Matthew Slater

Patriots left speechless by one-sided loss to Titans

Patriots left speechless by one-sided loss to Titans

NASHVILLE -- The Patriots almost seemed perplexed after the fact. Flummoxed.

How could did it get so bad so quickly? In the moments after the score went final, 34-10, there was little in the way of answers coming out of the Patriots locker room.

"There's really not too much to say here this afternoon," Bill Belichick said. "The Titans did a better job than we did in every part of the game, every phase of the game. Not a good day for us. We've got a lot of work to do here, a lot of football left to go. We just didn't do much of anything well today."

Julian Edelman was brief with his answers to reporters' questions.

TITANS 34, PATRIOTS 10

"Got outplayed," he said repeatedly. "Gotta look at the film," was another common refrain.

He knew it, too. It got to the point that he apologized to those clutching microphones in front of him and looking for something, anything, to use in their postgame stories.

"I’m sorry," he said. "Sorry to be an a-hole. But we got outplayed.”

Matthew Slater was one of the last to leave the Patriots locker room. The voice of the Patriots in many ways, even he struggled to put words to what happened to the team on Sunday -- a day that started with a 58-yard kick return from Darius Jennings and didn't get much better from there.

TITANS 34, PATRIOTS 10

"We're, what, 7-3? I think obviously we've done enough good things to win seven games," Slater said, "but it's not going to be good enough down the stretch. I don't think it's something that's a complete overhaul. I just think we gotta try to tighten up the details and play together and play with good energy on the road, play with good focus on the road, and execute. It's little things, I'd say."

The bye he continued would be used to self-scout, and make the many corrections that need to be made before seeing the Jets in Week 12.

"Try to get better," Slater said. "If we don't, we're gonna be in for a tough stretch."

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Slater gave Patterson pep talk immediately before kick-return score

Slater gave Patterson pep talk immediately before kick-return score

CHICAGO -- Sony Michel had just hobbled off the field. The Bears were in the middle of an 11-play drive. On the sidelines Cordarrelle Patterson stood alone. 

Earlier in the game, Patterson fumbled a kickoff that turned into an easy five-play touchdown drive for Chicago. He tried to make a big play on his next opportunity, but he was tackled at the Patriots 18. 

Patterson was waiting for another shot, his confidence a little shot, when special teams captain Matthew Slater approached him by the Patriots bench. 

"He said, 'Listen, man. I believe in you. I believe you're the best returner in the league. We all know that. You just keep doing what you do. Stuff in football happens.' 

"That's just how Matthew is," Patterson said. "He's that guy. I appreciate him every time. I appreciate him every chance I get, because he's a motivator, man."

Slater didn't hesitate when asked what he told Patterson in that moment.

"He's the best kickoff returner in the league," Slater said. "He just needed to hear that. He's the best kickoff returner in the league. Someone needed to tell him we had his back, we had full confidence in him, and I just wanted him to make sure that he remembered that."

Moments later, Patterson was back on the field with the Patriots facing a 17-7 deficit. He fielded the kick and returned it 95 yards for a touchdown. 

"I've been in that situation," Slater said, "put the ball on the ground, and the game is kind of swirling on you. Everybody's yelling, saying something, 'Let's go,' etc. You just need to calm down and remember who you are. Remember the gifts God's given you, and we saw it shortly after that."

MORE COVERAGE FROM PATRIOTS' WIN

Patterson said several times after the game just how thankful he was for Slater's words of encouragement. 

"It helps a lot," Patterson said. "Them guys believing in you, having confidence in you. That was a big fumble. They got it on the [24]-yard line. They come down and score in three plays or whatever . . . Having confidence like that from the captain Matthew Slater, it just builds so much confidence in me, it makes me want to go out there and play for those guys."

The play itself served as a reminder of just how impactful Patterson can be as a return man. His acceleration, his speed, his elusiveness in space . . . they all contributed to the play that immediately got the Patriots back in the game after allowing 14 unanswered points.

"I was working a block with Elandon [Roberts]," Slater said, "and I saw him cut kind off behind me and I looked up, saw the kicker, and once I saw him get level with the kicker, I just ran to the sidelines. Veterans don't chase because you gotta cover down on the kickoff."

Patterson was especially pleased with the last move he made to avoid contact before he got to kicker Cody Parkey. He quickly side-stepped Kevin Toliver to find nothing but green grass in front of him. 

"When I made that step," Patterson said, "I was like, 'Damn! Did I really just do this?' I felt like it was a good move. I can't wait to get back and watch it."

Then, of course, came the celebration. Slowing down so teammate JC Jackson could catch him jogging into the end zone, Patterson high-fived the rookie and then high-stepped over the goal line. 

"It was so open, man," Patterson said with a smile. "I didn't want to celebrate by myself so I wanted one of my teammates to come and JC did a heck of a job blocking, got back up and still caught me." 

That celebration may get critiqued in a meeting at some point this week, but for one night, Patterson reveled in a bounce-back performance that followed a little well-timed encouragement from his special teams captain. 

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Slater: Pats have done "tremendous job" turning around

Slater: Pats have done "tremendous job" turning around

Just a few weeks ago, after getting run out of the building against the Detroit Lions, Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater said "To be determined" when asked what he knew about this team's toughness level, a stunning if not revealing moment of candor for the usually upbeat and universally-admired captain.

Speaking earlier this week with hosts Phil Perry and Troy Brown on NBC Sports Boston's "Monday Night Patriots", Slater has done a near-180 on those sentiments.

"Certainly I think we've done tremendous job responding to adversity earlier on in the season," Slater said. "I think we’ve played our way into a better situation. But the road’s only going to get tougher, and we’ve got to continue to be resilient. We need to trust our process and continue to believe in one another as we move forward."

Against the Colts last Thursday, the Patriots appeared to let off the gas a little bit after jumping out to a sizeable lead in the first half. While happy to get the win, Slater said that effort won't translate in the win column as the schedule toughens this week.

"You understand the name of the game is being consistent for 60 minutes, and obviously we had a little lull there in the game," Slater told Brown. "We played well on Thursday night, but we know we can play much better. We know we missed opportunities, but we did enough to win. There’s some stuff for us to work on, and we’re going to need to get that stuff ironed out quickly, especially headed into a week like this one."

Meanwhile, perhaps as expected, the return of Julian Edelman from his four-game suspension has been a galvanizing force for the locker room.

"Julian just brings such a competitive edge — in the meeting room, on the field, on the practice field," Slater said. "His energy is contagious. We’re certainly excited to have that back, to having him back out there making plays and leading us the way he does. Hopefully we can build upon that moving forward."

And as for the heavy workload in that Thursday win? Did they really intend to get him the ball on the first play of the game?

"I can say this. Julian has been working his tail off all offseason as he’s come back from the knee [injury]," Slater said. "I know he was training hard while he was away, so he said he felt good coming in, so he said he could handle whatever they threw at him."

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