By Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff

This must be New England: where else would following a 10-3 team get depressing?

Dropped passes, airheaded penalties and a consistent lack of defense led to a 34-27 shootout in Washington – not exactly the late-season salve Patriots fans sought against a 4-9 team.

New England returns to the road this weekend, heading to Denver to face quarterback Tim Tebow and His Tebowites. Somehow, the man who started the season unable to throw a football into a kiddie pool is 7-1 as a starter, with each comeback win jockeying for its own mini-documentary on ESPN. He has shown significant improvement of late.

Some thoughts for the week…

If You Want You Can Look And You Will Find Me, Tom After Tom: So quarterback Tom Brady throws for 357 Yards and three touchdowns, and of course all we’re interested in is his verbal confrontation on the sideline.

Is the pressure of having to be perfect getting to Our Tom? Could be. But maybe he just felt stupid throwing an interception. In any case, it seems like he needs to relax a bit back there – it’s as if he trusts his receivers less and less, which affects him throughout the game.

That pressure won’t subside this week facing Denver’s defense. Tebow’s not the only Bronco working miracles every Sunday.

Tiquan Underthrown: According to his combine stats, receiver Tiquan Underwood can leap over 41 inches high. Seems unfortunate that the Patriots QB lofted a pass to him that the defender could get to in the end zone.

Sorry. Moving on. Don’t get defensive.

Speaking of which…

Vince Wilfork Over Some Money For A Fine: Hey Vince Wilfork, just a thought… if the running back has fallen to the ground, you should probably not hammer him with a forearm and earn a 15-yard penalty. You’re a veteran. Your younger, less-experienced, less-talented teammates look up to you. Keep that in mind.

Devinstatingly Dumb: Speaking of questionable conduct, why on Earth would Devin McCourty commit a pass interference penalty on third and 18? Of all the plays he decides to act aggressively, that’s the one? Next time, let the guy make the catch (for about a 10-yard gain), make the tackle, and force the punt on fourth and long.

Leading 14-3 with 4:30 left in the first quarter, the Pats had a real chance to do some damage if they’d gotten the ball back there. Instead, first down Redskins, an ensuing TD, and a dogfight.

Will this team ever pull it all together for 60 minutes? Hard to say.

On the positive side…

Not To Sound Like A Broken Record, But: Versus Indianapolis, gargantuan playmaker Rob Gronkowski thought he had the record for tight end touchdowns in a single season, but the final TD was deemed a run (Brady’s pass was a lateral). Gronk – or is it The Gronk? – made up for that twice this past week, catching six passes for 160 yards and two TDs.

For the season, Gronkowski has 71 catches for 1,088 yards and 15 touchdown receptions. We’re no defensive coordinators, but we’re pretty sure the Broncos are taking a good, long look at that.

When Wes Is More: Seven pass receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown would be a good game for anyone. For Wes Welker, it’s merely average. The man has 100 receptions for 1,339 yards and nine TDs with three games left. For comparison, number two receiver Deion Branch has 48 for 665 and four. In other words, just under half of each.

The Patriots have some weapons, but they’ll need a near-perfect game to take on the Tebow (He is offense, He is defense, He is special teams). Tough thing for the Pats is, that’s the type of game they haven’t played in weeks.

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