Only twice in the past ten seasons have the New England Patriots failed to capture the AFC East Division title. However, I don't think that there's ever been a season where winning the division has felt so good. For months, Patriots fans have heard how the Jets were Super Bowl contenders and how control of the division was about to change hands. Well, after everyone had talked their talk, it was the Patriots who continued to walk the walk, their 34-3 thrashing of the Bills standing in stark contrast to the barn burner that the Jets ultimately lost at Soldier Field.
The funny thing is, the Patriots could have dropped this game AND next week's game in Miami and still had the AFC East and home field throughout the playoffs locked up. But even when they don't need to win, that internal hunger that drives this team continues to push them towards excellence. That's why you see Tom Brady screaming about a dropped pass when his team is up by 28 points and he's just shattered all kinds of NFL records. That's why you have defensive players hitting hard and scrapping for the ball, creating seven, SEVEN, turnovers. That's why Bill Belichick will probably still chew some of his players out tomorrow for getting gashed by the run on Buffalo's opening drive, or for some stupid penalties that stalled out a few offensive drives in the second half. It's a championship attitude, that will hopefully lead to more than just an AFC East Championship.
Some quick hits...
- Tom Brady thowing with some unreal accuracy. His non-interception streak is just ridiculous. However, as much as I'd like to credit Tom for this streak, and he does deserve a lot of credit, I think a lot of it has to do with the offense the Pats are running. With so many options, Brady rarely has to force a throw. He's getting great protection from his line as well. Brady is seldom in a situation where he has to make a dangerous pass.
- I'm trying to think of the last time that the Patriots recovered seven turnovers... I'm at a loss.
- There were some really hard hits by the Pats today. It reminds me a lot of the 2003 team, where the Pats when smash mouth in the playoffs and destroyed the Colts. If they keep hitting like this, there's going to be a lot of scared opposing receivers come playoff time.
- Wes Welker probably had the worst game I've seen him play in a Patriots uniform. Today was a good day for him to have a case of the dropsies. Hopefully it's out of his system.
- Big Rob Gronk has been on a tear since his nightmare of a game in Cleveland. I think he's stolen the title belt from Aaron Hernandez as the better of the two rookie tight ends.
- BenDanny Green-Head is giving Corey Dillon a serious run for his money as the most dominant Patriots back in my 17 seasons of fanhood.
- The Patriots have lost exactly one home playoff game in the entire Brady/Belichick era. It was last year without Welker and with a locker room full of poison. Stats don't mean a whole lot, compared to what actually happens on the field, but I like the Pats' chances to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl now that home field has been wrapped up.