The word of the day in New England -- and rightfully so -- is resilience, as in the tremendous resilience the Patriots showed Sunday night in Pittsburgh.
Fresh off an embarrassing loss to the Cleveland Browns two weeks ago, the Patriots bounced back in tremendous fashion by thoroughly dominating a superior Steelers team at Heinz Field.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who's paid attention to the Patriots during the Bill Belichick era. Since 2003, they've lost back-to-back games just twice during the regular season, a remarkable statistic that showcases their ability to handle adversity and put the immediate past behind them.
Conventional logic suggests Belichick's influence has a lot to do with why the Patriots bounce back so well, particularly this past weekend. The players say it all starts in the week leading up to the game.
"Like we said last week, it started with practice. Practice was terrible (prior to the Cleveland game)," nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. "There were little things we were doing wrong and it carried over into the game. Going into this past week, we were like, 'Let's get a good start.' Once we saw the film of Cleveland, we made the corrections and we put it behind us.
"I think everybody got off to a great start in practice. We had a great week of practice and it showed (Sunday night). Everybody did their job and played the game we needed to play and we needed to be aggressive against this Steelers football team because that's their style of play. They don't know how to play any other way but physical and aggressive, so we knew we needed to match that intensity if we were going to have a chance and I thought we did that."
Aggressiveness played a factor, too. The Patriots took more chances against Pittsburgh's banged-up offensive line and attacked Ben Roethlisberger with reckless abandon, sacking him five times and knocking him down an additional five times on top of that.
"The calls we had in allowed us to be aggressive," Wilfork said. "From the coaches to the players, we never second-guessed out there when we made a call. When a call got sent in, everybody was so tuned in and knew exactly what they needed to do and it allowed us to play aggressive and hard.
"And you know what? When we play like that, and when we play consistent football, we're playing great. It's the times when we don't play consistent, it hurts. It was a great example of us all being on the same page, jelling together, and going out and being physical, especially up front. Both our offensive and defensive lines handled their front pretty well."
The dominance up front must continue this week, along with the positive vibes that began in practice last week. The Indianapolis Colts come to town Sunday in what promises to be another high-intensity game. Even without the same explosiveness the Patriots have grown accustomed to seeing through the years, the Colts will more than likely put up a fight that could result in a close finish.
"You know Peyton (Manning) is going to be Peyton," Wilfork said. "You know he's going to hit the open receiver. He's going to hand the ball off. It seems like we've been playing them forever. We kind of know them and they kind of know us. It's going to come down to who's executing the game plan better. Who's not going to make the mistakes? That's what it's going to boil down to."
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