McDaniels wants Patriots to improve against Vikings

New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, removes his helmet after failing to pick up a first down against the Miami Dolphins late in the fourth quarter Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. . Miami beat New England 33-20. (AP Photo/Naples Daily News, Corey Perrine

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels knows the Patriots’ offense needs a better performance against Minnesota than it showed against Miami.

After taking a 20-10 halftime lead, the Patriots wilted in the Florida heat and lost 33-20.

“There was certainly an element in the second half that we’d love to stay away from,” McDaniels said during a conference call Tuesday. “We’re not looking to go into any game and throw the ball 50-plus times.

“We’ve gotta do a better job, in general — coaching, playing, managing the game and putting ourselves in better position than what we did offensively in the second half because we didn’t do anything to help ourselves.”

Tom Brady finished 29-for-56 passing, with Shane Vareen leading an anemic 89-yard running game with 34 yards.

Brady was sacked four times and had a key fumble. On WEEI radio on Monday, Brady blamed himself for a lot of what happened.

“I think Tom did some good things, and whenever you don’t play a full 60 minutes in the league against any team, especially a good one on the road, it usually means there’s a lot of responsibility to be shared for why it didn’t go the right way,” McDaniels said. “All of us can do a better job, starting with me.

“We gotta do a good job of playing the game the right way and having control of the game, which we did for a good stretch at the beginning of the game, in the first half, and then certainly in the second half we didn’t.”

Last Sunday, the Vikings had five sacks, two interceptions, six forced punts and allowed just six points at St. Louis in a 34-6 rout.

OK, that’s the Rams and this is the Patriots. But McDaniels knows what to expect from former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, now in his first year as a head coach.

“He’s a really good defensive football coach, and obviously he’s on his way to being a really good head coach,” McDaniels said. “He always does a great job of having his group prepared.

“They don’t make a lot of mistakes, which I think is a hallmark of any good defense. They don’t give up a lot of big plays. They apply pressure to the passer. It’s not an easy group to run the ball against, in terms of the front seven and at times eight with Harrison Smith down there.”

One positive for the Patriots last week was the return of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught four passes, one for a touchdown, for 40 yards in his first game back after knee surgery.

“It was good to have Rob out there,” McDaniels said. “I think he did some things that certainly helped us and probably some things that he hadn’t done in game action in a little while.

“Just a lot of things to build on, hopefully for Rob, in a limited number of snaps. I thought he tried to do his job out there the best that he could. ”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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