Pats fans have been blessed by several SuperBowl winning teams and a cast of excellent players and smart coaching this decade. Yet, since the 2004 season the NE Patriots have come up short time and again when the game and the season was on the line. What are some of the key features of the trophy machine pre-2005 squads ? 1. A large core of playmakers on defense. How many games were either won or late game leads preserved against comeback drives by key, clutch plays by a core of players? Law, Bruschi, Harrison, OTIS, Vrable. Victories snatched from defeat as opponents' ending drives were stifled by a D playmaker. You never knew which one would step forward but you knew that one of them would get it done. 2. A group of unspectacular but reliable playmakers on offense. Brady has been the constant but the trophy seasons featured key 3rd down conversions by Faulk, Troy Brown, David (1st down on 3rd down) Givens and yes, by the excerable Twig. These unspectacular players were not weekly ESPN highlight roll feature players but they were always reliable in extending a drive when it absolutely had to be extended. They made their appearance known when it really counted. 3. A go to ground game. Antowain Smith wasn't much but he did give us a ground game that got 2-3 yds when it absolutely HAD to get done. Time after time, the Pats also were able to piss away the clock on long ground based though unspectacular drives. Those two different aspects of the run game were key to holding back the enemy. All this before the 2004 Dillon SB team. 4. Experienced coordinators who made the right calls at the right time. Even the SB winning teams had coordinators who had their constant detractors and like all humans they made mistakes, but when the right call had to be made, it got made. 5. Special Teams that made a difference. Whether it was a Troy Brown punt return, a kick return for a TD or STs causing a fumble, the SB years were replete with big ST contributions that put points on the board enabling an unspectular offense to outscore the opponents. 6. Good fortune. Fans forget that several bounces of the ball and fortuitous events occured during those seasons at key times. Remember the 'unconscious' reception vs the Bills? As can be seen during the post 2005 painfull big loses, games often pivot on a key play where good fortune favors the opponent. It's amazing in retrospect to see all the different but essential ingredients combined in the trophy winning machine. I like the youth movement in the 2009 Pats D, but the jury is out on whether the crew contains big game playmakers, difference makers who alter the outcome.