Week 6: You would think we’d have learned by now

Two weeks ago the talk surrounding the Patriots was rather dramatic. Some were suggesting that the decade and a half of dominance was finished, after the team suffered a 41-14 belting at the hands of the Chiefs.

The three games before that had done little to inspire confidence, as the offense looked disjointed and the defense had been incredibly inconsistent. Contrary to fan hopes, the Patriots had been slow to come out of the gate and the 16-0 dreams were over (since those were the only reasonable expectations from the fans).

Perhaps the simplest explanation for the massive fan overreaction to the slow start was that the team has set such a high bar over the last several years. It was very rare to see Bill Belichick and Tom Brady looking deflated and stumped the way they had on the sideline in Kansas City.

Aside from 2005 against Kansas City, 2009 against New Orleans and the last two AFC Championship Games, the team has usually found a way to answer the bell and at least seem to be competitive.

AFC East rivals Buffalo, New York and Miami smelled blood in the water and were thinking this was the year that the dynasty would be toppled. Perhaps even more disturbing were the more dramatic Patriot fans suggesting it was time for the team to undergo a complete overhaul from the coach down.

Clearly those claims were made in the heat of the moment and not with a whole lot of thought behind them. Mostly because if history has taught us anything, it’s that this team will more often than not, find a way to succeed.

A primetime game hosting Cincinnati was just the remedy for what had been ailing the Patriots. They came out with a point to prove and while they were not perfect, they did just what was needed to bring the fans back off the ledge.

After being on the receiving end of several big hits in the first month, Tom Brady looked comfortable behind a settled offensive line. Their best weapon Rob Gronkowski is getting more and more comfortable as he continues to return from ACL surgery. Defensively, Darrelle Revis followed AJ Green around and looked like the Revis of old. Revis gave up a few catches but definitely won the battle on the day.

This weekend the Pats traveled to Buffalo, a place where they have struggled in recent years, to face a motivated Bills team with first place in the division on the line. After an even first half, Brady and the offense responded to losing Stevan Ridley to a torn ACL and MCL by throwing all over the Bills secondary, spreading the ball around and standing up to a fearsome pass rush.

While the Patriots team is still not rivalling the 2003, 2004, 2007 or 2010 teams which romped through the regular season, they are certainly looking much more comfortable. Fans are not used to seeing this team struggle (at least since the turn of the millennium) so they are well within their rights to be shocked by what unfolded in Kansas City.

But anyone questioning the makeup of this team should know better. After all, those who fail to learn from history will be doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

About James Caughlin

Growing up in Brisbane Australia, James got into the NFL during the 2000 season thanks to the Madden NFL video game. His cousins told him to use the Patriots (as a prank on him) but 3 Super Bowls and multiple winning season’s later, he has had the last laugh. Now you will hear him yelling at the TV around 4am on a Monday morning watching every Patriots game live.

Comments

  1. Steve Baker says:

    I’m always happy for people to write the Pats off in Fall. Gives me better odds for New England to make the Conference Final.

    As a Cowboys fan, I’m all too aware of the folly of playing your best football too early in the season. I’d be pretty comfortable at Foxborough right about now.

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