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Dave D'Onofrio's Patriots Notebook: Coming along nicely
Afforded the luxury of 10 days to ready themselves for Tampa, the result was crisper, cleaner, and more confidence-inspiring than their previous win over the Jets, which came only four days after the Pats had beaten the Bills. Between those first two games there was barely time for walkthroughs, let alone full practices, which gave a young team little time to implement improvements and make corrections.
A defense that's early success had been doubted because its opponents were helmed by a couple of rookie quarterbacks over the first two weeks stopped Tampa Bay four times on fourth down in becoming the first Pats team since 1979 to allow 34 points or fewer over its first three contests (with seven of those surrendered on a returned fumble against Buffalo).
It's too early for that talk yet, particularly with the Dolphins looking like a formidable factor in the AFC East, and with the schedule about to get significantly tougher. Next Sunday, the Pats travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons in prime time, then they go to Cincinnati before returning home to face New Orleans the week after that.
That said, with a full week between each challenge to prepare, work, practice and get better, the Patriots should be, too.
Dave D'Onofrio covers the Patriots for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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