Patriots' risky formula for success keeps working

Posted Nov. 22, 2010 @ 1:46 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

A win is a win, right?

Tom Brady and crew did it again Sunday, surviving for a 31-28 victory thanks to a James Sanders interception in the final minute. The Patriots head into their Thanksgiving bout with the Lions with the 31st-ranked passing defense in the league and the 30th-ranked defense overall, yet they are 8-2 and have a legitimate shot at the top seed in the playoffs.

The Patriots showed the league that their 34-14 loss to the Browns was a fluke, an aberration after a week of poor practice. Sunday's win again proved Brady's value to the team and Bill Belichick's coaching as the team continues to do just enough to get victories.

The PFW Spin

The Patriots brought a blitzing defense to Pittsburgh in their Week 10 win. The defense showed some versatility in game plans on Sunday by rarely blitzing and playing mainly nickel packages in the victory over Peyton Manning and the Colts.

The defenses they showed Manning worked as he threw three interceptions, one while the Colts looked poised to tie or take the lead in the final minute.

Brady had another efficient game, completing 19-of-25 passes for 186 yards and two TDs. He only threw two incomplete passes in the first half as he helped stake New England to a 21-14 lead.

The Patriots attacked the Colts' weak link — their run defense. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead combined for 165 yards (5.9 average) and two TDs. Woodhead had a 36-yard touchdown run.

How do the Pats keep doing it? After Sunday's win where they allowed 396 passing yards to Manning, New England sits 31st in the league in passing yards allowed per game, yet they are 8-2. This is the worst defense in the Belichick era, but they continue to do just enough to win games.

We learned Sunday that the defense is not getting better. The game plans have been working and they have been opportunistic at times, but there has been no improvement in 60 minutes of football on a given Sunday.

Brady's value is crucial this season. His offense needs to keep scoring, and they lead the league in points scored. Two fourth-quarter stalls on offense showed that, depending on the opponent, Brady can't afford three-and-outs. The first punt led to a Colts TD, and the next one almost led to losing the game.

Can these types of wins keep coming? Why not? The Patriots already have used this formula to beat the Ravens, Chargers, Steelers and Colts. Seems like it's working.