Patriots work on rebounding from blowout, boos

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots fans had little to cheer about in the team's worst home loss in 10 years. They even booed the club that had won three Super Bowls in the past seven seasons.

That's their right, cornerback Ellis Hobbs said Monday, but he's amazed that they did it as the players left the field at halftime of the 38-13 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

"It doesn't hurt," Hobbs said. "It amazes me how people react. You would think that this organization hasn't won as much as they have and been successful in the years that they have, and it's a testament to how spoiled they are where expectations are that high that we're not allowed a bad game."

He and coach Bill Belichick agreed that it was a very bad game, a failure on both offense and defense.

Still, to hear the fans at the team's 153rd straight home sellout boo was something that Hobbs said he won't forget.

"I use it as a thing to remember when you are successful and that's how you keep it all in perspective," he said calmly, "because as soon as they're stabbing you in the back, as soon as they're booing at you, whatever, they're ready to pat you again as soon as something" good happens.

But, Hobbs acknowledged, that's the fans' right.

"We chose to do this job. We get paid for it," he said. "You have to take the good with the bad and that's just one of the bad things about the game."

Now, Hobbs and Belichick say, it's time to look ahead. The Patriots have this bye week to work on their problems. Then they head to San Francisco and San Diego for a two-game road trip in which they plan to stay on the West Coast between games.

"We don't have the luxury of panicking like a fan does or to sit there and boo," Hobbs said. "We're not sitting here panicking. It's Week 3. We're moving on to San Francisco."

The 25-point loss was the Patriots worst since they were beaten by the Atlanta Falcons 41-10 on Nov. 8, 1998, at Foxboro Stadium. The Falcons went on to the Super Bowl that season.

The Patriots moved to Gillette Stadium for the 2002 season where every game has been sold out and fans had seen just nine losses, during the regular season and playoffs, until Sunday's blowout. During that time, the Patriots won 47 games at Gillette.

"This is a game we obviously all feel bad about," Belichick said Monday. "This was a total team loss. I don't think we did a good job coaching, starting with me. We didn't do a good job playing. We were pretty well beat in every phase of the game, except for special teams."

Hobbs was a rare bright spot, returning six kickoffs for a team-record 237 yards.

But the Patriots were outgained 461 yards to 216 and Matt Cassel, with Tom Brady out for the season, completed 19 of 31 passes for 131 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a lost fumble. He was sacked three times. Rookie Kevin O'Connell came in with 6:08 left in the game and was sacked once.

Why did Belichick bring O'Connell in?

"We put in a lot of people at that point," he said.

Usually, the Patriots put in seldom-used players when they have the game well in hand. They had won an NFL-record 21 straight regular-season games until Sunday's loss.

Now they want to avoid a losing streak.

"We're not a team that's going to make excuses," running back LaMont Jordan said. "We just got outplayed yesterday. The key for us is how we're going to bounce back from that."

They'll have to do that on the road since their next home game is nearly a month away, on Oct. 20 against the Denver Broncos.

By then, maybe Patriots fans will have something to cheer about again.

"There's a certain level of expectancy and they hold us to a higher standard," tight end Benjamin Watson said, "much like the standard that we hold ourselves to."

Hobbs wasn't happy with the booing but knows the fans also can provide a boost.

"They pay (for) their ticket. They can say what they want to say," he said. "They expect the best out of us, which is good. When you have people with high expectations of you, you tend to meet those expectations."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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