Patriots seek to improve kickoff coverage, defense late in halves as AFC title game nears

It's a bad time for the New England Patriots to be allowing long kickoff returns and giving up points late in the first and second halves.

They did both in their 41-28 playoff win over the Houston Texans. Doing it in the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday could be costly.

In Week 3, the Ravens (12-6) scored 10 points in the last five minutes of their 31-30 win over the Patriots. In Saturday's 38-35 double-overtime divisional victory over the Denver Broncos, Joe Flacco threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones with 31 seconds left in regulation.

Jones also is a threat on kickoffs, returning two for touchdowns and leading the NFL in average yardage.

Coach Bill Belichick says the Patriots (13-4) will stress those problem areas this week.


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