Originally posted on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 11/14/11

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have won quite a lot of games for the New England Patriots together, a NFL Super Bowl era-record 117, in fact.  And needless to say, many of those victories have been pretty impressive in magnitude.  That will happen when you win three Super Bowls in four appearances.

Yet that’s why it’s so unlikely—and perhaps fitting—that the latest Belichick-Brady victory ranks right up there with all the rest in terms of importance.  The Patriots were reeling heading into their Sunday night showdown with the New York Jets.  New England was on the verge of losing three straight, while the Jets were flying high courtesy of a three-game winning streak.

All Belichick, Brady and company did was save their season in impressive fashion by grounding the Jets into submission with an easy 37-16 win in the Meadowlands.  When you consider the circumstances surrounding the win, you’ll realize just how special this victory was for the Pats, who have now reclaimed first place in the AFC East.

New England’s defense limped into New York.  They were ranked dead last in total defense and pass defense in the league. 

And to boot, the Pats were quite depleted on that side of the ball, playing without the services of many players, including safety Patrick Chung, linebacker Brandon Spikes and cornerback Devin McCourty for much of the game.  Nevertheless, Belichick was able to coach up a depleted unit quite well.

It helps that castoff defensive end Andre Carter had a career game, compiling 4.5 sacks and pressuring Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez all night long.  And on offense, Brady returned to his untouchable Bradyesque form.

While Darrelle Revis was neutralizing Wes Welker, Brady simply adjusted and carved up an overwhelmed Jets secondary by hitting his new favorite target in tight end Rob Gronkowski to the tune of eight catches, 113 yards and two touchdowns.

It’s so funny how the NFL landscape changes so violently on a weekly basis.  Just last week, I basically stopped short of virtually declaring the Jets winners of the AFC East. 

Now, the Patriots are in the driver’s seat yet again in the division.  They have a one-game lead over the Jets with a huge tiebreaker in their corner after sweeping Gang Green.

And Buffalo has come crashing down to earth after consecutive blowout losses to the aforementioned Jets and Cowboys.  Plus, the Patriots now statistically have the league’s easiest schedule from here on out.

That tidbit, coupled with how impressively they responded in the face of adversity, tells me that the Patriots are about to once again put their yearly stranglehold on the AFC East.  And, in case anyone forgot, Belichick and Brady just reminded the football masses that they have plenty of magic left in their remarkable relationship.  In a career of many wins, the Jets victory was a pretty magical one in particular.

Quick slants

If your starting quarterback only completes two passes, it’s pretty tough to win a high school game, never mind a NFL one.  But evidently not if your quarterback is Tim Tebow.

Obviously, Tebow needs to dramatically improve on his two-completion performance against Kansas City.  Still, even at the professional level, Tebow is proving that he simply wins more games than he loses.  That’s something Kyle Orton can’t say in his Bronco career…

In a potential NFC playoff preview, the 49ers continued their unbelievable season by downing the Giants in a 27-20 thriller in San Francisco.  If I’m a Giants fan, I’m happy knowing that Eli Manning’s chemistry with receivers Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Jake Ballard will continue to grow.  If I’m a ‘Niners fan, I’m happy knowing I have the best linebacker in the game in Patrick Willis playing for my team.  Either way, the game was great to watch, and I would love to see a playoff rematch in January…

Sorry, Baltimore, but if you want to be considered a serious playoff contender, you’ll need to play more consistent football and get excited to play someone not named the Pittsburgh Steelers.  For as impressive as the Ravens looked in sweeping the Steelers, they have looked that bad in losses to the underwhelming trio of the Titans, Jaguars and Seahawks…

I don’t have a problem with Atlanta Head Coach Mike Smith’s decision of having his Falcons offense go for it deep in its own end in overtime.  I do have a problem with the play call, however. 

Everyone in the Georgia Dome knew the Falcons were likely to pound 250-pound running back Michael Turner on a fourth-and-inches play—and the Falcons obliged.  Why didn’t they try play action or have quarterback Matt Ryan rollout on a naked bootleg?  That’s how you take advantage of an over-aggressive Saints defense in that situation…

Don’t look now, but the Bears have won four straight and are poised to steal a NFC wild card spot from the Detroit Lions, a team Chicago easily handled this past Sunday.  If anything, the Bears have proven they still have a defense to be reckoned with.  And, oh yeah, don’t kick it to Devin Hester!...

It looks like CJ2K is back.  After a much-maligned start to the season, Chris Johnson is beginning to heat up for the Tennessee Titans.  Johnson has played well the past two weeks, culminating in 130 rushing yards against the Panthers.  If anything, I’m happy that Johnson—for now—appears eager to prove that he isn’t all about the money.  And if that’s true, don’t be shocked if a motivated Johnson singlehandedly carries the Titans to an unfathomable playoff spot…

Meanwhile, with the negative attention off of Johnson, it looks like Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the latest star accused of mailing it in after getting paid.  Fitzpatrick’s game has tanked since signing his massive contract extension two weeks ago.

He threw three picks in Buffalo’s demolishing loss at the hands of the Cowboys.  If he doesn’t rebound quickly, then the Bills will continue to sink like a stone.

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