Mixed reactions to a tough loss

Patriots' fighting spirit softens blow and fosters hope for the playoffs

Updated: December 18, 2012, 2:29 PM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

This week's Patriots mailbag is filled with mixed emotions.

The silver-lining crowd has been well accounted for. As disappointing as the Patriots' loss to the 49ers was on Sunday night, the spirited second-half charge had many citing the team's resolve as a reason to believe there are better things ahead.

But as is the case with any loss, it has sparked some concern from others. Big plays given up by the defense, another fumble by running back Stevan Ridley and cornerback ...

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