FOXBORO -- Tom Brady took the podium this week in an unusual circumstance.
The Patriots have a losing record.
Only three games have come and gone in 2012, but this is a team that played 145 consecutive games at .500 or better, the longest streak of its kind in NFL history. In New England, the possibility of three losses in a row is a "situation." Or at least that's how it was being posed to players in the locker room.
Brady went through a gauntlet of "What's gone wrong?" queries Wednesday.
"Its not like we sit here and look in the locker room and say, Wow, were terrible, we cant make any plays, were not even in these games,'" the quarterback said. "Were right in them; we just have to do a better job in certain areas. If we do that, well start winning close games. If we dont, well have a miserable year. No one wants that around here.
"Thats really what my concern is: How the team responds . . . this is about winning."
It's an inarguable point. What will be scrutinized and criticized is what the Patriots do about it. Brady knows better than anyone.
"We have to obviously make improvements because what were doing isnt good enough. Thats in any area -- thats certainly that everyone has to look at what they can do better to really help the team win. So, its frustrating when we lose. Its been two weeks in a row and obviously nobody feels very good about it."
New England can stop its slide Sunday in Buffalo.
There's no point in asking if the game is a must-win -- every player on every team will tell you every game is 'must-win.'
But is it fair to assume some urgency? Sure.
"All of our energy and focus is on this particular opponent and the challenges they present, certainly a big challenge for us. Theyre a very good team, very well coached and they play well at home. Its going to be a battle."
Buffalo knocked New England off its high horse last year with a 34-31 win at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Brady threw four interceptions on a beautiful September afternoon.
To avoid a repeat performance of that, or to avoid a continuation of... this, the Patriots will need to hone its killer instinct. Brady said after the Baltimore game Sunday that its something the team currently lacks.
Only one of New England's six losses in the last two years was by more than four points -- an eight point defeat in Pittsburgh the night before Halloween 2011.
What it comes down to, as far as Brady is concerned, is playing the best football when the pressure is highest.
"I think its just more that whether you make the play or you dont make the play on Sunday, certainly sometimes you just dont make the play. To not be aware of the situation is another thing. I think hes always trying to coach us to be aware of the situation. Whether we execute it great or not, you can know exactly what to do and how to do it but you just dont get it done. I dont think its from us not knowing whats going on out there. I just think we need to a do a better job executing."
Be clear: Brady wasn't moping about having a losing record through three weeks. Using failure as motivation is much different than rolling around, getting comfortable in the mire.
"You cant sit around for four days and mourn a loss and say, God, this is the end of our year," he said. "I mean, were 1-2, were not in a good position right now, were in the exact position we deserve to be in, and weve got to do something about it. So the energy and attention is focused on this opponent and how we can be better and how we can play better so that hopefully if we play well, we can get to 2-2.
"That's the only place we can go from here."
That's their hope, anyway.