Are the New England Patriots Mortals Like the Rest of the NFL Now?

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bill-swift - October 16, 2012

Since the turn of the millennium the New England Patriots have been the class of the NFL. Five times they've been to the Super Bowl winning three of them. They have failed to win the division just three times and didn't make the playoffs just twice. The individual accolades are too numerous to mention.

The team's resume over the last decade or so has been the stuff of legends; superheroes even. However, the only problem with being on top for so long is that eventually someone finds your kryptonite and you fall. Did someone find New England's finally? Could time be up for the Patriots?

Change is always in the air for teams in the NFL. It's the nature of free agency and an ever changing landscape of talented players shifting teams making almost contenders competitive and the elite teams average.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been a master of keeping the team fresh with new, young talent so that there would be no drop off when older players were cut or retired. He hasn't had much luck doing so with the defense in recent years, but his offense led by long-time QB Tom Brady has been able to more than make up for it.

So far this season that does not appear to be the case. Nowhere was that more evident than in the game against the Seahawks Sunday.

Seattle does have a tough defense, but that didn't stop Brady from tossing two touchdown passes en route to a 17-10 half time lead. New England has come to expect to be in the lead so it was no surprise to them. Confidence is a way of life for the Patriots.

That confidence was evident when Tom Brady decided to talk smack to Seattle defensive back Richard Sherman after Sherman had picked him off late in the third quarter. Supposedly Brady told Sherman and safety Earl Thomasto "see him after the game when they win....."

For Brady this was not a problem. He can talk smack; he's Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots. They always win.

Not this time.

Thomas picked Brady off on the next drive, the defense locked down on the Patriots for the rest of the game holding them to just three more points. Russell Wilson added two more touchdowns for the ‘Hawks in the fourth quarter to give Seattle the upset win, 24-23.

Sherman, of course, let Brady hear about it after the game.

It seems blasphemous to say almost, but the common denominator in the three losses the Patriots have so far is the game being put in the hands of Tom Brady and a subsequent failure to get a running game going.

In Week One against the Tennessee Titans Brady only passed for 236 yards (23-31, 2 TDs) while Stevan Ridley had 125 yards on 21 carries. Against Buffalo Brady threw 36 times completing 22 for 340 yards and three touchdowns, but in that game thee backfield combined for 247 yards (137 for Brandon Bolden and 106 for Ridley). The following week against Denver it was a pretty similar situation (Brady had 223 yards while the running game combined for 253 yards).

In the three losses Brady threw 46, 41, and 58 times for well over 300 yards in each game with just three interceptions total. The running game failed to crack 100 yards in any of the three losses, and in fact gained just 255 yards combined (just two more than they gained against Denver).

So is it too much Tom Brady? Do the Patriots need to run it more now? Are the play makers surrounding Brady slacking off? Or is the lack of a strong defense finally catching up with them?

Could it simply be that New England's time on top is over? Only time will tell.

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