KANSAS CITY — At various points during this 2018 season, the Patriots:
- Were on their way to being the worst scoring defense under Bill Belichick;
- Lacked enough weapons on offense;
- Couldn't stop the run;
- Looked old and slow compared to the hot new teams;
- Couldn't win on the road;
- Outside of Stephon Gilmore, they couldn't cover anyone;
- And they featured a quarterback who, after skipping the offseason program at age 41, looked like he didn't want to take many hits or throw deep down the field.
That team is going to the Super Bowl. Again.
The Patriots obliterated any remaining boxes anyone, including some in this space, tried to put them into this season.
Here's the thing: all of that criticism was valid when it was leveled. The Patriots earned that heat. It was up to them to prove they were still the perennial champs they've always been. And on Sunday, they did that in one of the most hostile and pressure-packed environments you will ever see in any sport.
Especially that guy wearing No. 12 in the white jersey.
There were things that we've learned over the years with this team. We've learned we shouldn't pay attention to struggles in the first four games of the season, even if they drop to 1-2 in Detroit. We know the defense is going to struggle for a while, and then they'll be at least functional.
What have we learned this season?
The quarterback and tight end can vacation all over the world during offseason workouts. The Patriots can be terrible on the road in the regular season. And the Patriots can basically do whatever they want until the middle of December.
None of it matters. The Patriots have proved, by silencing 77,034 screaming red faces with a 37-31 overtime victory on Sunday night, that they can win in just about every way imaginable.
And it's because of Tom Brady.
Football is a funny game. There were 141 plays in this game, which featured