It’s taken much more than stellar quarterback play for the Patriots to amass unprecedented success over the past two decades.

New England hasn’t always boasted a vaunted defense throughout the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era, but the franchise routinely trots out defensive units that end up coming up big when the lights are at their brightest. Just take a look at the 2018 campaign, which saw the Patriots’ defense struggle mightily at times throughout the regular season only to limit the high-powered Los Angeles Rams offense to just three points in Super Bowl LIII.

The reigning champions picked up right where they left off this past Sunday night, as Ben Roethlisberger and Co. couldn’t get anything going in the Patriots’ 30-point rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium. Ray Lewis wasn’t overly surprised by New England’s defensive effort, as it manifested what’s been the norm in Foxboro for quite some time.

“This is what separates New England, the reason they have six rings now. I understand Tom Brady probably is the greatest quarterback of all time, but (it’s) the New England Patriots’ adjustments on defense,” Lewis said on the latest episode of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL.” “They don’t have the most athletic, but they have some of the greatest communicators that you will ever have on the defensive side of the ball and it’s pre-snap reads that you must be able to communicate about. If you don’t do that, then that’s the ball game.”

The 2019 Patriots, led by arguably the best secondary in all of football, are poised to feature one of the strongest defenses they’ve had in years. This is bad news for the rest of league, as Brady and the rest of New England’s offense looked equally, if not more impressive in the team’s season opener.

As such, New England very well could be in store for a handful of lopsided affairs this season. There’s a good chance we’ll see one Sunday afternoon, as the Miami Dolphins looked atrocious in Week 1.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images