FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) – The New England Patriots already have more losses than they had in each of the past two seasons.

Injuries and big plays by opponents also have piled up, and the Patriots have a lot of problems on offense and defense.

But for a team trying to be the first to win three straight Super Bowls, they have plenty of something else: time to turn their season around.

This week’s bye gives the Patriots a chance to get healthier and analyze what’s gone wrong. And they still have 10 regular-season games left to improve.

“When you have time to re-evaluate yourself, you always can find a lot of things that aren’t good,” tight end Christian Fauria said. “It turns into a 10-week season and our goal is to win the AFC East.”

The Patriots haven’t won two consecutive games, but share the division lead with Buffalo at 3-3.

They’re followed by Miami (2-3) and the New York Jets (2-4). All have had quarterback problems except New England, where Tom Brady had some outstanding games despite a poor running attack, dropped passes and inconsistent line play.

But coach Bill Belichick, who shies away from public analysis of individual players, wouldn’t say how he thought the two-time Super Bowl MVP who has led his team to one last-minute victory this year and had a chance at a second has played.

“I’m saying the same thing about everybody,” Belichick said. “He’s had good plays. I’m sure he’s had some plays that he’d like to have back, like we all would.”

The Patriots can’t match their 14-2 records of the past two seasons, but six of their last 10 games are against division opponents, starting Oct. 30 with a Sunday night home game against Buffalo.

And six of the 10 are at home, where they won 21 straight before losing to San Diego in the fourth game of the season.

Pro Bowl defensive end Richard Seymour plans to play against Buffalo after missing the last two games with a knee injury.

Pro Bowl linebacker Tedy Bruschi hopes to play then after participating in his first practice Wednesday since he had a mild stroke last February.

“I don’t think anyone can say who is going to be in the playoffs,” Seymour said. “There is a lot of football left to be played.”

The remaining games will show if the depth and team-oriented approach Belichick has built can overcome the loss of key players.

Safety Rodney Harrison, the hard-hitting catalyst of the defense, is out for the season with a knee injury. Offensive tackle Matt Light and running back Kevin Faulk aren’t expected back soon.

Running back Corey Dillon and wide receiver Troy Brown were sidelined for last Sunday’s 28-20 loss at Denver. The Patriots ended that game with fourth-stringer Arturo Freeman, signed a few days earlier, playing Harrison’s spot after the first two replacements were hurt.

In that game, the Patriots allowed pass plays of 55 and 72 yards and a running play of 68.

“We’ve been competitive,” linebacker Mike Vrabel said. “The problem is big plays. You can’t give up the same yardage in three plays as you do (in) 55 plays.”

The Patriots struggled offensively in the first 2 quarters against Denver, falling behind 28-3. Belichick didn’t blame that, or offensive problems in other games, on the departure of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, who called the plays before becoming head coach at Notre Dame this year.

“What difference does it make?” who calls the plays, Belichick said. “It’s the same plays.”

After beating the Patriots, San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer wondered out loud how long the Patriots could keep plugging in replacements for injured players and continue to succeed.

As time passes, those players should become more familiar with each other. Bruschi says he can only play one position. But he can guide his teammates to the right spots on the field.

“It can take time” for him to play at his previous level, Bruschi said. “I also think it can possibly happen quickly because I think I can draw upon my experience” in Belichick’s system.

The Patriots need more than Bruschi to improve their defense. They have just one interception and two fumble recoveries. Only nine teams have fewer than their 11 sacks.

But just as a frustrated Harrison can only watch while looking ahead to next season, the team that hardly seems ready to win its fourth Super Bowl title in five years could change that with a few good games.

“You’ve got to be able to deal with the tough times as well as some of the great times,” Harrison said.

AP-ES-10-20-05 2230EDT


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