I think the 3 Super Bowls, the 21 game win streak in 2003-04, and the near perfect season of 2007 have spoiled us in New England. The Patriots are 6-3 and have a 2 game lead in their division. But if you didn't know they beat the Bills 37-31 Sunday, you'd think fans and media in this town were reacting to a loss.
I can't believe of all people, I am the one advocating for optimism here. The Pats have problems but so does every other NFL team. Is Matt Schaub an elite QB for Houston? The Giants lost to the Bengals. The Falcons lost to the Saints. The 49ers tied the lowly Rams. What NFL team is significantly or even marginally better than the Patriots?
What does irk me about this team is the lack of "door-closing" plays by the offense. The Pats have the highest scoring offense in football. My problem with them isn't what they do or don't do, it's when they do or don't do it.
A perfect example was in the 4th quarter yesterday when Devin McCourty forced Fred Jackson to fumble. The Patriots offense then went 3 and out, including a Wes Welker drop, and punted. They took 19 seconds off the clock.
It was only their 8th 3 and out of the season, and their only 3 and out of the game. But it came at a time when they had an opportunity to at least run out the clock a bit, move the ball close to midfield, and force Buffalo to drive more than the 45 yards they had to on their next possession.
Another missed opportunity to seal victory came when the Patriots drove into the Red Zone and settled for a field goal. Stevan Ridley's false start was the keynote of that drive's end.
The Patriots defense isn't good. The pass rush is inconsistent, some of the most talented players are also young and inexperienced, and the secondary is Swiss cheese. As bad as they are though, Devin McCourty made more big plays in the 4th quarter than Wes Welker did.
The offense has the talent, they have the capability of ending games. They don't need to score 40 or 50 points to cover for an atrocious offense. They do need to take advantage of opportunities to clinch victory.
And maybe we all need to take a step back and adjust our perspective on this team. Let's enjoy their successes instead of criticizing every imperfection in those successes. Let's hope for perfection, but accept imperfect success.