By Michael Hurley , CBS Boston
FOXBORO (CBS) — The New England Patriots have played four games in their home stadium in the 2021 season. They've lost them all.
This is indeed a strange new world.
In losing their first four home games of the season, they have now accomplished an ignominious feat that no Patriots team has done since 1993. It was Drew Bledsoe's rookie year 23 years ago when the Patriots — fresh off a 2-14 season that netted them the No. 1 pick — lost their first four games at Foxboro Stadium.
Since Gillette Stadium went up in 2002, nothing like this has ever happened. The Patriots went 125-27 at home in the regular season from 2002-20. Their worst year was a 4-4 season in 2002. They had seven 8-0 seasons at home, plus three 7-1 seasons and four 6-2 seasons. They averaged 6.7 wins at home from 2003-20. More recently, they went 48-8 at home from 2013-19, the final six seasons of Tom Brady.
In totality, from the dawn of the Bill Belichick era in 2000 through last season, the Patriots went 134-34 at home — a .798 winning percentage.
And now, after managing to go 5-3 at home in their otherwise dismal 2020 campaign with Cam Newton, the Patriots are now 2-4 on the season, and 0-4 at Gillette Stadium with new quarterback Mac Jones.
The place that used to haunt opponents and force them into making horrific mistake after horrific mistake is now just another building.
Devin McCourty — who's been with New England since 2010, with Patriots teams that have gone 74-11 at home — spoke to this new phenomenon after Sunday's 35-29 overtime loss to Dallas.
"It is what it is. I say it all the time — everything in the past has nothing to do with this year. I don't think anybody thinks about the '04 team and says, 'Man, it was tough in '04, and we gotta go there now in '21.' It just is what it is. We're the 2021 Patriots who haven't won at home. The past doesn't matter. What those guys did in the past won't help us."
To be fair, it's not as if the Patriots are failing to compete in these games. In Week 1, they almost assuredly would've beaten Miami if not for Damien Harris' red zone fumble in the final minutes. The Week 3 loss to the Saints was a one-possession game until the final three minutes. The much-ballyhooed Week 4 loss to Brady and the Bucs ended with a missed field goal that would have won the game. And Sunday's loss to Dallas came in overtime, after the Patriots fought to take a late lead just after falling behind themselves.
So, they're competing. But they're not winning.
If a tough luck loss happens once, it can be written off. When those losses become the norm, it's an indication of something much larger.
Of course, some wins will come. The 1-4 Jets, who already have one blowout loss to the Patriots in their recent history, will visit Foxboro next weekend. The Jaguars, who earned their first win of the season Sunday in London, visit for the home finale in Week 17. Visits from the Bills, Titans, and Browns will, however, be quite the challenge. (That '93 team finished 2-6 at home, so the low bar has been set.)
Obviously, if a few plays went the Patriots' way, then they could just as easily be 3-1 or perhaps even 4-0 at home this year. But football works in absolutes and final scores. And through six weeks of the season, the Patriots are what they are.
For the first time in forever, that means they're nothing special at home.
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