Welp, we all got to see what a "good day" looks like from this D. I love how the ESPN guys talk about how Tom Brady has all these weapons... Deion Branch, Danny Woodhead, Wes Welker, Hernandez, Gronk, BJGE... Anybody pick one of those guys in your fantasy league? Meanwhile, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, the admittedly overrated Sanchize, Shonn Green, Ladanian Tomlinson, Dustin Keller - all of whom were supposed to be terrorizing the league in general, and the Pats in particular - were utterly silenced (and of course, the network was utterly silent about the "weapons" Sanchez has.) Be that as it may, let's take a look at scoring against the Pat's D this season - Bengals - W, 38-24. First-half stomping, soft D in second half. Jets - L, 14-28. Legitimate suckage. Bills - W, 38-30. You can salvage something by saying 1 TD was a special teams fuggup and three didn't happen (field goals)... but yeah, another less than stellar performance. Miami - W, 41-14. Think they did okay here. Ravens - W, 23-20. Not an offensive powerhouse but held in check. Chargers - W, 23-20. Groundhog's Day score. Top yardage offense in league. Held in check in the stat that matters - points. Vikings - W, 28-18. Adrian Peterson. Brett Favre. 18 points. Okay Brett sucks now. But 18 doesn't get you sent to Defense jail, right? Browns - L, 14-34. You can't stop Peyton Hillis, you can only hope to contain him. Seriously, this game the D earned the rep it's presently got, which ain't good. Let-down after a pretty nice 4-game run. Steelers - W, 39-26. What can I say, 3 excellent quarters, then 4 TDs in the fourth. The now familiar 4th-quarter meltdown. (to be fair, 3 TDs on the D, 1 interception return.) Letting the foot off the gas has been responsible for a ton of points this year. Indy - W, 31-28. See above, for the most part. 2 TDs in the fourth after the big lead gets established. The rest of the game on D was good, by the standards of games against Indy, a legit elite offense even with a ding or two. Lions - W, 45-24. Started slow, went into tit-for-tat mode for three quarters, shut them down in the 4th. Not much to brag about - these are the Lions, after all. But the 4th Q issue vs. Pitt and Indy didn't reappear. Jest redux - W, 45-3. I don't think it needs elaboration. You could make the point that you can't mount the simulated respectable score with Sanchize in this situation as easily as with Manning. A lot of panic-help from the Jest, but that says more about them than this D. Here's my takeaway from this history - early on, this D sucked. Throughout the season, for the most part, the team has played a lot of soft D w/big leads. Last night, it was more of a "leave no doubt" gameplan, perhaps influenced by the Steelers and Colts games. Teams score a lot of ways. These "ways" happen to every D. But the score given up when you're trying to keep the action in front of you only happens when you have the big lead, and w/the Pats' offense, that has happened a lot lately. It did not happen last night, but we don't know whether last night was an outlier or the continuation of a trend (if you count the Lions, which is a somewhat dicey proposition.) My take? Look at the games since Week 3. Cleveland is the lone game where the defense just plain got their buttocks handed to them. In 4 games the other team was limited to 20 or fewer points. The Colts and Steelers were both three quarters of "A" play and one quarter of "F". The Lions were a "C" game... and last night was an A+ effort from the opening kickoff to the end of the game. If all goes well, we have seven more games to see what trend wins out in retrospect. But I see a trend-line I like. If we can control the fourth-quarter meltdown tendency, we have only one outlier game to "explain away" since week 3... if the present trend continues. Of course we're like most teams... one injury in the secondary away from being what they say we are on defense, etc. But if the Pats stay healthy, I don't see the huge liability on D most analysts have been conveying. But of course, this could be post-asswhupping euphoria. Thoughts?