The New England Patriots certainly did not look like clear-cut Super Bowl contenders throughout the regular season.
The Patriots suffered back-to-back ugly road losses in Weeks 2 and 3 and later followed suit in Weeks 14 and 15. But upon the start of the playoffs, New England has looked like a brand new ball club.
The Pats made easy work of the Los Angeles Chargers in the divisional round before gutting out an impressive road victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Given how underwhelming they looked at times during the regular season, many are struggling to make sense of the Patriots’ considerably elevated play of late.
While players up and down New England’s roster likely will tell you it’s been a matter of execution, Ray Lewis offered his two cents during Tuesday’s edition of “Inside the NFL” on Showtime.
“Let me explain to you guys what gives,” Lewis said. “Why do you think Bill Belichick wears a sweater that’s not popular? He’s old school. New school — everybody that whole first part of the season (said) ‘Offense is this, this, throw this ball, throw that ball, throw this ball.’ Later the season gets, it gets more old school and more old school and more old school. This is why the New England Patriots are beating anybody in their way. They are fundamentally better-equipped. Pay attention to the mistakes, you talk about Dee Ford. You talk about the highest-scoring offense in football and they give them less than 50 total yards in the first half. Why? Because not a big name, but a bunch of guys got together fundamentally and said ‘If you do your job and I do my mine, this is what the formula looks like.'”
The case can be made that the Patriots struggled with somewhat of an identity crisis for a good chunk of the regular season. Due to a handful of moving parts and certain players battling injuries, it took longer than usual for New England to really come into its own. But Tom Brady and Co. managed to do so at the 11th hour, and now they’re on to their third straight Super Bowl.