The Patriots are almost impossible to figure out.
On a snowy, blustery day when they weren't supposed to succeed in the passing game, they bucked the trend that normally hampers strong aerial attacks and shredded Tennessee's secondary in a 59-0 rout Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Tom Brady, who struggled in the second half of last week's loss to Denver, completed 29 of 34 passes and threw six touchdowns against the winless Titans, earning him a well-deserved break in the second half.
Strangely enough, the Patriots have looked far worse in more favorable conditions, yet Sunday's game proved this team can still play its best when the snow is falling and the weather is frightful.
"Some days out there when it's snowy like that, it's actually an advantage for the offense," Brady said. "(Sunday) was one of those days because we had good footing, and it's just fun to be a part of it.
"I was saying, when you see the weather forecast on Thursday, you're kind of (angry), and then once the day of the game comes around, everyone is excited because you're out there and you're like, 'This is football. This is how it should be.'"
This, in turn, is what the Patriots offense is supposed to look like -- or at least how the pundits drew it up when Brady returned to the lineup after missing all of 2007 with a knee injury.
Some say it's unrealistic to expect the Patriots to revert to their 2007 form when they rewrote the NFL record books, but a game like Sunday serves as a reminder that they can still dial it up when they need to.
"I just think the execution was better," Brady said. "We've had guys open, and it's the quarterback's job to throw the ball accurately and get the ball to the guys who are open. We did a better job of that (Sunday) all around. The pass protection was great.
"That's a very good front seven that they have, and the offensive line kept them out of there. Guys were getting open in the secondary. Randy (Moss) -- any time he has three touchdowns, you know that's a great game. Wes (Welker) had another great game, as he always does. It was just a better all-around effort. I think that's what we need."
So, can this serve as a springboard for future success? The Patriots hope Sunday was a building block as they continue to move forward in what has already proven to be a competitive AFC East division.
"I think it was good for all of us, I really do," Brady said. "It was a great week of practice for us. I think every week we're learning something more about ourselves and what we need to do. There's no doubt a game like this can really give you a lot of confidence, and we're a confident -- we've always been a confident team."
--The biggest surprise from Sunday's game came before the opening kickoff when linebacker Adalius Thomas was announced as a healthy scratch.
Thomas' play has been sporadic this season, and Sunday's absence has fueled speculation that he might be dealt at the trading deadline.
"I don't know. It was one game," coach Bill Belichick said. "We'll evaluate this coming week against Tampa like we always do. This week is different than last week. I think he's a good football player. He's versatile. He's made some big plays for us. We have a lot of confidence in him. If that wasn't the case, he wouldn't be here."
--Speaking of players on the trading block, the Ravens might be interested in Patriots wide receiver Joey Galloway, according to various reports.
The Patriots probably wouldn't think twice about dealing Galloway, who has been a major disappointment in his first season in New England.
Galloway signed a $1.75 million deal with the Patriots during the offseason, but he has only seven catches for 67 yards and no touchdowns.
--Defensive coordinator Dean Pees was thrilled with Sunday's shutout and particularly happy with safeties Brandon McGowan and Brandon Meriweather, who made their presence felt from the start.
"Yeah, they're flying around and they're playing hard just like the rest of the guys are," Pees said. "The thing we have to do a better job of is missed tackles. They're costly. They made some great tackles. They made some great plays. I don't want to in any way, shape or form, slow them down from playing hard and aggressive -- and we won't -- but at the same time, there's a time to make the big hit and there's a time just to make a tackle.
"We have to make sure we make that tackle and that ball doesn't get out. We talked about it a couple weeks ago on my conference call about the fact that we haven't given up big plays. I was talking about the passing game, but it's true of the running game, too. We just can't give those up. They'll come back to haunt you sooner or later."
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