Has the NFL Game Finally Passed Bill Belichick By?

Justine BrownCorrespondent IINovember 7, 2011

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 6:   Bill Belichick and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots talk during a time out against the New York Giants in the fourth quarter on November 6, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Giants won 24-20. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

When the New York media asked New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick last week how long he intended to continue coaching, some perceived this as a low blow.  People felt that the implications were that the coach should consider retirement, however if anyone feels that the game has passed Coach Belichick by, they are surely mistaken.

For starters, New England's three losses this season have all come to worthy opponents.  When the Patriots suffered their first loss in Week 3, it was to a Buffalo Bills team who started their season on a hot streak, going 3-0 in their first three games.  Additionally, the loss was by just three points on a last-second field goal with quarterback Tom Brady throwing for a career-high four interceptions. Coaching was hardly the problem with penalties and turnovers costing the Patriots the game.

New England's second loss came during Week 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Although New England was coming off of a bye week, Pittsburgh came on with some momentum having won their three last games. Typically a Steeler slayer, Brady threw for a season low 198 yards in this game and the team rushed for a total of 43 yards.  Although Belichick took credit for the loss, the team collectively had a bad day.

Then there was New England's most recent loss this week to the New York Giants. Not only are the Giants 6-2 atop the NFC East, but Eli Manning is having one of the most impressive seasons of his career. The win by the Giants came after they received the ball following a Patriots touchdown making the score 17-20 in favor of New England with 1:21 remaining in the game. With the Giants facing their last opportunity, Manning managed to put together a game-winning drive, hitting Jake Ballard on a one-yard touchdown pass.

The loss snapped a few impressive streaks by the Patriots, but it is not panic time yet as there is still a lot of football left to play.  At 5-3, the Patriots, Jets and Bills are all tied up in the AFC East, with the Bills edging out the Pats with a head-to-head win.  However, New England has games left against both of these teams giving them an opportunity to control their own outcome.

Sure, Belichick and the Patriots haven't won a Super Bowl since 2004, but the only reason this can even be considered disappointing is because of how high the standard was set by Belichick himself.

Winning three Super Bowls in his first five years with the Patriots, Belichick put New England in the record books as only the second team to in history to win three Super Bowls in four years.

Furthermore, since coaching the Patriots, Belichick's only losing season came during his first year in 2000. Since then, the team has won eight AFC East championships in his 11-year tenure.

When the Patriots start consistently missing the playoffs and having losing seasons, then we can discuss the game having perhaps passed Belichick by.