When the Patriots stunk it up against Cleveland last week, I did my best to not blow things out of proportion. It was a bad game against a mediocre team, surrounded by the perfect storm of a "trap" game and the Browns coming off the bye. Granted, the Patriots looked awful, but even the best of teams look awful at least 1-2 times per season. There's a reason only two teams in NFL history have made it through the regular season unscathed. Instead, I chose to pin my hopes on the other other contests the Patriots had played this year, and assume that the Browns debacle was just an abberation.
Last night, the Patriots rewarded that confidence by playing the best game they have all season. Just like everything was set up perfectly for a loss last week, this time around, everything was screaming for a Patriots win. The Pats were coming off a loss. The game was at Heinz Field, where the Patriots almost always play well. The media was backing the Steelers... You couldn't write a better script for a big Patriots win!
I'm pressed for time this morning, so I'll stop with the superlatives and head on to some bullet points...
1. You have to love the fire from Tom Brady. The man has won three Super Bowls and achieved nearly everything you can in this game, but he was leading the charge last night and willing his teammates to victory. It's been five years since Brady hoisted the Lombardi, and after blowing the AFC Championship to the Colts, losing XLII, having his ACL torn, watching his locker room tear, things haven't gone so well for him during that stretch. He's hungry. Very hungry.
2. Mad props to Big Rob Gronk for boucning back from his horrific performance last week with a three TD stunner this week. It's nice to see a rookie with such a short memory.
3. Pat Chung was back in action. Was it just a conincidence that the defense appeared to return to its former intensity with him back in the lineup? He may just be the catalyst for this defense.
4. It was nice to see Logan Mankins getting riled up following Brady's TD sneak, when he felt the Steelers were taking cheap shots at his QB.
5. When Brady is able to get Branch and Welker going, the Patriots' offense is nearly impossible to stop. They got away from that combo in Cleveland.
6. And finally, maybe a giant sex scandal overshadowed things, but how does Tom Brady take weeks and weeks of crap for his hairdo, while Big Ben gets a free pass for this mess? Has a man's hair ever screamed "I'm guilty" more then Big Ben's 'do?
That's just filthy!