The New England Patriots are still undefeated. They just keep rolling along and taking out the next victim, like some crazed cyborg on a seek-and-destroy mission. Maybe Tom Brady is half man and half machine. But how long can the Patriots keep up the pace? The injuries are starting to pile up. Can the Patriots manufacture a repeat of their 2007 season?
That undefeated season of eight years ago was magical. There were three times the Patriots looked like the dream of perfection would end. A four-point win over the Colts secured 9-0. There was another scare when the Ravens challenged the mark. The Patriots won that battle 27-24, improving to 12-0.
Another regular season obstacle was Philadelphia. The Giants were the biggest thorn in the side of the Patriots. They outlasted New York 38-35 at Giants Stadium. But Super Bowl XLII was sweet revenge for the Giants. They slipped by Brady and Co. 17-14. The dream season ended and the quest has remained a challenge to every NFL team entering each new season.
During that magical season, the Patriots were a powerhouse. With the exception of the aforementioned four games, New England bowled over the competition. Each game was just a matter of playing the first half and then cruising to victory. They were also relatively injury free.
But 2015 is afoot and the Patriots (10-0) are chasing history again. But the realities of life in the NFL are beginning to settle in with the Patriots. The injuries are hitting key players and then the replacement player is going down. The Patriots are a deep team – put together by an evil genius – but there’s only so much that can be accomplished with the starters going down like flies.
“I don’t think that’s an excuse,” Brady stated about the injuries. “I think we can play better, and I think some of the things that we didn’t do well have nothing to do with missing some other guys.
“We’ve just got to do things better if we want to score more points, and I always talk about just execution, us all being on the same page. And I think there were a lot of plays out there where we didn’t necessarily do our job very well, and if you don’t do it well then no one else can really make up for what you’re trying to do.”
Amendola joins running back Dion Lewis (torn anterior cruciate ligament, out for season) and left tackle Nate Solder (torn biceps, out for season) as significant injuries on offense.
The Bills also effectively shut down tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is largely considered the biggest matchup nightmare in the league. He finished the game with just two catches for 37 yards on seven targets. Because of New England’s missing pieces, the Bills were able to devote a safety to shade over Gronkowski for most of the game, limiting his effectiveness.
Brady may be confident about the Patriots’ ability to keep winning, but the blue print has been drawn up. Coach Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels are going to have to be very creative to keep the New England powerhouse perfect. They’ll have to overcome the injury bug for a repeat of 2007.
[Feature Photo by Jim Rogash / Getty Images]