State – and Tom Brady took the brunt of it when he spoke to reporters at Hard Rock Stadium following the loss.
“It was a bad night, we didn’t make enough plays. We’ve had a lot of good nights this year, and this was a bad night,” Brady said in the post game press conference.
The 27-20 final score doesn’t reflect just how out of sync the Pats looked without Rob Gronkowski – or how disturbing the first down stats were.
Brady, who is now 7-9 in Miami after finishing 24-of-43 for 233 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, was the first to admit: “I’ve got to throw the ball better, that’s where it starts.”
When asked if the loss was “just a coincidence” on the one game he didn’t have Gronk to throw to, Brady diplomatically replied: “He’s a great player so any time he is out there [on the field], it helps us. But we’ve got a lot of other good players. We try to spread the ball around quite a bit but we just didn’t get enough good plays."
Looking drained and exhausted during the presser that went on well past midnight on the east coast, Brady lacked his usual spark as he spoke to equally dejected Patriots beat reporters.
“We just got behind and it’s not really the way we wanted to play the game. It was just a bad loss,” he said.
“We’re just not playing well, I don’t think it’s anything about being down here,” he continued, when asked why the Pats seem to have a constant struggle in Miami. “Just didn’t play good. We tried to battle back and just couldn’t do it, it was a bad night. I wish we’d played better, we didn’t and we’ve got to move on and play better next week.
“It’s a short week and we’ve a lot to catch up on. You can’t go up there and play like that," he said, referring to Sunday's face-off with the Steelers. "We have to do a lot of things better and that’s what we’ll focus on this week.
“Tonight, we were behind and turned it over, and played on their terms all night … it wasn’t a good night so we need to work harder on all of those things. We have to go to Pittsburgh and try to be a good team,” Brady concluded, before politely excusing himself.
Gronk’s absence was certainly felt by his other teammates, with wide receiver Danny Amendola saying before the game: “He’s an extremely good football player. He adds so much to our team. Any time you don’t have Gronk, it’s tough.”
As you’d expect, Bill Belichick was stoic in his reaction to the loss – making grunt-like responses to media questions.
“Bottom line was we didn’t have a good night offensively in really any area and we were probably fortunate to have the points that we had with a couple of big plays and gained a lot of yards in a few plays,” he said.
Later as the locker room cleared out and players’ name plates were pulled off and packed up, no one dared look Belichick in the eye as he gathered his own bags.
As he prepared for what Brady later described as a “quiet flight home,” it was clearly to everyone present that we’re definitely "on to Pittsburgh."
With the top seed in the AFC on the line against a Steelers team who the Pats have dominated of late, Brady was already looking forward with a fresher vision by the time of his Tuesday morning interview with WEEI's "Kirk & Callahan."
"I’ve pretty much moved past it," he said. "When I got on the flight, about midway through the flight after I watched film of the game, I tried to move on. It doesn’t feel good obviously, but there’s nothing we can do about it. You can’t change it and you have to be able to now focus on what’s next and what’s ahead and it’s a real good team, and we can't afford to lose any more times than we already have."