We've heard this phrase a lot in the last two weeks, along with several other cliches. "They made more plays." "We didn't execute." "Didn't do it when it counted." "Forget the refs, the Patriots could've won it on their own." On the Planet, I saw members longing for the days when the Patriots did, apparently, execute when it counted. Here's the thing with this kind of overwrought thinking. There are several things that fans overlook when making such sweeping, broad statements. 1: No team ever has 100% execution. Ever. 2: The other team is made up of paid professionals whose job it is to prevent your team from executing. 3: The randomness factor that comes in having a 60 minute sample size, ranging from luck to officiating. Last night, specifically, we could be referring to officiating. I'm sure Greg Bedard will get unnaturally excited telling us how the offense couldn't run the 4-minute offense this week. Other pundits will be quick to tell us how this defense couldn't get off the field just like last year. But here's the thing. They still did enough to win. A lot less has changed then people want to think. The fact is, and it's a no-brainer, is putting up a W makes people forget a lot of things. A lot of mistakes, and a lot of failure in execution. Look back to the SB years. Did those teams execute 100% of the time? Did they execute when it mattered? Look at SB36, 38, 39. You see the offense fail in 4-minute type situations in each game, handing the ball back to the Rams & Eagles, and throwing a pick in the endzone against Carolina. You see the defense fail to get off the field and yield long scoring drives in the fourth quarter of each game, in some instances, twice (Rams, Panthers). You see a kicker miss two FGs he is normally automatic from (vs. Panthers). You see a fumble in the red zone from our QB (vs Eagles). And I'm sure, if you went back and re-watched the game, you'd see a dozen poorly executed plays on both sides of the ball that we'd have been bemoaning for weeks and months had the game ended differently. You see these things because no team is perfect in its execution, every team, win or lose, makes a pile of mistakes, and when two teams of comparable talent get together, "luck" (or rather, randomness) can come into play. We can sit here and hand-wring all week over the chance the offense had to put them away, or Arrington slipping, or McCourty's mistakes. But we'd be looking at those plays in a vacuum, and it would be a huge waste of time. The bottom line - and its embarrassing to the NFL - is that the New England Patriots defense had to play against a team with 5 downs last night. I'm not accusing the officials of bias, mind you, purely incompetence. It's impossible to evaluate the defense's play when on at least three occasions it got off the field and was put back on by an egregious call. And in all three cases, the Ravens offense put up a score. These were completely game-changing calls that radically changed the make-up of the game. The Patriots played fine last night. Most times, that kind of execution gets you a win. Last night, it didn't. Mistakes happen, plays don't get executed, corners get beat, corners drop picks, linemen miss blocks. It happens every single game, win or lose, and it's a waste of time to lose sleep over them this week: because they weren't the reason they lost. They just weren't. They were just the same mistakes that happen to every team, every game, win or lose.