Two weeks ago New England continued its march toward history by winning in Indianapolis and running their record to 9-0. The Patriots then enjoyed their bye week, while the Colts traveled across the country and dropped their second straight game. The focus on a potential undefeated season now switches to the Week 14 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But for Bill Belichick and the Patriots, the one-game-at-at-a-time mentality won't allow for any looking ahead. Division rival Buffalo -- winners of four straight -- are on the schedule this weekend. The game received the "flex schedule" treatment from NBC and will be played on Sunday night instead of in the afternoon. It will be the first of three straight night games for the Patriots, giving every fan, non-fan, and talking head time enough to debate the Patriots' potential place in history.
Weather appeared as if it would be a factor earlier in the week, but forecasts now call for cold but clear conditions for the match-up with the Bills. In addition to discussing the weather, the Colts game, the bye week, and a certain former Dolphins coach were all part of the conversation this past week.
Here are the top 10 quotes of the week, heading into Week 11, Patriots-Bills:
10. "It's a win on the road against a team that's undefeated…this was the first time we were really in a ballgame late, and I'm real proud of the way the guys responded when we were down. There was never really any loss of confidence or determination, and we're going to need that for the next seven games."
~ Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, on the importance of winning the Colts game
Translation: "It was really nice to beat the Colts, but let's back to blowing people out."
9. "Yeah, you don't want Peyton back on the field and that potent offense. It was a big first down for us to make sure that we kept the clock running and to not let them get the ball back."
~ Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker, on getting the last first down and keeping Peyton Manning off the field in the fourth quarter
Translation: "Wasn't there some wide-eyed guy who couldn't make that exact same catch for the Pats last year? That's why I'm here, to make those key catches, help this team win every single game, and pick up a Super Bowl ring."
8. "Well, yeah. We're down by 10 with 10 minutes to go in the game in Indianapolis and we're kneeling on the ball with two minutes to go, so in that span of less than eight minutes we score 14, they don't score any…It was probably eight minutes of as good of football as we've played all year, against a good team, on the road, who definitely had us on the ropes. I was very happy with that. There's no doubt about it. I was elated."
~ Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, when asked if he was so animated at the end of the Colts game because of how close the game was
Translation: "You've seen me walk calmly and nonchalantly onto the field after winning. That's me happy. You've seen me give one word answers in press conferences. That's me excited. Jumping up and down after that win? That's me elated."
7. "I don't think we had to tell anybody to get away. I don't think there were too many saying, 'Boy, I wish we were going to practice this week. I'm really disappointed that we're not coming in.' No, I don't think there was too much of that, but we're looking forward to this game."
~ Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, when asked if there are some players who don't want the week off
Translation: "I know Brady wanted to keep practicing, but he's insane. In a good way, of course. Everyone else was happy to have some time off. But we're all really looking forward to getting back to the fun of destroying other teams 52-7."
6. "The Spygate thing has diminished what they've accomplished…Belichick was fined $500,000, the team was fined $250,000 and they lost a first-round draft choice. That tells you the seriousness or significance of what they found. I guess you got the same thing as putting an asterisk by Barry Bonds' home run record. I guess it will be noted that the Patriots were fined and a number one draft choice was taken away during that year of accomplishment."
~ Former Dolphins head coach Don Shula [New York Daily News]
Translation: "Cheaters! Back in my day no one cheated. No one on my undefeated team would have done something like this. We were all saints, walking to practice uphill in the snow, both ways! These young whipper-snappers don't know a thing about winning every game fairly."
5. "I think that he certainly is a Hall of Fame coach. He's entitled to his opinion…We try to go out there and play hard every week. I don't think guys are going to go out there and draw [motivation] from an old retired coach, [or] an old washed-up player to pump us up."
~ Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel, when asked if Don Shula's comments might be a source for motivation [ESPN Radio, Boston]
Translation: "That old coot can say whatever he wants, but when this season's over, he'll have some company in the Undefeated Club. Asterisks? He wants to talk about asterisks? I've got your asterisk right here, Shula!"
4. "I think you always have to put the team first. That being said, really, that's bigger than all of us. But Troy is a special guy and he's done a lot to help this football team win a lot of games since I've been here and before that. That's all well-respected and pretty well-documented, but at the same time this year is this year and we'll do what's best for the team this year. And he understands that. We all do."
~ Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, when asked if it's difficult to make a decision on whether or not to add Troy Brown to the roster, given all the things Brown's done for the team over the years
Translation: "Look, I love Troy Brown like a son. On offense, defense, he's one of the reasons we've won so many games over the years. But I'd cut him today if it meant that it made our team better. I'd trade my own son if I had to."
3. "At this time of year you could get pretty much anything. Usually we don't talk too much about that until we get right closer to game time. I've made the mistake of going over it on Wednesday, there's going to be a blizzard [and it ends up being] 70 degrees. It's going to rain [and then] there's not a cloud in the sky."
~ Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the potential for snow impacting this week's game
Translation: "I can't predict the weather. No one really can, not even Willard Scott. I guess the Old Farmer's Almanac is pretty good, but I don't know. All I can predict is our team scoring a lot of points, winning the game, and my complaining about all the mistakes we make."
2. "I try to win every single time I take the field. Every time I try to win in backgammon. I try to win in cards...If that's pressure, then that's kind of competition and being an athlete. If you don't want to be in that position, you might as well quit the game because if it's too much that you're winning and all of a sudden there's pressure this probably isn't the right sport for you."
~ Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, when asked if there was added pressure to go undefeated
Translation: "I hate losing. I'm 90-24 as a starter in the regular season, but those 24 losses just kill me. I've got three Super Bowl rings but those two playoff losses really gnaw at me, keeping me up at night. I've decided I'm never losing again. Pressure? I eat pressure for breakfast."
1. "Some of it will be moving forward into Buffalo…Not looking ahead, but just kind of understanding what types of teams we're going to be playing moving forward, in the last seven games…Teams like Baltimore and Pittsburgh and teams like that going forward, the Giants, Philadelphia, teams that historically have pressured quite a bit, so that's something that we might want to take into consideration, just in our overall planning for the second half of the season. I'm not saying looking ahead to those teams, I'm just saying having an understanding of what type of things we might be facing down the road."
~ Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, when asked what he and the coaching staff would be doing during the bye week
Translation: "Screw this one game at a time thing. We're looking ahead. Undefeated season here we come!"
Of course Bill Belichick isn't looking ahead. But it's going to become increasingly harder on everyone -- players, coaches, and fans -- not to look ahead. The Patriots have a real chance of becoming just the second team to ever go undefeated. They also have a chance of winning more games in one single season than any team in NFL history. If they continue to practice what they preach -- truly taking things one game at a time -- they just might be able to pull it off. First things first though: the Buffalo Bills are standing in their way on Sunday night.
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"