Patriots

Patriots haven't struggled this much at home since Bledsoe's rookie year

Patriots

There's an entire generation of New England Patriots fans who are seeing their team struggle to win at home for the first time.

The Patriots put up a great fight in Sunday's Week 6 game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium, but they lost 35-29 in overtime to fall to 2-4. 

What's worse for the Patriots is they remain winless at home. They are 0-4 in Foxboro for the first time since 1993 -- Drew Bledsoe's rookie season.

This is just the second time in the 22 years Bill Belichick has been the Patriots' head coach that this team has lost more than three games at home in a single season.

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The first occurrence came in 2000, Belichick's first year on the job and Tom Brady's rookie season. Bledsoe started all 16 games and the Patriots struggled to a 5-11 record, including a 3-5 mark at the old Foxboro Stadium.

The next 19 years were very different with Brady as the starting quarterback. Over that span, the Patriots' worst record at home was 5-3, which happened five times. They went a perfect 8-0 at Gillette Stadium seven times during that stretch. 

There were times when the Patriots literally couldn't be beaten in front of their home fans. The Patriots went 19-0 (including the playoffs) at home over their Super Bowl-winning seasons in 2003 and 2004. Coming to Foxboro was a basically automatic loss for opposing teams.

 

But as Patriots safety Devin McCourty noted after Sunday's loss to the Cowboys, that history means nothing in 2021. 

"It is what it is. I say it all the time -- everything in the past has nothing to do with this year," McCourty said. "I don't think anybody thinks about the 2004 team and says, 'Man, it was tough in 2004, we gotta go there now in 2021.' It just is what it is. We're the 2021 Patriots who haven't won at home.

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"The past doesn't matter. What those guys did in the past won't help us. We've just got to make a few plays at the end. It's not like we're just coming in here at home and have no shot to win. In all of these games, even in the Saints game (in Week 3), it came down to a couple plays that we're not finishing and we're falling short."

The Patriots are playing nine home games this season with the NFL moving to a 17-game schedule. One of their easiest remaining games is at home next Sunday against the rival New York Jets. 

After that, the Patriots play five of their next seven games on the road, including tough matchups versus the Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills.

The Patriots need to improve at home or they won't make the playoffs for the second consecutive season.