By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
September 31, 2002

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FOXBORO, MA -- A still frustrated Bill Belichick stood at the podium on Monday and was obviously still upset over the 217-yards rushing his team allowed to San Diego Chargers runningback LaDanian Tomlinson on Sunday.

New England is still recovering from their 21-14 loss to the Chargers, with their poor defensive performance still fresh in their minds as they sat through meetings on Monday after returning to work at Gillette Stadium.

New England allowed 6-runs of 12-yards or more to Tomlinson, including three rushes of 37 or more, with two of those resulting in touchdowns.

It was bad enough that Tomlinson broke through a defensive line that will now be without Anthony Pleasant who according to one source suffered a separated shoulder in the loss, but for Tomlinson to be able to break through a Patriots secondary who is supposed to have three heavy hitting safeties, Belichick said that was simply unacceptable.

And on Monday he called them out.

"Any time you give up long runs in the running game, a significant part of that problem goes to the secondary," Belichick told the media on Monday.  "Because it doesn't matter really if [the other team runs] in there and they block everybody flat on their back, you still have a second line of defense and those plays shouldn't go for more than seven, eight, ten yards maybe if they come through there clean."

"If [the runningback] gets through the line of scrimmage than it's the secondary's job to keep it to a reasonable gain."

That was something they certainly weren't able to do, allowing Tomlinson to average 8-yards per game in the contest.  Defensive backs Lawyer Milloy (1 tackle), Tebucky Jones (3-tackles), and Otis Smith (2 tackles and allowed a 52-yard touchdown reception) were all just one of many reasons why New England's 12-game winning streak came to an end after all three had sub-par performances as they watched Tomlinson spend a lot of the afternoon blowing first by the guys up front, and then past them right afterwards.

The other reason was New England's offense which twice had the ball in San Diego territory when quarterback Tom Brady was victimized on two straight possessions, throwing interceptions that were picked off at the 12 and 7-yard line for the Chargers, taking away two scoring opportunities.

For an offense that had been averaging 38-points per game coming into last Sunday, it's hard to believe that they had 440-yards in total offense and just 14-points.

Belichick obviously couldn't believe it either.

"Offensively we basically had five opportunities down there, either in the red area or down in the scoring zone across the 50 and then came out with nothing on five shots, said Belichick.  "We moved the ball but for all the yardage we had we didn't have enough points to show for it.  So that was disappointing."

If anyone thought for a moment that Belichick wouldn't call his team out when the going got tough, Monday was a good example of the fact nobody is immune to criticism.  Not the defense, not the offense, not anyone.

Needless to say there will be a lot to work on when the team returns to work on Wednesday to get ready for Miami.

"[This has happened] two weeks in a row," said Belichick.  "It's not I think a characteristic of the way we play run defense around here, and certainly not what we're looking for."


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