But the more they thought about it that night, the more they seemed to crave a nice tranquil blowout. At that point, they won the character builders and the measuring-stick games, and they learned plenty about their mental toughness.
Part of them wondered aloud if they could just steamroll a team to reduce their stress level to, you know, keep them living longer.
Now, with two-plus blowouts in a row — including the second half of that game in Detroit — the Patriots are feeling pretty good about the way they're playing.
"You always love a blowout," Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez said. "It's definitely good. It's relaxing, and it just makes you feel good about how much work you put in because we put in all this work. Having close games to the end feels good coming out with a victory. But also putting all that work and actually seeing it show on the field, and you can see it showing, how hard we've been working, it just feels good."
Like Hernadez said, the Patriots learn plenty about themselves during a close win, but a blowout validates how hard they worked during the previous six days. All of the practice, film study and time in the meeting rooms pays off in serious fashion when they put a beating on a team at the end of that week.
In another way, tight end Alge Crumpler, who is one of the Patriots' captains, was proud of how hard they had to work to prepare for the unknown of the Bears. It was a different type of preparation than they had for the Steelers, Colts and Jets, who are very familiar opponents.
"We didn’t know Chicago too well," Crumpler said. "We had to get into the film room and grind it out every single day to try to learn an opponent that we don’t get to play often."
The Patriots have outscored their last two opponents, the Jets and Bears, 81-10. And during a stretch of 129 minutes, 16 seconds from the third quarter in Week 12 until the fourth quarter of Week 14, the Patriots outscored the Lions, Jets and Bears by a margin of 109-3.
To think, the Patriots' average margin of victory was 10.1 points in their first eight wins, and it's been 30.7 points in their last three victories.
And through 11 weeks this season, the Patriots had a plus-47 point differential, which was ranked 11th in the NFL. Now, with three consecutive blowouts under their belt, their plus-139 point differential is ranked first in the league.
"Any win is good," Patriots cornerback Darius Butler said. "Obviously, blowout wins feel a little better, but any win is good in this league. So we're looking forward to working for another one this week."
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