After winning nine of their first 10 games by blowing out their opponents, the Patriots have won three of their last four by the slimmest of margins. Last week's win over the Ravens was their biggest scare of the season. But just as they did after their first 11 games, the Patriots walked off the field as winners in game 12.
The Patriots had a short week to prepare for their next opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers. But a short week doesn't mean that people had less to talk about. Au contraire. In the last week we've had an official offending one of the Ravens, talk of an NFL conspiracy to help the Patriots win, more undefeated discussions, and a guarantee by one of the Steelers that Pittsburgh will beat New England this week. It's been a busy week.
Here are the top 10 quotes of the week, heading into Week 14, Patriots-Steelers:
10. "The refs called me a boy. Number 110 called me a boy. I will be calling my agent in the morning and sending my complaint. I have a wife and three kids. Don't call me a boy."
~ Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle
Translation: "I am a man! You hear me? A man! Now gimme the phone so I can call my mommy. Waaaah!"
9. "I heard the whistle blow and I stopped. I would've made the first down if the whistle didn't blow."
~ Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, on the 4th down quarterback sneak play that was negated when the Ravens called timeout
Translation: "I am all-knowing and all-powerful. I know when the whistle will blow and when it won't. I know what to do on the football field at all times. I see you when you're sleeping and I know when you're awake. I know who's been bad and good, so be good for goodness sake."
8. "Coach Belichick doesn't coach us or raise us that way. So for us to come up and shut them up with a last-second touchdown, that's what really felt good."
~ Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss, talking about how the Ravens were talking smack during last week's game
Translation: "I don't remember my childhood. Or anything that happened in my life before this year. My life began when I joined the Patriots, and Coach Belichick raised me to be what I am today. No smack-talk. Just a player. A darn good player on a darn good team."
7. "I felt that this was the first time all year that we got bullied."
~ Patriots safety Rodney Harrison
Translation: "They came out and punched us in the mouth. Well, except for the guy that was blowing kisses at me. So I guess we got bullied and sexually harassed. Umm, I'm uncomfortable now. Can we talk about something else?"
6. "It's hard to go out there and play the Patriots and the refs at the same time. They put the crown on top of them, they want them to win."
~ Ravens cornerback Chris McAlister
Translation: "All hail the Kings of the NFL, the New England Patriots. This is a conspiracy, I tell ya. A conspiracy to make sure they go undefeated. Who's involved? It's a mystery! It's a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma!"
5. "Sixty percent say it's a catch, maybe some say it's 40. That's not conclusive enough to change the ruling that has been made. The hand never came off the ball. He maintained control."
~ NFL senior vice president of officiating Mike Pereira, on whether or not Jabar Gaffney's touchdown catch should have been overturned [HBO's Inside the NFL]
Translation: "There's no conspiracy. Look at that tape. It hasn't been doctored. Some of you think it was the wrong call but some of you think that it was right, and some of us think that it was right and some wrong. If I keep talking in circles, will I get out of answering this question?"
4. "Yeah, why not? We've got the number 1 defense. We don't expect that to change, so why not? We think we're going to win every game anyway, so yeah….Yeah, I can guarantee a win, as long as we come out and do what we've got to do."
~ Steelers safety Anthony Smith
Translation: "Am I crazy enough to guarantee that we'll knock off a 12-0 team on the road on Sunday? Yes I am. I am that crazy!"
Translation: "Blah blah blah. Some no-name Steeler is guaranteeing a win. So what? I think one of their ballboys guaranteed a win too. And the guy that washes their uniforms. Oh, and the little kid that represents the Steelers at the Punt, Pass, and Kick competition did too."
2. "Well done is always better than well said. That's been the motto of this team…I didn't know who [Anthony Smith] was until we started preparing for them…I don't know if we've ever come out and predicted victory or anything and we've won a lot of games. Whether you predict it or not, he's got to show up on Sunday and try to guard us, play his role, do his job and we've going to try and make it hard for him."
~ Patriots quarterback Tom Brady
Translation: "Anthony Smith, I'm coming for you. You hear me? As soon as I figure out who you are and what your number is, I'm throwing to your guy every time. You want a guarantee? 12 catches, 186 yards. I guarantee that's what your guy is going to have when this game's over."
1. "We can sit around and put a bunch of stuff up on a board and write stuff down on paper and all of that. I think in the end it comes down to whether you can outplay the other team on Sunday or not outplay them."
~ Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, when asked about using Anthony Smith's guarantee as bulletin board material
Translation: "Guarantees are like those ugly sweaters my aunt used to buy me at Christmas. They look like a good idea at the time, but everyone looks pretty foolish when you put the darn thing on. Less talk. More football. We'll see who's wearing the ugly sweater on Sunday."
Get all of the Christmas shopping out of the way by four o'clock. Chop down the tree and get all of the decorating done so that you can put your feet up and watch the game. The 12-0 Patriots face another tough test on the road to perfection. Don't look here for a guarantee of victory. I'm not going to be the one wearing the ugly sweater. I can guarantee one thing: No matter what happens, it's going to be entertaining. And there will be plenty to talk about next week.
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"
Official Game Thread: Patriots vs Steelers (Pats site)