The Pats have gone out and humbled two good sophomore quarterbacks in consecutive weeks. Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco played decent games.
But they were humbled.
Even the New York Jets victory over the Patriots seemed a bit off. The whole game looked like New York was waiting for New England to win it the whole time; all the Jets could do was keep blitzing and pray that Tom Brady would not find his stride.
And he's getting closer.
When Brady was knocked out at the beginning of last season there was a scramble to rearrange the AFC hierarchy. By the time New England regenerated itself, Miami had just squeaked by them in the East.
But there was a sense of waiting. A sense that the league had been given a brief respite from Brady, Belichick, and the Ark of the Covenant they keep stored under Foxborough (TOP...MEN).
Thanks to the glory that is cable TV, I was subjected to three weeks of Pats football. I'm not complaining, but I'm scared. New England is quickly re-establishing itself as THE PATRIOTS, as opposed to the Patriots, who played last year under Matt Cassel.
I'll spare you the resume. But the rest of the NFL knows who's been the team to beat this decade (hint: It rhymes with schmatriots and it's the Patriots).
And if you think there's not some black magic in the air than you haven't been paying attention; or are the one conjuring it, and in that case, have mercy on me and my heathen ways.
The powdered newt was present on that Monday night when Leodis Mckelvin decided that taking a knee was the loser's way out. Turns out that taking the kick out of the endzone was the same thing.
Then the New York Jets with their newfangled defense and new head coach decided to step to the Pats. And then...
BLACK MAG-oh. Wait, New England lost?
Well let's take a good look at it.
New England had 18 first downs, New York had 14. The Pats had 299 total yards, the Jets 254. Tom Brady threw an interception, but the Jets lost a fumble. New England converted 33 percent of their third downs, the Jets converted 27 percent. The only reason the Pats could have lost was...
See, it works both ways.
We'll come back to this game because I feel like there's still something left to be explored. More like, BLACK MAGI-plored. No? Just explored? Fine.
Then young pup Matt Ryan and his Atlanta Falcons strolled into Foxborough and were sent packing. The Patriots muscled out a victory, and the scary part was that Tom Brady was disappointed in his throwing. He did miss a few open receivers and the Pats had to settle for field goals. And they still won by two scores.
The Falcons were borderline contenders (or pretenders), but they still had a very competent and skilled young quarterback. They also had a dynamic running back and a new tight end who was red zone dynamite. Well, something blew that game...
And then yesterday Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, and the always uber-competitive Ravens, strolled into Gillette Stadium and were forced to eat crow (get it?).
The argument can be made about the officiating, but let's ignore it because it's been hammered to death by people smarter than me. But when Mark Clayton takes a perfect ball off the chest, then something is amiss. It must be...
Geoff's Brain: Geoff that's not funny, you should probably stop saying it.
Geoff: But they're evil Brain, EVIL!
Geoff's Brain: Ugh, fine, say it. But you have to read a book to me later.
I'll make my point quickly and depart.
The New England Patriots reputation has preceded them this season. We just don't know it yet.
Tom Brady is still recuperating from his knee injury. Can you blame him? The guy's reliving that hit every time he drops back. It's like my dream where I'm always falling...great, now I won't sleep tonight.
But Brady is slowly regaining his form, and in the meantime the rest of the NFL is cowering and praying that Matt Cassel just dreamed that he left for Kansas City.
There's a word that can describe how teams are playing the Patriots right now: Hesitant.
They're expecting the 2007 Patriots to show up, and in the process they're losing winnable games.
Which brings me back to the New York Jets win against New England. The Jets' first five drives against the Pats went: Punt, fumble, punt, punt, field goal. Then the half ended and the Jets later returned to the field; most likely after Rex Ryan tore them a new one. They then proceeded to beat the Patriots.
Because they realized they could? Or because they realized they should? Or did they chop some wood? I feel like maybe I just misunderstood.
And you think that didn't happen to the Ravens offense this weekend? Fumble, touchdown, punt, punt, interception (first five drives again). They were shook.
If teams want to beat New England (and they should, right?) they need to go out there and smack them in the mouth. You have to act, instead of just reacting to what Patriots decide to show up. The Pats' aura of invincibility was smashed off David Tyree's helmet.
...either that or Gillette Stadium is haunted.
Feel like doing stuff? Go to The Chirp Show, it's the sports equivalent of Tolstoy's War and Peace. Except it's not about war, peace, or Russian people.