There were time yesterday, where I felt like I had stumbled into some alternate universe. The Patriots were trailing 21-7 in the second half to the Bills and inching dangerously close to a 1-3 record, which would have essentially put them three games behind the Bills with tie-breakers in the race for the AFC crown. At that point, we had already witnessed a fumble by Gronkowski, a fumble by Welker, two dropped touchdowns by Gronkowski, two missed field goals by Gostkowski, and some horrible tackling that allowed a 68-yard touchdown reception. This Patriots team, which had all the potential in the world on opening day, was unraveling before our very eyes. You could chalk up the Arizona loss to the unexpected Hernandez injury and some bad luck. You could chalk up the Baltimore loss to incompetent officials. But what we saw in the first 35 minutes of yesterday's game defied excuses. It was an inexplicable barrage of failed execution. As I sat there pondering whether the curse of the Super Bowl loser existed, and if the Patriots were about to experience a Red Sox-esque collapse from within, Tom Brady juked a defender and found a streaking Danny Woodhead to put the Patriots back within seven.
I was right on the verge of saying this team has no toughness, but they battled back and showed why Brady/Belichick is the best duo in the game. Loved the way this team finished the game after it failed to do so the last two games.
After a couple of tough losses, they needed a game like this. Fall behind early, face some adversity, then come roaring back and never take the pedal off the floor. Let's hope they keep it pegged for the next four months!
@JasonT Granted, they faded down the stretch against Arizona and Baltimore, but I think the notion that has developed by some members of the media that the Patriots have lost all their clutch ability and are purely a "front running" team is garbage. Last season, they pulled out two clutch wins against Dallas and Baltimore. They had a 21 point comeback against Buffalo and a 17 point comeback against Miami as well. By comparison, they only lost four games in total in 2011, so the sample size of them "choking" is relatively small.
All four of those losses were "one-score" defeats, with them losing by 4 to the Giants twice, 3 to the Bills, and 8 (TD and 2pt conversion) to Pittsburgh. Instead of killing them for not being "clutch" and losing close games, why not credit them for going the entire season without being blown out?
No team wins them all. Let's credit the Patriots for being competitive week in and week out, and succeeding far more often than they fail.
@DeROK82 @JasonT I'm with ya there. I think playing in so many close games in 2011 (and even losing a few) played a role in New England making the Super Bowl. It showed them they were never out of a game. It built character. And after failing to execute when the chips were down in Weeks 2 and 3, the fact that they came roaring back and turned a 2-score deficit into a 24-point blowout will bode well for them later in the year. We might be looking back in a few months at the second half of this game as the turning point in another great season.
@JasonT @DeROK82 I think this team has a very 2003-esque vibe. People gave them some token credit coming into the year, and then completely jumped ship when things got a little rough early on. That team started 2-2 just like this one, and finished 15-0 en route to a title. Even if the Pats go on a massive run like that, I'm sure teams like Houston and Baltimore will still be picked to beat them come playoff time, just like everyone was riding the Colts and Titans back then. Man, we even have a potential NFC Super Bowl sleeper team like the 2003 Panthers, in the Arizona Cardinals.
Now watch the Patriots totally lay a turd on Sunday afternoon to ruin my theory and make me look like a moron.