I am sick of hearing people whine about how losing teams hand victory to the Patriots. They whined when the Pats beat the Raiders in the snow bowl, and against the Rams, and the Colts and the Steelers and... you get the picture. These excuses can hardly obscure what has been the predominant phenomenon of the NFL in recent years, the sheer excellence of the New England Patriots. Luck is the result of hard work. Winning once against a better team may be just luck. Twice may be simple coincidence. But we're talking about a team of mostly "no-name" players that has pulled off how many huge wins over the last six seasons of football? How many supposedly superior opponents must they beat before the nay-sayers wise up and recognize that there's something very, very special about these Patriots? I don't remember the Pats ever being the best team on paper, at least since Bill Belichick took over as head coach. Never, not even during their record-setting streak of consecutive victories. Other teams always had better athletes and flashier stats. And even in winning, the Patriots rarely blow out tough opponents. Instead, they gut-out victories in close, hard-fought games that test character as much as skills. Invariably, this is where the Patriots continue to prove their greatness. It was here that Bill Belichick clearly out-coached Marty Schottenheimer, but it happened long before Sunday's game against San Diego appeared on the schedule. Though rightly acknowledged for impeccable scouting, innovative scheming and total player preparation, Belichick's real contribution is in fielding the best men, while other franchises settle for the best athletes. This surely indicates his true understanding of the game, his genius as a coach, and his courage to buck the conventional wisdom that dominates the rest of the NFL. Don't tell me the interception/fumble was luck. Troy Brown was smarter and better prepared than McCree.