New England has not looked overly dominant this year, but the Patriots showed in their statement of a victory, versus the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals, that the season is not done. The Patriots throttled the Bengals for a win in their home stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts 43-17; a game in which Tom Brady threw for 292 yards, but more importantly, the offense moved the ball up and down the field easily and the defense came to play.
The Pats have seen more adversity this season than fans have ever noticed during the Brady-Belichick era, but the New England Patriots put on a display of moxie in a seeming do-or-die game against a, then undefeated, dominant, and confident team in the Bengals. This year’s chapter in the New England Patriots’ story is not one of destiny, as the golden boy we all know and love, Tom Brady, has gotten a little bit older, and the rest of the team is a little bit younger – translating into inexperience and bad plays on the field. The magic just does not seem to be on New England’s side this year.
Some unfamiliar scenes that New England fans have had to get used to this year are an offense that has not been at the elite level, as the New England Patriots are ranked number fourteen in total offense through week 5. New England is also ranked number sixteen in total defense through week 5, so with a very average offense, New England needs to be able to stop teams from moving the ball more consistently. The Pats have caused eleven turnovers through week five, good enough for a third place ranking among NFL league leaders, but they have not always capitalized on the turnovers this season.
New England has always been a rock that fans could depend on for two things: winning and un-shakability. In this season so far, Tom Brady’s team has won three out of five games, which is respectable. The problem is that they are currently ranked alongside the Buffalo Bills (what?) for first place, and the Pats have lost games in ways that do not make sense. The game in week one against the Miami Dolphins looked as if the New England Patriots were still in pre-season mode, and the loss against the Kansas City Chiefs, a team of young, strong and fast players looking to make a statement, made the football world tilt as nobody could figure out if New England had even gone into Kansas City with a game plan.
Off the field, it has been cited that there may be a “rift” in New England as there seems to be some possible tension between Tom Brady and the coaching staff. The truth is that, while Tom Brady is a year closer to retirement, he is still as sharp and hungry as ever. The New England Patriots officers in charge of personnel simply have not placed a lot of immediate talent around Brady, and have not in the past few seasons, and eventually one can only do so much of shouldering the load. Just as it seemed the season may be lost, however, Brady lead a New England performance fans hoped for and brought home a huge win.
The New England Patriots may not be this year’s team of destiny, but they are also not dead or buried yet, and they are most certainly not done. Football has always been able to bank on the fact that Brady and the Pats will always have one last trick up their sleeves to make sure they leave their impression. Remember, when the Patriots least looked like they could possibly win a Super Bowl they made it happen, and the two guys at the head of that run, Brady and Belichick, are still around.
By LaBaron Jackson
Photo By Keith Allison