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September 21, 2013

Just win baby ... like the old days

There’s a new game being played in Foxboro.

It’s called “Whatever it takes to win.”

Sounds sexy, doesn’t it? Well, it is the polar opposite. In fact, it’s ugly. And you’d better get used to it.

If you go back and do your homework, you’ll realize you’ve seen it before around here, say a dozen or so years ago.

While everybody — and I mean everybody — laments the recent victories against the usual AFC East fodder (Buffalo, 23-21; N.Y. Jets, 13-10), we saw those sorts of scores a dozen years ago in 2001, against those same franchises (Buffalo, 12-9; N.Y. Jets, 17-16).

Here are some other less-than-artistic scores to chew on this morning, 17-6, 9-3, 12-0 and 12-0. All of them were wins in 2003, which probably was the best Patriots team ever, finishing 14-2.

Yup, it could be argued that while the Patriots have been winning lots and lots of games, they have lost their way and so have 99 percent of its fanbase. Everybody, it seems, is consumed by style points. We can thank Tom Brady’s precision-like passing for that. Winning simply isn’t enough any more. We want beauty, precision, grace and touchdowns. We want it to look easy. And, last but not least, we seem to enjoy it more when the opponent is embarrassed.

Here’s the problem: While the Patriots have won more football games (which can’t be dismissed) than any other franchise over the last nine seasons, they are 0-for-8 when it comes to the ultimate goal.

The other problem, when it comes to dismissing a 2-0 start that probably will be 3-0, is the bar. It’s been raised.

In fact, the bar has been raised so high that a lot of us have forgotten about a decade before the 2001 season, when a five-win season was considered a success around here. The irony is that while Brady became a statistical legend beginning in 2007 — averaging more than 10 touchdown passes per year than he did his first six seasons, the Patriots have not won a Super Bowl.

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