Let’s be brutally honest, the Patriots game on Thursday night was awful for a number of reasons. The lack of offense from both sides due to poor execution and schoolboy errors, the high number of replay reviews slowing down the pace of the game and neither team being able to take control of a game that could have been an easy win for either side if they performed to their capability are just a few reasons why that game was more of an ordeal than sitting through five minutes of Glee.
Despite the numerous, somewhat justified complaints about the game and the Patriots level of play there were still some encouraging signs to take from the game on both sides of the ball. Namely the improved play of the defense coming through in a tight spot and the fact that they are 2-0 with both wins in the divison.
New England could have played much better over the course of the first two games but as it stands they have a 100% winning rate and have done everything necessary.
Since the team underwent a major transformation in 2007, the defense took a back seat to Tom Brady as the offense took the lead. They were the ones winning games by putting up other worldly numbers and all the formerly great defense had to do was make a couple of stops when needed. It resulted in every Patriots season ending with a similar story as teams worked out the formula to defeat them. When the offense was held under 20 points in the playoffs, the defense could not step up and win the game. Every playoff loss had the Patriots scoring a similar amount of points, 14, 14, 21, 17 and 13 from a team that would have a regular season average of over 30 points per game.
The big question among fans and experts alike was when the young, rebuilt defense would finally grow up and take some of the pressure off the offense. If Tom Brady could not perform his regular heroics, could the defense step in and salvage the game. So far over the first two games, they have done just that, against the Bills they forced key turnovers and made some very important stops. Against the Jets they only had 13 points to defend and they did enough to hold the Jets out. They forced four turnovers and had four sacks of Geno Smith, but their best work was in the fourth quarter where they had three interceptions to snuff out every Jets possession with little to no offensive support. It may have been against underprepared rookies but you can only beat what is in front of you and the defense has been largely responsible for the team being 2-0 so far.
When all the fans have to complain about is the fact that the team are not winning by enough points, you know the team is doing ok in the most important statistic. They could have blown out the Bills and Jets by 30 points but they did not because of a combination of factors from both themselves and the opposition. All they did was win the games in front of them and they are on top of the division standings right now, a place they hope to hold onto all season long.