A few thousand years from now, Internet archaeologists will stumble upon a moment in virtual time that defies explanation and logic.
September 30, 2012, 1:30 2:30 pm: A string of panicked tweets surrounding the New England Patriots Week 4 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Long, ugly message board threads burying Tom Brady, calling for Bill Belichicks head and mourning the Pats 1-3 start. E-mail chains, Facebook posts and more than enough sufficient evidence to support the idea of a Bills victory.
They'll be dumb-founded. What the hell is this?" they'll ask. "Our records show that the Pats started 2-2. They beat the Bills by more than three touchdowns!. But this . . . this is so real.
At this point, theyll hop in their time machine and head straight for Buffalo, wondering if they just uncovered a new channel on the space-time continuum.
Instead, theyll get there just in time to witness one of the most dominant halves in NFL history.
For those of us who were actually there, it's almost impossible to recreate the reality of New England's 1-3 start. But we all know it happened. Whether it was on the heels of Rob Gronkowski's fumble, Wes Welker's fumble, either of Stephen Gostkowski's missed field goals, Donald Jones' touchdown or any number of plays over the first two and a half quarters of yesterday's game, at one point, we all felt 1-3. We all saw the season slipping away.
But like I said, this morning those feelings are more foreign than Darko Milicic.
The Pats are done?
Hell no. They're just getting started.
Tom Brady's re-focused on Gronk, finding a rhythm with Brandon Lloyd and hasn't thrown an interception since his first attempt against Arizona. Wes Welker's back among the NFL leaders in receptions and receiving yards. The offensive line, even without Logan Mankins, shut down Super Mario and the most prolific pass rush in the division. And the running game? Forget Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden suddenly looks like the guy Laurence Maroney was supposed to be. (In terms of scoring points, the only real concern is Gostkowski, who's threatening to dethrone Daniel Bard as Boston's resident mental patient, but there's too much history to give up on him yet.)
On defense, things still aren't perfect, but there's more reason to believe that the Pats can compensate for those imperfections.
Devin McCourty answered the call after last week's disaster with two interceptions against Ryan Fitzpatrick. Say what you will about the quality of the passes, but the bottom line is that McCourty found himself in a position to make a play, and made it. Twice.
There's no doubt that McCourty and friends were helped by the existence of a Patriots pass rush. Last Sunday night, Joe Flacco had all day to pick apart the secondary. Yesterday, Fitzpatrick was constantly under pressure. By the end of the day, Crimson was not only his alma mater but also the color of his underwear.
In the middle, Brandon Spikes continues to prove himself as the perfect complement to Jerod Mayo and the number one impact player on this Patriots defense. Of course, Spikes is still a wild card, based on the fact that he's out of his mind. He might pick up a sack and force two more fumbles next week against the Broncos. He might throw his helmet at a ref. Who knows? But as long as he's on the field, the Patriots 'D' is on another level.
Speaking of which, Vince Wilfork turns 31 next month. He's played in more than 125 NFL games. Yet he continuous to play with the energy and passion of a rookie. He's in his ninth NFL season, and still impacts games in a way that guys his size just aren't supposed to: Tipping passes, recovering fumbles, fading back into coverage to deliver the most entertaining hit of the season.
By the way, did you notice that the Pats were only called for one penalty against the Bills?
And it came on a punt.
So, to quickly summarize: Yesterday, the Pats went on the road. Within the division. Scored 52 points. Forced six turnovers. Surrendered only one sack. And were called for only one penalty.
Think about that for a second.
What a performance.
Now think back to about two o'clock yesterday afternoon.
How was that even real?
It's a question they'll be asking for at least another few thousand years.