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No, this is not a misleading headline. But it does come with some disagreement from some readers (this means you, the one sitting at your computer reading this message) and that is expected. I mean, fan of the Patriots or not. You do have all the reason to complain, but I'm going to give you a few good reasons not to.

Starting with the ugly, the Patriots offense only obtained 232 total yards on offense and punted the ball away 11 times.

Yes, this isn't a normal thing Patriot fans are used to seeing. But should we all go in a panic? I mean in 2011 the Patriots last Super Bowl run, the Patriots only put up 17 points against the Steelers in a hard fought game. Brady? 198 yards and 2 touchdowns. The offense? 213 yards. And this was with Gronkowski, Welker, Hernandez and Deion Branch.

One time thing?

Think again, that very next week, after a horrid offensive performance on the road. The Patriots came home, only to put up a 0-0 halftime score. One interception, missed field goal, and four punts to show for entering the locker room. While Brady played well in the second half, the Patriots took all the way until the fourth quarter to get a touchdown. Two games in which the Patriots struggled to get something really going on offense, both of which resulting in losses. And this was with better receivers, a worse defense, lack of a running game, and during their Super Bowl run.

Aside from that, let's also state a few circumstances here:

1. Thompkins, Dobson, Edelman and Develin. Those are the four players who caught at least one pass from Brady last game. The best draft rank for those four is the second round, Aaron Dobson. Average experience in the league? 1.5 seasons, with Develin and Thompkins going not getting drafted, and Edelman going in the 7th round. This group of players is young, inexperienced, and have been thrown into a situation and EXPECTED to succeed.

Let that sink in.

2. Mark Sanchez last season almost put the Pats below .500 for the second time that season. The Patriots were behind the Jets in total offense, Brady was at 259 yards, and the Patriots blew a 13-23 lead in the fourth quarter before a Tom Brady led drive took them into field goal range and eventually winning it in overtime.

Also worth noting, the Patriots lost to the Jets twice in 2010, they lost to them 16-9 in 2009, and if you want to not count the Cassel era, the Patriots 2007 season (we all remember that) the Patriots eked out a win against the Jets to improve to 14-0. Brady threw for 140 yards and even threw a pick, with no touchdowns.

What I'm trying to say here is that the Patriots seemingly always play down to the Jets at least once per year (as they do with the Bills also, except its more of a slug-fest instead of a brawl).

3. It's not like in either game the Patriots were out of control. The only time you can really say otherwise is when the Bills grabbed momentum and came back. The Patriots always kept the game within reach, even when it seemed impossible.

Let's not forget, the Patriots played a near perfect game outside of the offensive woes against the Jets. No turnovers (especially in the rain), one sack, created four turnovers, and got to the QB plenty of times.

Against the Bills, two of the turnovers weren't really ideal turnovers but nonetheless won't appear any different in the stat line. Brady's interception that was off of Sudfeld's hands and into the Bills, and Ridley tripping over his own feet before losing the ball.

Self inflected? Yes. A problem? No.

Why? It was week one, no one is perfect week one. Mistakes happen, it happened. No big deal. The whole point, the Patriots always kept the game within reach no mattered how bleak it looked. This is something that all great teams do.

Now, I've given you all the numbers and such. But let's do one last thing. Ready?

I'm going to give you the following and you tell me if the Patriots won or lost that game.

Total offense and turnover differential.

Game 1: 495 yards, -2
Game 2: 457 yards, +1
Game 3: 622 yards, 0
Game 4: 394 yards, -2
Game 5: 179 yards, +4
Game 6: 475 yards, 0
Game 7: 520 yards, -2

In all of those games, the Patriots lost three of them. But which three? It's kind of hard isn't it?

Would it surprise you if game 5 was a loss? It isn't. Chargers-Patriots 2010, Pats won. That means that of the six left, five of which have more than 450 yards of offense. The Patriots lost.

Does game 1 look familiar? Remember Bills-Patriots? 2011, the game which the Patriots blew a big lead? Patriots-Bills 2011, Pats lost. Did the turnovers give it away?

If it did, game 4 should be a loss. It surely wasn't. Ravens-Patriots 2010, Patriots win.

Dying to figure out the two other losses in the bunch. Games 6 and 7, Seahawks and 49ers (in that order) last season. Games 1, 6, and 7 are losses. The others are wins.

While I've done my best to make you a believer, I'll leave it at this. Every team battles adversity.

The Ravens did it last year with tons of offensive line and defensive injury problems before winning the title.

The Giants defense hit the injury bug very hard before the season started before winning the title in 2012. The Packers lost Rodgers late in the season and barely clinched the 6th seed, all before winning it in 2011.

No team is perfect throughout the season, this year is no different. And it's better to deal with the problems now and still win, rather than in the first round of the playoffs and face an early elimination. Something fans of the 14-2 Pats team and 15-1 Packers team know all too well.

Truth be told, we're fine, Patriot fans.

Eric Anderson 9/14/2013 08:00:00 AM Edit
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