New England Patriots defeat New Orleans Saints, 24-17

As soundless as a figurative action is, one could almost hear the shift in gears.

An early two-touchdown lead against a team whose mental toughness has been tested far too many times this season should have set the tone for a comfortable drive into the gorgeous sunset outside Gillette Stadium yesterday.

But the Patriots, looking to maintain their speedy pace in cruise control, accidentally downshifted to neutral, and the laugher that should have been gave birth to th...

Survival in the National Football League is contingent on making adjustments. The survival of the Patriots as a playoff contender is pretty much based on the same thing.

Last season much of the talk was about the Patriots' remarkable 21-game winning streak. Yesterday the talk was that one thing to be thankful for on Thanksgiving Day is that the Patriots finally have won two games in a row. That's how quickly things can change and if you're not able to change with it you...

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork said he can sympathize with what coach Bill Belichick is going through in dealing with the loss of his father, Steve, who died Saturday night.

Wilfork considered quitting football after both of his parents passed away, about six months apart, in 2002.

''When my mother went into the hospital [after a stroke], I missed a game to go see her, and when she passed, it was right before a bowl game and I was thinking about hanging it up," W...

Steve Belichick was a football man -- specifically, a college football man -- and on Saturday he did what college football men do. He went to see his beloved Navy Midshipmen defeat Temple in the afternoon and then he settled in front of his television set to watch another football game Saturday night. It was, his son explained, ''what he normally does Saturday night."

But this Saturday night was different. ''His heart just stopped beating," said the son, Bill, who is th...