FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It's been philosophized that every battle (or in the case of the NFL, game) is won before it is even fought (or played). In football, that equates to a good week of practice leading up to a successful Sunday on the field.
After the Patriots' 20-18 defeat at the hands of the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon, one topic that arose from the locker room was that an insufficient week of practice led up to the team's home opener.
Offensive guard Logan Mankins expressed after the game that he, and the entire team, didn't feel like practice was at the level it needed to be.
"We didn't have a good practice there towards the end of the week, and I think it showed," he said. "We didn't play very well, and when you're playing a good team, like we said all week, they're good, so if you don't play good against a good team you're going to lose."
When pressed for specifics on what fell short, Mankins cited a lack of crisp and clean execution.
"Just not the way we wanted it," he continued. "Not as crisp, not as clean as you really want to practice going into a big game, and that's what we had and I think it carried over."
Tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Wes Welker echoed Mankins' feelings.
“You gotta be ready for any situation, for any game. That’s what practice is for all week," Gronkowski added. "Clearly, we didn’t practice good enough, I didn’t practice good enough all week, and we have to pick that up and be ready for all situations at all times.”
"We didn’t have a great week of practice and Coach made a point of that, that we needed to almost play some catch up," said Welker. "We really didn’t do things necessary to come away with a win, especially early. We have to start faster than that and come out and play from ahead and do things the way we need to."
Welker noted struggles with mental preparation during practice.
"Just a lot of mental errors and things like that, guys not doing their assignments and not doing their job," he said.
Cornerback Kyle Arrington suggested after the game that the team struggled with Arizona's schemes even during the practice week.
"It started in the week in practice," he said. "Everybody will probably tell you that everybody knew what they were doing and we still couldn't even get it done in some instances on the practice field: blown calls, lack of communication or whatever the case is and it showed up today in the game."
Linebacker Jerod Mayo didn't see the situation quite the same way, but rather cited a lack of execution.
"I don't know, it felt like a normal week," he said of practice. "Guys went out there to work, and we had a game plan, we just didn't execute."
Nonetheless, preparation will remain critical for the Patriots, who are now staring down a Week 3 Sunday night showdown with the Ravens. Mankins says Sunday's loss served as a lesson for the team.
"I think we learned from that," he said. "We better have a better practice this week."