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By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by
November 03, 2008

Alan Branch mum on suspension, happy to be back: 'I love it here'

Jabaal Sheard increases workload, Jonathan Cooper appears at practice

Patriots waive Bryan Stork, ending bizarre week of transactions

Bill Belichick explains thought process behind choosing QB starter for Giants game

Source: Terrance Knighton released by Patriots

Right Now At
Great Night
The Patriots defense stepped up in a big way during New England's 19-17 win over the Panthers on Friday night.

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The parallels to 2001 just continue, don't they?

You may recall that in November of that year, the up-and-coming Patriots lost at home to the Greatest Show On Turf, the St. Louis Rams, by a score of 24-17. Despite the loss, the fact that the team could keep up with an offensive juggernaut like the Rams proved to be a boost of confidence as it defined itself on the way to victory in Super Bowl XXXVI.

In many ways, the same could be said about last Sunday night's crushing 18-15 loss to the Colts on the road in Indianapolis. The Patriots controlled the tempo of the game, dominated the line of scrimmage and got excellent, mistake-free output from their quarterback. All against a team that was desperate for a win, had the better quarterback and a considerable home-field advantage.

For sure, the sure touchdown drop by Jabar Gaffney, the boneheaded unnecessary roughness penalty from Dave Thomas late in the game, and the carlessness with which time outs were regarded was maddening. A 6-2 record was there for the taking and for the first time in long while the Patriots handed a game away to an opponent.

All that aside, what I took away from Sunday night's game against the Colts are two things.

First, the Patriots are getting better-much better actually-by the week. I would be surprised if we saw any Miami/San Diego-style stinkers the rest of the way. We are seeing a maturation of Matt Cassel in front of our eyes and a team that is playing some very competitive football. Besides Tennessee, just what team in the AFC do you think the Patriots can't play with down the stretch?

Secondly, the loss against the Colts will help focus the Patriots if history is any indication. It will let them know that they can compete under a scenario and will key them in on proving the doubters wrong.

A chip on the Patriots shoulder?

That's never served the Patriots well has it.

Look out. In defeat, the Patriots won. We are in for a fun ride the rest of the way.