On Sunday the New England Patriots put together their most complete performance of the 2012 season. The usually suspect defense came through with an impressive game and the Patriots finished off the St. Louis Rams late, a feat they have struggled to achieve multiple times this season. As the Patriots head into their bye week it seems that the time off may have come at the wrong point of the season.
A team’s bye week can come at a good time or a bad time for a team. Sometimes a team becomes so beat up that the off week gives them time to recover and gain some health for the remainder of the season. Other times the bye week steals away recently gained and much needed momentum. For the Patriots, this bye week might do the latter.
The Patriots went into this season expected to roll through the regular season on their way to a second straight AFC championship. But things haven’t gone as smoothly as anticipated. The defense has struggled at times as expected but the offense surprisingly has too. Their inability to put teams away in the fourth quarter is something unseen with Tom Brady as quarterback.
After starting the season an unremarkable 1-2, the Patriots won two straight to get back on track. But those weren’t so impressive either. After coming back in the second half to beat the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots nearly floundered in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos. Luckily they held on and got away with a second straight victory.
After blowing another fourth quarter lead before beating the New York Jets in overtime, the Patriots put together a very impressive performance in the dismantling of the St. Louis Rams Sunday. Other than a 50-yard touchdown by Chris Givens, the Patriots defense held the Rams offense which is something they had been unable to do for much of this season. Another very positive sign was that Brady and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski both played to their potential for the first time this season.
Probably the most important event in this game was in the fourth quarter when the Patriots scored a touchdown. While touchdowns are not unusual for the offense that leads the league in yards and points, it’s only the second game in which the Patriots have scored a fourth quarter touchdown. The other game was in the 31-point fourth quarter the Patriots put up in Buffalo in week four.
After sneaking away with the victory over the rival Jets to take the advantage in the division and putting together such an impressive performance in London, it seems like the Patriots would like to step on the field as soon as possible to take advantage of this new momentum. But due to the game being the annual London showcase, the Patriots will head into their bye week instead.
Of course, this bye week may not affect the Patriots at all. The next four games are very winnable leading into a Monday night showdown against the Houston Texans in week fourteen. But with the momentum built up by an emotional win over New York and such an impressive performance against St. Louis, it looks as though the ship is finally headed in the right direction for the Patriots. And one thing that could steer it off-course again could be a week off.
Typically bye weeks will have a significant impact on a football team. If at a crucial time, the bye week can have a good or bad impact on the team. With their recent play, this is a crucial time for the Patriots as they attempt to take control of the AFC East. Patriots’ fans will be hoping the current momentum won’t be crushed by the time off.