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14-2. Wait, what?: A look back on the 2010 regular season

By Ryan Hannable

The New England Patriots capped off their 2010 campaign yesterday afternoon demolishing the Miami Dolphins 38-7 finishing the year 14-2, and the #1 seed in the AFC as well as having the best record in the entire NFL. As a fan when your team goes 14-2 it is always special, but when it is completely unexpected, it makes it even more special.

Going into the season the over/under on Patriots wins was 9.5, and almost everyone was saying they would be lucky to get to 10. It was expected that the offense would have to carry the load and put up tons of points week in and week out because of the young and inexperienced defense that was thought to be poor. The Patriots start rookies at cornerback-Devin McCourty, middle linebacker-Brandon Spikes and outside linebacker-Jermaine Cunningham. They also start 2nd year cornerback Kyle Arrington, who before this season was strictly a special teams player. When your defense is so inexperienced it is hard to expect success, and that what was the thought going into the year-that the defense would be below average and the offense would have to dominate its competition to make up for it.

The assumption actually held true for the first eight games of the season, where the Patriots defense gave up 24, 28, 30, 14, 20, 20, 18 and 34 points in their games. The Patriots were 6-2, but were not winning games as convincingly as they would have liked. In the eighth game of the year the Patriots traveled to Cleveland and were destroyed by the Browns and running back Peyton Hills ran down their throats all game long. Instead of dwelling on the loss the team made this their turning point of the season and have not lost since. The defense has held opponents under 10 points four times since as well, and head into the playoffs holding their opponents to under 10 points four out of their last five games.

The 2010 Patriots have put up some incredible stats as well. Quarterback Tom Brady has not thrown an interception since the Browns defeat, and has set the record for consecutive passes without an interception. He finished the year with 36 TD passes and only 4 INT's, his 9.0 TD to INT ratio is the best in NFL history, beating his old record of 6.25. No other quarterback has ever been above 6. The offense also finished with the fewest turnovers in NFL history, with 10. The previous record was held by the Kansas City Chiefs, who finished with 12 in only a 10 team season (1982 due to the strike). The defense posted a team record +28 in turnover differential, which was good for second best in NFL history. They had 25 INT's on the season with McCourty leading the team with six. While the 2010 team may not be as flashy as the undefeated 2007 team, this team got it done differently by taking care of the ball and playing mistake free football. This team is also different from the 2007 team because the 2010 team is hitting their stride going into the playoffs, the 2007 team reached the peak in week 13 or 14 and did not play well going into the playoffs.

It is now playoff time and as their coach Bill Belichick has said, "everyone is now 0-0". While this is true, the Patriots sure look to be the favorites to represent the AFC in Dallas in the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. Anyone out there ever see this coming? Didn't think so.

Check back next Monday for a preview of the Patriots first playoff game which will be played Sunday, Jan. 16. I'd love to get any feedback that readers may have, feel free to email me at ryanhannable@yahoo.com.

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