In most professional sports leagues, and specifically the NFL, a term is often thrown around as follows: “A win is a win.” However, contrary to popular belief, that’s not all a win can be. Today’s 29-26 over time victory over the New York Jets can be filed under any or all of these categories: Scary. Alarming. Sobering. While any kind of win is better than a loss, this marks the second straight week that the Patriots have blown a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter against a team that many people viewed as inferior entering the weekend. It also marks the fourth time this season that Tom Brady and the Patriots offense has been unable to sustain a game-ending drive with their four minute offense late in the fourth quarter. The other three times this occurred can be seen in the loss column.
Now, I understand that some people are going to take the stance that a win is a win and that’s all that truly matters, and I agree. Partially. This win told as as much as any loss could have. The reality is, the Patriots won this game because the Jets defense is filled with 3rd team scrubs and because Mark Sanchez is a dope who doesn’t belong on any NFL roster. This defense is as porous as it gets in the NFL. The play calling is questionable, and you can’t trust the offense to step on the throat of their opponent in the closing minutes of a game. It happened in the Super Bowl, and it’s carried over to this season. The farther we get into the fall, the more it seems like this team began the year VASTLY overrated. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe this is just a part of this team’s identity. Maybe this team can be like the Giants and flip a switch if they’re lucky enough to make the playoffs. But is it possible that we believed Tom Terrific and the greatness of this offense could make up for the defensive ineptitude shown by this team for the last few years? Were we false in believing that if we did?
The Pats face the Rams in London next week, followed by home games against the Bills, whom they slaughtered in Buffalo earlier this year, and the Colts, equipped with super star rookie Quarterback Andrew Luck. Thanksgiving night brings with it a road trip the New Jersey and Met Life Stadium to take on the very same New York Jets that they squeaked by today. New England then makes their way down the east coast to Miami to take on the Dolphins for the first time this season. While these all appear to be easy wins on the surface, so did the game last week in Seattle. These next few weeks will tell us a lot about these Patriots. Every team remaining on the schedule is weak, save for the 49ers and the Texans. The Patriots have made a habit of making mediocre quarterbacks look elite this season. That could be the case in any of these games. That, combined with the inability of the offense to put together a few first downs late in the game, worries me. By the time the fourth quarter of the season starts, and Houston comes to town, this team will have showed us if they’re for real, or if the bar was simply set too high. After today, I’m not feeling so optimistic.