There are a number of ways to look at the Patriots 41-38 overtime win on Sunday. Some are pointing to it as an example of weakness in the defense and the possibility that the defending champs are not as talented as they appeared in their first two games. Others look to the hard-fought victory as a proof that the team can win games even when they don't play well and that they still have the ability to "win ugly" in a tight game.
While both sides might make valid arguments, the answers to this debate won't be known until much deeper into the season. Just ask the Miami Dolphins, championships aren't won in September. Conversely, ask the 2001 Patriots and they will tell you that championships aren't lost in September either. As can be expected, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick prefers to look at the games one at a time and simply correct specific problems rather than make generalizations in either direction.
"I think all the way around when the game is over, when all is said and done, we have a lot of things we need to work on in all three phases on the game," Belichick said looking back on the Chiefs win.
Belichick went on to talk about the fact that the Patriots gave up 221 yards rushing to Kansas City and would face another on the ground against the Chargers this week. The Chargers enter the game 3-0 and are the third ranked rushing offense in the NFL.
"Just looking ahead we see several teams on the horizon that have good running games and San Diego is definitely in that group," Belichick said. "LaDainian Tomlinson, we got a good look at him last year and he's one of the top runners in the AFC. I am sure we'll get challenged there. We see them every week whether it's been Jerome Bettis, Curtis Martin or Priest Holmes. You can go right down the line and there are a bunch of them on the schedule. We'll need to do a better job than we did against Kansas City."
In the Numbers
Regardless of how the Patriots are perceived, be it as the best team in the NFL or as an overrated team that has beaten three questionable opponents to start the season, there are a lot of interesting numbers and statistics dealing with the team in this young season.
The Patriots 115 points through three games is the most points in franchise history to this point in the season. It is also the second most points scored by a defending Super Bowl champion, trailing on St. Louis' 119. … Special teams captain Larry Izzo had six tackles in the win over the Chiefs on Sunday. On the season Izzo has 10 special teams tackles to lead the NFL. … The Patriots gained 496 yards against the Chiefs, the seventh highest single-game total in franchise history and the most since they gained 506 against the Seahawks on Sept. 21, 1986. … Through three games the Patriots have the number one ranked offense in the NFL. Conversely, this week's opponent, the San Diego Chargers, have the number one pass defense in the NFL. … The combined record of the next four Patriots opponents, San Diego, Miami, Green Bay and Denver, is 11-1. On the other hand the combined record of the three teams the Patriots have defeated to open the season is 2-6. … In the next two weeks the Patriots will travel a combined 7,480 miles in road trips to San Diego and Miami. … Deion Branch's 201 kickoff return yards on Sunday was the second highest total in franchise history. … Troy Brown has had at least one reception in 46 consecutive games, including playoff action. … Marc Edwards has had at least one carry and one reception in 16-consecutive regular season games. … Although he has battled numerous injuries, guard Joe Andruzzi has started 22 straight games, including playoff action. … Barring any unforeseen issues, Lawyer Milloy will play in his 100th NFL game against the Chargers, including 94 consecutive starts dating back to his rookie season.