The New England Patriots were done. Twitter said so.
Ah yes, Shawna, what a time to be alive indeed. Speaking of being alive, the Patriots, who one week ago were proclaimed dead on arrival in Detroit, are alive and well. Because of course they are.
When will we learn? Every season the Patriots get off to the same terrible September starts, and a society that loves nothing more than to bring down those at the top races to call Tom Brady washed up. Then we all eat our words when the Pats inevitably break off a seemingly guaranteed-every-season 11 game winning streak en route to the AFC Championship game.
The Dolphins, and their fans, were planning a funeral. How sweet it would be for Miami to travel north to Foxboro, Massachusetts, where the Dolphins are 2-16 in the Tom Brady era, and effectively end the Patriots season and kill the dynasty. Ryan Tannehill would deliver a eulogy, Cameron Wake, Kenny Stills, Minka Fitzpatrick, and Jakeem Grant would bear the pall, and former Patriot Danny Amendola would deliver the finishing move.
The Patriots had other ideas.
New England has been here before. Whether it were in 2014 after arguably the most embarrassing defeat of Tom Brady’s career in Kansas City on Monday night. Or 2018, after arguably the most embarrassing defeat of Tom Brady’s career in Detroit on Sunday night. They always bounce back.
Sunday was no different. New England doesn’t think about funerals, and they don’t think about dynasties, either. It was simply on to Miami. Just ask Trey Flowers, who said “As far as what people say on the outside, we’ve been around here a long time. We don’t too much listen to people. We just know what we’ve got in this locker room.”
The mantra coming out of the Patriots post game press conference was what we’ve come to expect in New England. When things look bad, all the Patriots have is a job to do.
Tom Brady did his job, throwing for 274 yards, three touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions. One week after Brady called for playmakers to be more involved, James White did his job as well, collecting 112 yards from scrimmage and touchdowns both on the ground and through the air after being targeted only three times in Detroit. Running back Sony Michel, who dropped a pair of targets last week, saw himself completely removed from the passing game, but found consistency on the ground as he rushed for 112 yards and a got into the end zone. Even Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson, who have struggled to make their mark on the passing game this season, each caught passes in the end zone.
Of course the Patriot offense got going, as everyone knew would eventually happen. New acquisition Josh Gordon debuted as a Patriot, and despite only being targeted twice, added a key block that freed James White to scamper wide open along the sideline on a 10 yard touchdown reception. It’s only fair to assume that with Julian Edelman returning from suspension, and added comfortability that can only come with time and practice for Josh Gordon (and, by the way, the greatest tight end and quarterback in NFL history), the Patriot offense will be just fine.
Perhaps most impressive in Sunday’s win was the much maligned Patriot defense. The unit deserved it’s criticism, certainly, having entered Sunday’s contest allowing 406 yards per game and 26 points against the Texans, Jags, and Lions, allowed only 176 total yards and a garbage time touchdown from backup Brock Osweiler as the lone blemish on the score sheet. The Patriots were gashed by Blake Bortles and carved up by Matthew Stafford, but managed to hold the Dolphins to only 116 pass yards on 25 attempts.
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who had been beaten on multiple touchdowns in the back-to-back losses, drew praise for maintaining tight coverages all day yesterday. The front seven was also able to create pressure for the first time in two weeks, getting to the quarterback for a pair of sacks, and generating pressure consistently throughout the game. While the defense will need to perform at a high level against higher caliber offenses than the Dolphins, who have been outgained by opponents by over 400 yards this season, the unit will certainly build confidence after Sunday’s performance.
For those who were ready to announce the Death of the Dynasty, you’ll have to wait a little while longer. Tom Brady has the best October, November, and December winning percentages in NFL history (.781, .754, and .851 respectively), and it’s fairly well documented how he performs in January and February.
In fact, September has been the worst month of Brady’s career as a Patriot, where he has posted a measly .698 win percentage throughout his illustrious career. Let’s not forget a season ago, when the Patriots got off to a 2-2 start, only to win 11 of their final 12 en route to a Super Bowl appearance. Or the 2014 season, and the aforementioned infamous Kansas City game, where the Patriots also started 2-2 en route to a Super Bowl victory.
There will be no rendition of Amazing Grace on the bag pipes, there will be no eulogies, and there will be no tears for the dearly departed. The rest of the NFL may want to get their affairs in order. The New England Patriots are alive and well.