Patriots

Matthew Slater: 'I don't think we've played our best football yet'

Matthew Slater: 'I don't think we've played our best football yet'

FOXBORO — Matthew Slater didn’t think Thursday’s game was the prettiest he’s seen. Then again, perhaps he’s seen more football this season than he’s cared to. 

After spending the early going of the season watching from the sidelines with a hamstring injury as the Pats jumped out to a 2-2 start, the special teams star made his season debut Thursday in a 19-14 win over the Bucs. 

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It’s been a strange season for Slater, who was hindered by injury over the first four weeks and had to watch a worse-than-anticipated product while doing so. Now finally able to contribute, he’s one of a room full of players just trying to right the ship. 

“Obviously it’s been a little bit up and down thus far,” Slater said when asked to reflect on the 3-2 start. “I don’t think we’ve played our best football yet in the season, which is a good thing because we’re still sitting here with a winning record and there’s a lot of room for us to improve. 

“I think for us, we just have to strive to continue to be consistent. Consistency is something that we’ve lacked a little bit early on in the season. Hopefully, though, as we continue to progress through the season, we can build upon what we did last night and try to become a little bit more consistent. And that’s a day-to-day thing. It’s not a Sunday-to-Sunday thing; it’s literally a day-to-day thing.”

Given that the Patriots were coming off a disappointing loss to the Panthers, a win of any kind would suffice to prevent a 2-3 start in a season many believed could have yielded a 16-0 record. Though it was the Patriots’ worst offensive performance of the season, defensive issues that plagued the team over the first four weeks were corrected as the team allowed a season-low points. 

“That was an important game for us last night,” Slater said. “I thought we showed a lot of mental and physical toughness. I’ve said my piece several times on what I feel about Thursday night games in regards to player safety and health, but I think what we did coming off a tough loss, an emotionally draining loss, to come back and re-focus ourselves, get back on the horse and take care of our business, I think that said a lot about our football team last night. ‘Mentally tough’ was the way I described it last night and that was good for us.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: 'Incomprehensible' to expect same greatness from Patriots?

0:43 - Tom Curran, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley talk about Bill Belichick saying it’s “incomprehensible” that people expect the Patriots to be on the same level as last year at this point in the season.

11:55 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and Michael Holley discuss J.R. Smith’s comments about the Celtics not being a threat to the Cavaliers.

15:38 - Abby Chin, Chris Mannix, and A. Sherrod Blakely join BST from Cleveland to talk about Marcus Smart and the Celtics failing to agree to a contract extension, making him a restricted free agent in July. They also preview Tuesday’s Celtics-Cavaliers season opener.

19:25 - Reports say Alex Cora is the frontrunner for the Red Sox managerial position, but Brad Ausmus interviewed for the position on Monday. Who is the right man for the job? Tom Giles and Michael Holley discuss.

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans end 11-game skid to Colts with 36-22 win

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MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Titans end 11-game skid to Colts with 36-22 win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Marcus Mariota threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Taywan Taylor with 5:29 left , and the Tennessee Titans beat the Indianapolis Colts 36-22 on Monday night to snap an 11-game skid tied for the NFL's longest active losing streak against one team.

Mariota didn't move around much on a cool night after missing a game with a strained left hamstring, but still managed to throw for a season-high 306 yards. He completed each of his three passes on the drive that ended with Taylor's tiebreaking score.

The Titans (3-3) also snapped a two-game skid with the win.

Jacoby Brissett tried to rally the Colts (2-4) to a second straight overtime. But Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard forced Brissett out of bounds shy of the first down marker on fourth-and-inches with 2:19 left. Coach Chuck Pagano lost his challenge.

Derrick Henry then clinched the win for Tennessee with a 72-yard TD run with 47 seconds left. Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, finished with a career-high 131 yards on 19 carries. DeMarco Murray also scored.

The Titans looked like the NFL's worst scoring defense in the first half instead of Indianapolis, with Brissett directing the Colts to a 13-9 halftime lead. John Simon then intercepted Mariota's first pass of the third quarter and returned it 26 yards for a TD.

But the Titans forced the Colts to go three-and-out on three of their first four drives of the second half, and Avery Williamson stripped tight end Jack Doyle of the ball after a catch.

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