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Patriots carried by healthy outlook

Mental toughness helps team fight through illness, injury in AFC East clincher

Updated: December 27, 2010, 12:36 AM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- When the New England Patriots took the field for pregame warm-ups Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium, their two defensive captains stayed behind in the locker room. Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo both were too sick.

The flu had ripped through parts of the Patriots' locker room during the week, sacking quarterback Tom Brady among others, and the training room had no vacancies, the result of a growing list of injured players after a prime-time, pad-crunching win over the ...

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