Something happened on the way to the coronation last week. Instead of beating another inferior opponent by 40+ points, the undefeated Patriots struggled to beat the Eagles by just 3 points. But they did win, in the process improving to 11-0.
One week later New England prepares for their third straight primetime match-up, this time on Monday night, on the road against the Ravens. They look to become just the sixth team in NFL history to start the season 12-0.
While Coach Belichick and the team turned the page quickly to focus on their next opponent, everyone else was buzzing about the close call against Philadelphia. Here are the top 10 quotes of the week, heading into Week 13, Monday Night Football, Patriots-Ravens:
10. "The feeling's not bittersweet, it's just bitter. To come up short like that, personally I take it on my back."
~ Eagles quarterback A.J. Feeley
Translation: "Man, I always play well against the Patriots. I wish I could start against them all the time! Actually, I wish I could start all the time. Man, we should have won this game."
9. "I thought [A.J. Feeley] did a heck of a job. I know he had those picks, but he came back after the first one to rally the troops and he stayed aggressive. He got the ball out fast and made some plays."
~ Eagles head coach Andy Reid
Translation: "[Sigh] One bad pass. He doesn't throw that last interception and we might have beaten the unbeatable Patriots. At least we didn't have McNabb out there, though. We probably would have gotten killed."
8. "I think guys done got spoiled. This is the NFL. It's the NFL. It's been a very weird season where the fans and the people that are going against us, the bettors, are like we should expect a blowout every time, but that's not how the NFL works now, and those guys came out and played a great game. They have a good team over there, man. I'm just glad we won."
~ Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs
Translation: "You all wondered if we'd have a letdown. Well, that was our letdown. But we won. Now we need to go back to blowing teams out."
7. "They have good players, they have good coaches and they had a couple of schemes that we had trouble with. There were plenty of times when they didn't and we threw the ball pretty effectively on them. They made some plays. We made a few more than they did, but they made some plays. They made plenty of them."
~ Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, when asked how the Eagles were able to get so much pressure on Brady when most other teams haven't been able to
Translation: "Hey, they had a great game plan and executed well. But let's remember that we scored 24 points on offense and only punted twice the entire game. You guys overreact to everything. First we're the greatest team ever then we have problems because we didn't blow out the Eagles. You guys need to relax. Maybe switch to decaf."
6. "I have never, ever felt he has taken plays off. Are you kidding me? There is nothing there about Randy's game that I'm not 100 percent positive on."
~ Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, when asked about ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski's comments that Randy Moss took plays off during last week's win over the Eagles
Translation: "I am so angry about this. Not because I'm sure that Randy doesn't take plays off. But because this might upset him. Leave him alone! He's playing so well! I can't have him upset. I need him to be focused. Leave Randy alone!"
5. "Would I like to see us score touchdowns when we have the ball? Yeah. That's what I'd like to see. That's what the offense is out there for, is to score touchdowns, to score points. That's the only reason they go on the field. To score points."
~ Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, when if he would like to see more balance on offense
Translation: "We had one designed run in the first half last week and we scored 17 points and didn't punt. I could care less about balance. That field goal could have been a touchdown, but whether or not we run more makes no difference to me. Score. Win. Period."
4. "He wants to adopt Ed Reed….It's going to be Ed Belichick."
~ Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, when asked about how Bill Belichick likes Ravens' safety Ed Reed
Translation: "It's kind of annoying. I mean I don't mind when he fawns over Randy Moss or Adalius Thomas, I mean those guys are family too. But a guy on another team? I mean, come on. It's like being a parent and telling your kids how great the neighbor's kids are."
3. "Whatever my role is, whatever the coaches ask me to do, it's the same as it was in the past. Whatever I've been asked to do, I've been ready to step up and do it."
~ Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown, who was activated this week
Translation: "Bingo! I got Bingo!"
2. "It's exciting. It's exactly what this team needs. Obviously, this year hasn't been what we'd hoped it would be for a lot of different reasons and to play what is, not even arguably, the best team in the league I've seen in a long time is just a challenge that our players need to take on what is the best team in the league and see how we can fare."
~ Ravens head coach Brian Billick, when asked about the challenge of facing the Patriots on Monday Night Football
Translation: "How the heck are we on Monday Night Football? Isn't this what the flex scheduling is supposed to take care of? Have you seen us play? We have no chance against this undefeated team! We should be playing at midnight when no one's watching."
1. "The goal is to win. That's what we approach every week as and, whether you win by 30 or you win by three, you're trying to win the game. Everyone was happy we won this last game and it's really going to be a challenge for us to get to 12-0."
~ Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
Translation: "As Herm Edwards said: You play. To win. The game. And we play to win by as many points as we possibly can. No more of that win by 3 stuff. We're going for the blowout again."
Was last week the close call that the Patriots needed to keep them focused the rest of the way? We'll find out over the course of the next two games. If they are 13-0 two weeks from now, the question will then be do they go all out for the undefeated season? But, as Belichick preaches: One game at a time.
Darren is a regular contributor to Patriots Insider. You can find him in the forums under the name: DestinationSuperBowl. You can also find archives of his columns on the Insiders by searching for "Darren Kelly"