Whether it's a shootout with the Bills, a special teams spectacle against the Dolphins, a hardnosed comeback against the Ravens or a hang-on-for-dear-life heart-stopper against the Chargers, the Patriots have found a bevy of ways to come out on top during their four-game winning streak.
The style points haven?t always been there, particularly not during Sunday's 23-20 victory in San Diego, but beauty is for art museums and fashion shows. In 2010, the Patriots have simply been able to find ways to get it done, and these character-building wins have been very reminiscent to those of the 2003 season.
Prior to the 2010 season, just like in 2003, there were plenty of questions surrounding the Patriots — and some still remain unanswered — but as the calendar has moved toward the end of October, there's no doubt the Pats are making progress and growing together as a team.
In a lot of ways, these grind-it-out wins are more impressive because they've forced the Patriots to show their mettle. And at the end of the day, the young players will learn more about themselves, and it shows them they're able to pull through in a number of different adverse situations.
Have the Patriots gotten lucky? Absolutely. The Chargers had some epically bad turnovers and penalties Sunday, and Kris Brown is one of the least-clutch kickers in the league these days. But it takes a bit of luck to win games during every week of every season.
Just look at the defending-champion Saints, who lost Sunday to a third-string quarterback — who plays for the Browns, no less. And the Ravens, who preached motivation and the pending pounding they were about to lay on Buffalo, but Baltimore had to erase a 14-point deficit on their home turf to beat the winless Bills. And then the Steelers, who got hooked up by a very controversial call late that helped them beat the Dolphins.
Fact is, it's taken some wild and wacky stuff for a lot of teams to pull out some wins this season, and through seven weeks, the Patriots are tied with the Steelers and Jets for the best record in the NFL.
Two months from now, the Patriots' late-October record won't mean a heck of a lot. Yet, how they achieved those victories will carry plenty of meaning.