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Injuries dent undefeated Patriots

By The Sports Xchange
Injuries dent undefeated Patriots
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is congratulated by wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) after the two connected for Brady's 400th touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts on September 27, 2015. Photo by Matthew Healey/ UPI | License Photo

While the New England Patriots keep counting victories -- 10 and 0 in 2015 -- injuries are stacking up as a major obstacle in the team's mission to survive the regular season with a perfect record.

"I don't think that's an excuse. I think we can play better, and I think some of the things that we didn't do well have nothing to do with missing some other guys," quarterback Tom Brady said following Monday's 20-13 win in which wide receiver Danny Amendola left with a knee injury.

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"We've just got to do things better if we want to score more points, and I always talk about just execution, us all being on the same page. And I think there were a lot of plays out there where we didn't necessarily do our job very well, and if you don't do it well then no one else can really make up for what you're trying to do."

Amendola was cast as the No. 1 receiver on Monday because Julian Edelman is out with a foot injury. He might not be back until January.

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Amendola is likely to miss at least a game because of the short week, but the Patriots keep injuries shrouded in secrecy.

What isn't a secret: Brady has struggled without Edelman and running back Dion Lewis, who went on injured reserve early in November with torn knee ligaments. Left tackle Nate Solder is out for the season with torn biceps.

Brady was tagged by the Bills' multi-layered pass rush, hit 10 times and knocked down seven.

Buffalo erased tight end Rob Gronkowski -- two catches for 37 yards -- and those aren't new trends. Gronkowski already commands plenty of attention and now he's the only receiver among the Patriots' top four in catches healthy enough to take the field.

Brady was firing passes to undrafted free agent Chris Harper, who declared early for the NFL draft in January out of Cal, and will be leaning on other unfamiliar faces down the stretch. Running back James White has emerged in the third-down role where Lewis had excelled and Brandon LaFell, after dropping six passes in his first game of the season, is picking it up, too. He was one of two healthy receivers for the Patriots when Monday's game ended.

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Are opponents more than picking up on the Patriots' weaknesses?

The New York Giants got to Brady early and often in Week 10 but like the Bills, came up short in the fourth quarter of a 27-26 loss.

This week, the Patriots draw the NFL's top-ranked defense and the Denver Broncos on Sunday night.

"Whoever plays," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, "we expect them to play well."

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