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With missed opportunities, Patriots drop to 3-3

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With missed opportunities, Patriots drop to 3-3

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) A missed field goal in the final seconds against Arizona. A game-winning kick by the Ravens as the clock ran out. And now a 46-yard touchdown pass that gave the Seahawks the lead in the final minutes.

The Patriots are 3-3 after losing 24-23 to Seattle on Sunday, leaving the defending conference champions and favorites to repeat locked in a four-way tie in the AFC East. In all three losses, New England had a second-half lead - twice leading by two scores in the fourth quarter.

``When we really needed it, we weren't able to make the plays we needed to make,'' coach Bill Belichick said in a conference call with reporters on Monday. ``It's just disappointing. We've come up short in three games - not by very much but it's been enough.

``We have to find a way to perform better, both throughout the game and certainly in the critical game-changing situations at the end.''

The Patriots were on their way to a win that would have given them the lead in the division, leading Seattle 23-10 in the fourth after Stephen Gostkowski's field goal. But Russell Wilson hit Braylon Edwards on a 10-yard touchdown pass midway through the quarter and then connected with Sidney Rice for 46 yards to give Seattle a one-point lead with 78 seconds to play.

Having wasted two timeouts early in the half, the Patriots had none remaining by their final drive. Tom Brady was unable to lead them to a first down, and the Seahawks kneeled down for the victory.

``The end of the game is the most critical part of the game, and we need to do better,'' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Monday. ``I need to do better. We can prepare better and we can play better in those situations to try to finish the games out. ... We've been in it a few times and we need to be able to close out the games when we get that opportunity.''

New England also struggled to manage its timeouts at the end of the first half, using one to avoid a delay of game penalty on a fourth-and-1 from the Seattle 6 yard-line before sending Gostkowski out for a 25-yard field goal that made it 17-10 with 2:12 to go.

After Seattle punter Jon Ryan fumbled the snap and gave the Patriots the ball at the Seahawks' 24 with 40 seconds left in the half, Brady hit Wes Welker for 15 yards but used another timeout - and 21 seconds - before the next play.

The Patriots ran just one more play before calling their last timeout, leaving them with no way to stop the clock when Brady was called for intentional grounding - a penalty that requires a 10-second runoff - with 1 second left in the half.

Instead of seven points or an easy field goal, the Patriots went to the locker room with nothing.

``It's just one of those things were we just came up short in that instance and the one thing that probably couldn't have happened, happened,'' said Welker, who caught 10 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. ``And it's disappointing.''

The failure to finish teams off has been a disappointment all season.

In Week 2, the Patriots led the Cardinals 9-6 early in the third quarter but fell behind 20-9. New England cut it to eight points on a field goal and made it 20-18 on a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski; the 2-point conversion to tie it failed.

The Patriots got to the Cardinals' 18 before a false start and a loss of a yard left them with a 42-yard field goal attempt that Gostkowski missed.

Against Baltimore the next week, the Patriots led 30-21 early in the fourth before the Ravens scored a touchdown and then, as time expired, Baltimore's Justin Tucker put a 27-yard field goal over the right upright to win the game.

``When you get down to the end of the fourth quarter, then the whole game really now hinges on just a handful of plays or sometimes just one play,'' Belichick said. ``Not that all the rest of them don't matter; they do. But ... how well can you execute that, one, two or however many plays it is that are now going to determine the outcome of the game.

``Mental toughness, I think, is part of it. Awareness is part of it. Basic execution is part of it. Conditioning is part of it. Scheming and actual technique of the play, the way the play is set up - all those things are part of it.''

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."

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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There are no dreary work days for Don Martindale, who has overwhelmingly embraced his new role as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

After serving for five seasons as the team's linebackers coach, Martindale was promoted to coordinator in January after Dean Pees left the post.

Enthusiastic doesn't even begin to describe Martindale's attitude about being in charge of the defense.

"Ever since we've made this transition, it's been a joy to just come through those gates every day. I love it," Martindale said after Wednesday's mandatory minicamp practice.

This isn't the first time Martindale has been put in charge of molding a defense. In 2010, he watched over a unit in Denver that was the worst in the NFL in both yards and points allowed per game.

Given a second chance, the 55-year-old Martindale is putting together a defense that will rely heavily on the instinct of several of its most proven players, most notably safety Eric Weddle and linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley.

"He's just putting his personal fix on our defense and expanding it, giving the guys confidence to play fast," Weddle said. "The idea is to do what's best for the defense, not what's best the individual."

Martindale called Mosley "the quarterback" of a fluid unit that can make a snap-change from drop-back coverage to an all-out blitz. In that regard, Mosley believes this defense is superior to the one that in 2017 yielded 18.9 points per game, sixth-best in the NFL.

"The way we're able to use our core guys, put them in different spots and do some of the same things just from different positions, it's more creative, I would say, than where we were last year," Mosley said.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh promoted Martindale rather than go outside the organization because he wanted to extend his vision of a defense that has evolved since his arrival in 2008.

"All we're doing is forwarding John's plan," Martindale said. "We're remodeling the package. It's still Ravens football, it's still Ravens defense, but we've streamlined it. It's the elegant simplicity. Guys are playing really fast."

Asked for his take on Martindale's defense, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg replied, "They're fast and they're furious."

Sure, things might be different once the pads go on at training camp, but at this point, Martindale's boss likes what he sees.

"We're doing a lot of neat things on defense, things that are really good," Harbaugh said. "More than ever, we're putting it on our players to make decisions in real time."

Martindale has a new title, but old habits die hard.

"For the most part, it's been the same," Mosley said. "He always comes in and says, `I have to lead the linebacker room,' and sits down and gets to talking like he's back at linebacker coach."

Told of Mosley's disclosure, Martindale smiled and said, "I've been trying to stay out of there, but you can't help but go in. That's home. I have a good time in the secondary room as well."

And just about everywhere else.

"Where we're going with this thing is really exciting to me," Martindale said, "and I know it's exciting to the players."

In other training camp news, cornerback Jimmy Smith was a surprise participant at practice, going through a light regimen of individual drills just six months after tearing his left Achilles tendon.

"I don't know if Jimmy's like half Wolverine, but he's healed up in half the time of regular human beings," Weddle said, referring to the amazing recuperative powers of the Marvel super hero.

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