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Patriots remain optimistic following loss to Steelers: 'We have fighters'

Ryan Hannable
December 17, 2018 - 11:06 am

PITTSBURGH -- Sunday was a good indication of how the 2018 season has gone for the Patriots.

They did some things well, but in the end it was their own doing that led them to fall to the Steelers, 17-10 on the road. It was their fifth loss of the year, all away from Gillette Stadium, the most they have had since 2009.

“Obviously, we’re just not playing good enough on the road," safety Duron Harmon said. "That is what it comes down to. Playing good football, doing your best to take the crowd out of it. We just have to play better. We have to find ways to be better and when that happens — eventually we’ll be going on the road again, so we’ll make sure we’re better.”

At 9-5 on the year, the Patriots are currently in line for the No. 3 seed in the AFC, but could slide up to the No. 2 seed and earn a first-round bye if the Texans lose once more and the Patriots beat the Bills and Jets. Regardless, the Patriots will likely need to go on the road during the playoffs and by then they will need to play a lot better than they have.

Harmon believes the group has what it takes to figure it out.

“It’s always going to be hard," he said of winning on the road. "Just for whatever reason, the ball isn’t kind of bouncing our way, but you can’t sit here and sulk about it. The only thing you can do is find ways to win and that is the type of people we have on our team. We have fighters. We have people who are mentally tough. If there’s any group of guys who are going to figure it out, I know it’s [this] group. This group that I go to work each and every day with, grind with. We’ll figure it out. It’s a tough one to swallow right now.”

For as bad as things have gone at times this year, overall the team still isn't in a horrible spot, especially considering there is no real dominant team in the AFC.

“I think that’s what makes this fun — the drive, the push, the work that you put in to try to achieve something great,” special teams captain Matthew Slater said. “We’ve been really blessed to be in a good position, and we’re still in a good position. We just have to stick together and figure this thing out.”

New England closes out the year with home games against the Bills and Jets and all it needs is one win to clinch a 10th straight AFC East division title.

Related: Julian Edelman, frustrated following loss, acknowledges Patriots offense let defense down