|photo via foxnews.com|
September wasn’t all kind to the Pats last season. And that’s putting it lightly.
Three uninspiring weeks of football culminated in the annihilation at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football, a 41-14 obliteration that dropped New England’s record to 2-2 on the season, but also served as the fuse that lit the powder keg across the nation: the Patriots were finally finished.
In arguably the worst regular season loss ever in Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach, the Patriots were steamrolled by a KC team that smelled blood in the water right from kick off. They were faster to the ball, they hit harder, they played harder, and they kicked the Pats to the dirt before the visitors even knew what hit them.
KC outgained the Pats in total yards 443 to 290. They held a 17-0 lead at halftime and in the third quarter it was 27-zip. New England didn’t get on the board until 3:26 of the third, when the embattled Tom Brady hooked up with Brandon LaFell on a 44-yard TD to make the score 27-7 Kansas City.
In the fourth, Belichick sat Brady in favor of the rook, Jimmy Garoppolo, and by then, the damage was done, many said permanently. Headlines coming out of the game declared the Brady/Belichick Era dead and buried. Brady was washed up, a product of a 37-year-old QB simply not having the skill or ability he once had before.
The week that followed proved to be a tumultuous maelstrom of fans, media talking heads and football analysts all giving their two-cents on where the Pats stood in the grand scheme of things. Anger, disappointment and distress ravaged the five-and-a-half New England states. Yet the team, and the fans, had no time to waste: the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals were coming to town.
The build up to that game on Sunday Night Football was something unlike anything we’ve seen in the Brady/Belichick era. It was 10,000 gallons of every emotion under the surface of the sun bottled up and tossed into the air, ready to explode in brilliant fashion. We didn’t know what to expect from our team, but really, we should’ve known better.
The Patriots came out with their hair on fire and smashed the Bengals square in the teeth on the game’s opening drive. Brady led a 10-play, 80-yard march down the field that took only 4:57 to complete. The Pats broke out the hurry-up, and after every play, players dressed in navy blue were throwing fist pumps, dishing extra shoves to the hapless Bengals and releasing bursts of emotion before lining up for the next play. The crowd was going ballistic. They were ravenous. They wanted seven points.
Down at the goal line, TB12 took it himself twice, once for a conversion on a 4th-and-1 and again on the next play, looking to pound the rock for the score himself. In the end, it was Steven Ridley who found the breakthrough and blew the roof off the place, releasing the pressure valve and unloading the massive build-up that nearly burst pipes across New England.
The Pats never looked back, not on the game and not on their season. They plastered Cincy by a 43-17 final. Brady finished with 292 yards, two touchdowns and a 110.7 QB rating. The Pats as a team finished with 505 total yards and forced three turnovers.
The victory kicked off a seven-game winning streak that saw the Pats play the best football they have in years. A victory that showed the country the Patriots weren’t dead just yet.