Brady, Pats struggle in red zone

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- A few weeks ago when the Patriots were 7-3, quarterback Tom Brady made the point that the team was a few bad quarters away from having a better record.

His outlook was different after Sunday's let-it-slip-away 22-21 loss to the Dolphins.

Asked if he was surprised that the team was now 7-5, a disappointed Brady sounded like that's where he felt the team deserved to be.

"I think we've played pretty inconsistent," he said. "We have some good drives and then we have bad drives. Everyone is trying to put their finger on it and trying to figure it out. It's frustrating for all of us. When we go out there, we have a lot of confidence that we can get the ball in the end zone. We had some chances today inside the 10-yard line and we get no points. That's the frustrating part for all of us."

The Patriots scored one touchdown in three red zone trips Sunday against the Dolphins, which Brady said "pretty much tells the story."

"When you're down there in the red area and you don't score touchdowns you just give the other team too many opportunities," he said. "You're not going to win very often when you score 21 points. It's frustrating, but you have to fight back and go out there and do a better job next time."

In what turned out to be a crucial decision that backfired, the Patriots were stopped on fourth-and-1 from the Dolphins' 6 with two minutes left in the second quarter. The Patriots went with a three tight end set with two backs, but veteran Sammy Morris was denied as outside linebacker Joey Porter was credited with the tackle.

The other trip that ended unsuccessfully came early in the fourth quarter when Brady was intercepted trying to force a ball to receiver Randy Moss.

Moss has been quiet in recent weeks, as he was held to two catches for 66 yards Sunday. He had three for 67 yards against the Saints, and five for 34 the week before against the Jets.

"They're focusing a lot on him, and you have to get the ball to other guys," Brady said. "As the game went along they kept having guys over there so I'd go to other guys."

With four games remaining, Brady was asked how he can stay confident that the Patriots will find a way to turn it around.

"We have to find a way to play better football for 60 minutes, in all phases," he said. "Everyone needs to focus on what they can do better, that's the most important thing. We've had leads in the second half and leads in the fourth quarter and we're not closing the games out when we had the opportunity to."

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.