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Mike Lombardi calls out Patriots, say they lack mental toughness

Ryan Hannable
December 19, 2018 - 10:25 am

The Patriots are currently 9-5, the most losses they have had in a season since 2009, and their 3-5 road record is also their worst since 2009.

Speaking on the GM Street podcast, former Patriots executive Mike Lombardi called out the team, comparing it to that 2009 team and also saying it lacks mental toughness.

“The penalties hurt," Lombardi said of the loss in Pittsburgh. "They got behind in the down and distance count, which was critical. They weren’t able to do that. [Tom] Brady missed some throws. Brady made a really bad decision on the interception. That is un-Brady like. The pressure broke down and they have to find a way to fight through it and they have to find a way to get better. I think the problems are going to mount themselves when they go on the road. Look, they will play well against Buffalo, they will play well against the Jets. They will be 11-5, but if they are the third seed and they have to play Baltimore. That will be a hard game for them because Baltimore as the sixth seed will be able to spread them out horizontally and force them to defend the width of the field and the length of the field. That will be a problem for their defense and Baltimore typically will play good against the Patriots.

“Look, I think the Patriots are a work in progress. This Patriot team reminds me of the 2009 team, the year they did the documentary on ‘A Football Life’ and Bill [Belichick] was on the sideline talking to Brady saying, ‘I just can’t get us to play tough.’ I think there is an element of that here. There is an element to this team that doesn’t have mental toughness. When I say mental toughness it is the ability to focus and concentrate when you’re under pressure. When you have 14 penalties in a game — going into the week the Patriots were the only ninth-most penalized team in the NFL, they were in the top 10, but 53 of their 89 penalties occur on the road. It shows up more on the road than it does at home and I think that is really the issue. That leads me back to their mental toughness issue. I think everybody has to step their game up. I think that is pretty clear.”

If the Patriots win out and Houston drops one more game, the Patriots will move back up to the No. 2 seed, but if that doesn't happen the Patriots will be playing on wild card weekend.

Related: Hannable: Patriots need to change running back usage, get more touches for James White