FOXBOROUGH — The New England Patriots have one major mission before their bye week. Go to London and bring back a win.
That would be a fine souvenir of the first half of the season and, they hope, a momentum booster for a team that has been inconsistent on offense and generous on defense.
“It would feel really good for that two-week stretch,” quarterback Tom Brady said on Wednesday.
The Patriots leave on a red-eye flight Thursday night for Sunday’s game with the St. Louis Rams after squeaking by the New York Jets 29-26 in overtime after losing to the Seattle Seahawks 24-23 when they squandered a 23-10 lead in the fourth quarter.
A win would give the Patriots a 5-3 record and undisputed possession of first place in the AFC East, the same record they had midway through last season when they finished at 13-3 and lost the Super Bowl 21-17 on a last-minute touchdown by the New York Giants.
The Patriots historically have improved over the second half of the season, especially the last two seasons when they went 16-0. That should give them confidence once they return from the bye.
“It does,” wide receiver Deion Branch said. “We wish we’d have played a lot better the first half. We don’t want to go out and go 4-4 and then try to win the last eight games.”
Brady would love to see the Patriots string some wins together. Their only winning streak this season lasted just two games.
“Part of the mental toughness is putting what happened (behind) and moving forward to next week without wasting any time or energy spent thinking about last week,” he said. “That’s how you string wins together. That’s why you don’t win one, lose one, win one, lose one, because at the end of the day, you’re mediocre and you’re watching all the good teams play.