In the aftermath of surrendering five touchdown passes to an opposing quarterback for the second time in Bill Belichick's 21 years as New England Patriots coach, there was optimism from starting safety Devin McCourty early Monday morning.
"Sometimes games like this let you know you have a shot. We have a shot to be a really good football team," McCourty said, as the Patriots now look ahead to Sunday's game against the visiting Las Vegas Raiders (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
But McCourty was looking deeper, and what he saw was more exemplary offensive execution than poor defensive play, especially on the longest scoring passes -- 54 yards to DK Metcalf and 38 yards to David Moore.
"Those passes literally are two fingertips away from a pass breakup or a really good catch," McCourty said. "They made the really good catches. That's what's tough. We draw that play up, our guys are exactly where they want to be. It's just a good throw and catch. Sometimes in this league, a good throw and catch beats really good coverage."
To which Belichick said: "I'm glad that we only have to play [Wilson] once every four years. I think he's a tremendous player. ... You just have to give him credit."
Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, who was in coverage on the Metcalf touchdown, said he felt like he was in good position, keeping his leverage, and that credit goes to Wilson for "buying time" and putting the ball where Gilmore couldn't get it.
How rare was Sunday night for the Patriots' secondary?
Consider that opposing receivers caught four touchdowns against the Patriots over the course of the 2019 season. On Sunday night, Wilson had four scoring throws to receivers.
Belichick concurred with McCourty in that the two longest touchdowns were "very well defended" and he appeared to be talking about a 21-yarder to running back Chris Carson when he said, "The other one wasn't bad; He had a guy right in his face and still made a great throw."
Only Freddie Swain's 21-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the third quarter looked like a defensive breakdown, as he wasn't touched.
"It's not always going to go the way you want. You never want to play a game and give up 35 points," McCourty said. "But it happens. You just have to stay in the moment ... We have to get better, and I think it's all the little things we do this week in practice. We can't let one loss slip us up."