COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — You would think New England Patriots fans and media would know better by now than to judge the team by how they play early in the season.
The 2017 Patriots began the year 2-2, and it was as if the sky was falling. This is nothing new. The 2014 Patriots also started 2-2 and then went on a 13-2 run, including playoffs, to win the Super Bowl. The 2016 Patriots began the season 7-2 and never lost another game.
This year’s team also is 7-2, and chasing a sixth Super Bowl ring, after ripping off five straight wins. Safety Devin McCourty, who was wearing sandals that said “we want six,” is hoping the team can continue to play well late like the last two Super Bowl championship teams did.
“It would probably be terrible if I said yeah (they will) then we go on a five-game losing streak, and then I can see the headline, ‘McCourty was wrong.’ So, no, I think we understand how this season starts to pick up,” McCourty said. “Each game means more. We understand seven wins doesn’t mean anything. We have to continue to get better.
“I think why we usually end up improving is because it’s the understanding of there’s no tomorrow. We have to now not just improve but play good football if we think we’re going to win games, because no team is really where they’re at in September. We were talking about improving, ‘this is bad, that’s bad.’ There’s always going to be some things bad but for a lot of teams now, a lot is good.”
The Patriots are practicing in Colorado Springs at the United States Air Force Academy after beating the Broncos 41-16 in Denver. They’ll fly straight from Colorado to Mexico City, where they play the Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon. The constant between Denver, Colorado Springs and Mexico City? Altitude.
According to McCourty, air is no excuse if the Patriots can’t continue their recent tear.
“If you’ve ever seen me and (former Patriots linebacker Jerod) Mayo, you say altitude doesn’t matter,” McCourty said. “So, I’ve been the same. Lungs don’t care about altitude.”
Other players on the Patriots have said differently, but the week spent in Colorado certainly should get them acclimated before landing in Mexico City, which is 7,200 feet above sea level.