There are, in this view, two scenarios for New England that could be played before the 2017 NFL season is on the books:
1) Undeniably, the Patriots are on a roll. Seven consecutive victories are not easy. There may not be anyone on the calendar (despite the postseason or Super Bowl pairings) able to beat the Patriots. Unless …
2) The Patriots defeat themselves.
There it is, in black and white for all to see. Not that it's a big revelation, of course. When you have achieved 17 consecutive winning seasons (the second best record of all time, behind the consecutive 20 of Dallas), you are almost always in the mix at the end, with only a few exceptions.
Those exceptions include hitting yourself, before the others attack you.
We saw a bit of 1) and 2) against the Dolphins on Sunday. Let's face it, the Patriots offense, even a little careless at the moment, is firing at full speed. Now there is a ground game to accompany the arms and timeless receivers of Tom Brady who can not only "go find him", but are difficult to shoot down when they have it.
And the defense continues its current streak of keeping opponents to 17 points or less for seven consecutive weeks, tied for the longest stretch of that play in the Bill Belichick era, although the offense is directly responsible for allowing seven of those points (14 of Reshad Jones). the ball bounces in the second quarter) in the 35-17 victory over Miami.
No way does the "D" strike a blow on that.
That also takes us directly to Scenario Number Two. Hitting yourself
The turnovers (two on Sunday) and the penalties (7 for 75 yards) are largely controllable, to some extent. When attention to detail is not frequent, or the focus is not as clear as it should be, errors occur. That is not exaggeration. It is human nature.
Sometimes, those errors can be game modifiers. The return of the loose ball in the 2nd quarter was not a decisive factor against Miami, but it certainly kept the Dolphins close and committed until the end of the game after the Patriots got a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Add also to this equation the fact that New England will face these Dolphins again in two weeks, thanks to the peculiarity of the NFL schedule.
Memories should be recent enough to recall successes and failures, enough to be repeated (or remembered) on each side of the ball.
Add to this mix a traditionally tough test to play in New England in South Florida, and have scenario number two on top of a list of excuses.
Unless, of course, scenario number one occurs. A little attention to detail and focus should be enough to see this, but hey, that's why they play the games, to see how they end.
The roadmap for the end of this season begins in Buffalo. Read
A blunder that will not make you laugh
As briefly described above, the second fumble for a touchdown in Miami was one of the most atrocious errors we've seen the Patriots make this season. The center Ted Karras on his second start replacing David Andrews blew the ball to Brady on the shotgun while the quarterback was still in his way of call and play control.
Wow! And there was another center bobble to QB later in the game as well, after no visible error last week between the two in Mexico City.
The communication problems were at least part of a perceived problem with the defense through the first four weeks of the season, and at the moment, they seem to have straightened out. With changes occurring almost weekly on the offensive line and in the receiving corps, it is not difficult to see the difficulties of communication within the offense that arise from time to time.
But at this moment, it's not a good time for them. Especially when the playoff positions are hanging in the balance. Read
Hit One, Miss One
Let's put some credit in its place: the red zone offense was a perfect five-for-five touchdown against Miami. Where this offensive was fighting only a few weeks ago in the production of six instead of three (or zero) within the 20-yard line, now it seems that those deficiencies have been corrected.
But on the way, the Patriots do not seem to have discovered a way to win a garden in situations of 3 ° down and 4 ° down where only one yard is needed. This has been a theme of the entire season. Two situations of 3rd and short were converted thanks to Miami sanctions. A fourth and one on the first play of the fourth quarter was reversed.
Is the devil alone in the details, or is it in the ability to execute? Read
You make the call
"Wow, the refs were great today," said no one, ever.
There were two calls that were not just head attacks by the officiating crew led by Ron Torbert, but dangerously close to being game modifiers and possibly damaging to the players.
One arrived early in the 3rd quarter after the Patriots forced the Dolphins to punt. Danny Amendola attempted to connect Mike Haack's kick at his 28-yard line and bobbled the ball, but only after a Miami defender appeared to break his space and interfere with his ability to catch.
Lucky for the Patriots that Jonathan Jones jumped on the ball and made the recovery, saving possession (which ended with a touchdown).
In that same series (Brady completed a 15-yard TD pbad to Rob Gronkowski his 16th multiple scoring game and a franchise record), Dion Lewis tried to run in the middle and mysteriously he was dragged to the grbad by Ndamukong Suh for a 3-yard loss. For the mask. And not a single referee saw it, even though thousands of people saw it in person and on television.
How it escaped to the officials in the field, to those who are in the press box and to New York, is an unknown. But both fail in a possession? That's almost as bad as it gets. Read
Sorry coach, we are looking to the future
You are doing it. I'm doing. The media is doing it.
Tony Dungy officially started on Sunday night. Looking to the future, that is, to New England in Pittsburgh on December 17. Before the Steelers beat the Green Bay challenge on Sunday night (winning 31-28 in a last-second, 53-yard field goal by Chris Boswell) to claim their sixth straight win, Dungy of NBC, a former head coach, look, he thought unthinkable.
He asked Mike Tomlin of Pittsburgh to look forward to play against the Patriots in three weeks.
"I'm going to hug the elephant in the room, there'll be fireworks," Tomlin told Dungy about anticipating the Patriots Game in an interview that took place before the Steelers-Packers game began. "And it's probably the first part, it's going to be a great game."
While there is something very refreshing in the audition of not talking about the coaches, it was doubly worthy.
"He asked not to talk much, so he was talking to an old friend," that's how Tomlin explained his sincerity to the media after his Steelers defeated the Packers. "You know I have respect for this process, but we have a good football team, I have a lot of confidence in them."
"Everyone in the United States knows it's a great game, okay? "
Probably right, coach, but if we did not know it before, I'm sure it will.
John Rooke is an author and award-winning announcer, and he's in his 25th season as the Patriots' stadium. He plays in several media capacities, including "Patriots Playbook" on Patriots.com Radio, Rooke has broadcast local and national college football and basketball for 30 seasons and is a member of the Rhode Island Radio and Television Hall of Fame. RI Unlimited Hall of Fame.