FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – Bill Belichick sounded as if the Monday after the lopsided loss by his Super Bowl champion New England Patriots wasn’t much different than all his other Mondays.

“You go in there and watch film and correct the mistakes,” the coach said. “That’s what the day after the game is for.”

Only this time one day might not be enough to watch all the mistakes New England made in Sunday’s 41-17 loss to the San Diego Chargers. That ended the Patriots’ 21-game home winning streak and the belief that they could overcome the mounting loss of players, no matter how talented.

Hard-hitting safety Rodney Harrison missed his first game since joining the team for the 2003 season. San Diego tight end Antonio Gates had six catches for 108 yards and wide receivers roamed without fear of being leveled by Harrison, out for the season with a knee injury.

“Who else would you want covering Antonio Gates?” inside linebacker Monty Beisel said Monday, “but we didn’t have him. You’re going into the race without that racehorse.”

The Patriots already were missing linebackers Tedy Bruschi and the retired Ted Johnson – Beisel and Chad Brown have struggled as their replacements – and both starting cornerbacks are sidelined.

It’s “a team in transition,” Belichick said.

And the schedule doesn’t get any easier.

After playing San Diego, one of the NFL’s most productive offenses, the Patriots next two games are on the road against two 3-1 teams, Atlanta and Denver.

“We’ve got to get better real, real fast,” linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said.

The Chargers held the ball 13 more minutes than the Patriots and were 7-for-12 on third-down plays. The Patriots put little pressure on quarterback Drew Brees and gave up the most points in their last 117 games since a 41-10 loss on Nov. 8, 1998.

The loss to San Diego “leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” defensive end Ty Warren said, “but, at the same time, you can’t harp on it. It’s a humbling experience and something that we don’t look forward to experiencing again.”

The Patriots are an aggressive defense, but Beisel found himself attacking too little and reacting too much. That can happen against a running back with moves and power like LaDainian Tomlinson and a tight end like Gates.

“It was gut-wrenching,” Beisel said. “They had us up against the ropes all day.”

The Patriots still have a good chance to win the AFC East. Quarterback problems have hit the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, and the Miami Dolphins are trying to rebound from a 4-12 season.

Besides, the Patriots were 1-3 in 2001 and won the Super Bowl. In 2003, they were 2-2 and didn’t lose again as they rolled to their second championship in three years.

If Sunday’s blowout “was the last game of the season, yeah, it would be hard to leave behind,” Warren said, “but we’ve got 12 more games to play and however many other games we play beyond that.”

Belichick’s ability to plug players in for injured teammates and keep winning will be tested. Second-year pro Guss Scott replaced Harrison and rookie Nick Kaczur took over at left tackle for Matt Light, who has a broken leg.

That didn’t stop the Patriots from beating Pittsburgh 23-20 in the third game of the season. But they hardly look like the team that went 36-4 before losing to Carolina.

“As far as how we played around here the last couple of years,” Colvin said, “it’s very disappointing for us to go out there and perform like we did.”


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