The New England Patriots took a step back in their ambitions of achieving a first-round bye in the playoffs at the weekend when they defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Following a 17-10 loss to the Steelers, the Patriots sit on a 9-5 record. While they're still at the top of the AFC East, they now find themselves in the third seed in the AFC playoff picture, a game behind the Houston Texans in second.
The loss on Sunday was New England's second consecutive loss, so now they must bounce back against the Bills this weekend in order to keep their first-round bye hopes in the postseason alive.
During his weekly chat with Jim Gray of Westwood One, via Yahoo! Sports, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady admitted there were some "tough conversations" following the difficult loss against the Steelers.
Brady said: "Right now we are 9-5. It's not where we hoped we'd be. It could be better, it could be worse. It is just the reality of where we are at. We'd love to win every game, but that's not the reality of sports. I'd say we learned from yesterday. Hopefully, the guys took it to heart.
"There were some pretty tough conversations and tough coaching which is deserved by us players. Ultimately, we didn't execute enough to get the job done."
Brady and the Patriots will now have to overcome a mental hurdle in order to take a keep their first-round bye hopes alive, and they'll need the Texans to slip up in one of their final two games as well.
New England plays against the Bills this weekend, and then the New York Jets before the end of the regular season, so it would be unexpected if they don't win out the rest of the year, but not surprising when you take into account their recent form.
Brady also stated that the adversity the team currently is facing will put the team's mental toughness to the test moving forward.
"It's challenging when you have back-to-back losses," Brady said. "It's mental toughness, this is when it really shows.
"The character of the team, the character of the players, the coaches, the whole organization is tested, because when things aren't going right, obviously the natural instinct for humans is to point fingers, but everyone should point the finger at themselves and realize that we all individually need to do better so collectively we can put something out there that we're way more proud of than what we've put out the last few weeks."
Brady hasn't been his usual self on the season, as he only has 3,979 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions, leaving many to believe that this could be his final season in the NFL.