Case in point, they've erased three-possession deficits in consecutive games simply by waking up. Of course, starting the game asleep isn't much of a recipe for success, but the Patriots' ability to recover and then torch an opponent in seemingly one motion makes them a legitimate threat in the playoffs.
The Patriots erased a 21-point crater Sunday to beat the Bills 49-21, and once they got rolling, it only took them about a quarter and a half to turn a three-touchdown deficit into a seven-point lead. A week ago, the Patriots erased a 17-point hole in just 13 minutes against the Dolphins.
The slow starts haven't been woven together by one thread, but Sunday's first quarter was mixed with some uncharacteristically conservative play on offense and a fundamental lack of execution on defense. But once the Patriots dug their heels into the gas pedal, the Bills had no chance to catch up.
"I think we're very hard to stop," said tight end Aaron Hernandez, who had seven receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown. "I wouldn't say [we're] unstoppable because we've been stopped, but I feel like when we're clicking and all our receivers and tight ends are playing how they can play, I feel like nobody can stop us."
It's due to a mixture of individual talent and team achievement. The Patriots scored 513 points this season (32.1 points per game), which ranked third in the NFL behind the Packers and Saints, and was also the third most in team history behind the 2007 and 2010 campaigns.
Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 5,235 yards, which eclipsed Dan Marino's 27-year-old record but fell shy of Drew Brees' historic mark this season. Rob Gronkowski set a pair of single-season tight end records with 18 touchdowns and 1,327 receiving yards. And wide receiver Wes Welker led the NFL in receptions for the third time in the last five seasons.
The Patriots have so many weapons and pose so many matchup problems that they can be downright impossible to stop when Brady has a chance to open it up and get into a rhythm. It's the reason why Sunday's 21-point deficit appeared more like a minor hurdle than anything that could be confused with an insurmountable impasse.
"I feel like we're confident when we're clicking," Gronkowski said. "[When] everyone is playing well, everyone is doing their own job and if everyone is clicking together, you don't know what can happen. It's good to have that."
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