Something wasn't right with the New England Patriots on Sunday. A 23-16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars kept the Patriots' hopes for a playoff bye alive, but that won't matter if they repeat this effort.
"I don't know if we were flat or what, but it showed that we weren't ready to go right away," Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork told Comcast SportsNet New England. "When that happens, we really have to buckle down and play football. I think sometimes we did, sometimes we didn't."
New England's attack appeared lethargic, possibly a hangover from running 90-plus plays during a Week 15 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Except the Patriots are conditioned to move at that pace, a speed they never reached against the Jaguars. The Patriots were a mess on third downs (4 of 12), and Tom Brady was thrown off his axis early, tossing two interceptions and being sacked three times by the NFL's 31st-ranked defense.
The Patriots close the season Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. If the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos win in Week 17, the Patriots have lost out on the playoff bye. That means a string of road games in their attempt to return to the Super Bowl. Beating the Jaguars is one thing, but what we witnessed Sunday won't fly in January.
"I'm proud of the way that we responded, but at the same time at the end of the day, it won't be good enough," Wilfork said. "Plain and simple."
Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.