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History tells us awful Week 10 performance a bad omen for Patriots

John Tomase
November 12, 2018 - 12:29 pm

Game 10 usually represents that moment in a Patriots season when the potential energy of the slingshot becomes kinetic and begins slicing through the rest of the NFL.

That’s one of the many reasons that Sunday’s 34-10 defeat in Tennessee was so shocking. At a time when the Patriots are usually hitting their stride, they fell flat on their face. To understand just how out of character this is, consider the Pats’ performance in equivalent weeks of every season since 2007.

Overall, they’re 13-5 in Week 10 since Tom Brady became starter in 2001, but they entered Sunday 13-2 in such games since 2003. Here’s a look back at the previous 11 for context.

2017: Patriots 33, Raiders 8

The Pats were already rolling when they visited the Raiders in Mexico City and this one was never close.

2016: Patriots 30, 49ers 17

Coming one week after a loss to the Seahawks that wound up being their final defeat of the season, the Pats made Colin Kaepernick (remember him?) look decent for a half before pulling away.

2015: Patriots 20, Bills 13

The final highlight of a season that went off the rails. The Pats beat the Bills to improve to 10-0 before injuries decimated them. They’d lose the next two weeks, first to the Broncos in overtime when Brock Osweiler led the hosts back, and then against Philadelphia on mortar kick night. They lost four of their last six before dropping the AFC title game in Denver.

2014: Patriots 42, Colts 20

The Jonas Gray game established the Patriots as Indy’s physical superiors. If they had played that way in the AFC title game, there’d have been no reason for Indy even to think about deflated footballs, but we know how that story ended.

2013: Panthers 24, Patriots 20

This was a Patriots team just barely holding on, and this game proved it. The Patriots still believe Rob Gronkowski was held in the end zone on the final play and they’ve got a case. Regardless, after falling to 7-3, they won their next three games by a combined seven points before dropping the AFC title game in Denver.

2012: Patriots 59, Colts 24

They ran up the score this bad before Deflategate? I don’t even remember this game, or this season, really. The Pats topped 50 twice that year and 40 four other times (including playoffs) before getting slapped around by the Ravens in the playoffs. This score against Indy was skewed by two interception return TDs and one punt return touchdown by Julian Edelman.

2011: Patriots 34, Chiefs 3

After a 5-3 start, the Patriots won 10 straight to reach the Super Bowl, where they got Mario Manninghammed by Eli Manning and the Giants.

2010: Patriots 31, Colts 28

Two weeks after Cleveland’s Peyton Hillis ran all over them for 189 yards and two TDs, James Sanders recorded the team’s third interception of Peyton Manning in the end zone to deny Manning a 21-point comeback in the final seven minutes.

2009: Patriots 31, Jets 14

Coming one week after a 35-34 loss at Indy, a mediocre Pats team on its way to 10-6 stomped the Jets.

2008: Jets 34, Patriots 31

The infuriating Dustin Keller game. Matt Cassel had tied it with the throw of his life on the last play of regulation, a 16-yard TD to an elastic Randy Moss, but the Pats left the Jets tight end uncovered on a critical third-and-15 and Brett Favre drove New York to the winning field goal that ultimately denied the Pats the playoffs.

2007: Patriots 56, Bills 10

The Pats won every game this season, so whatever, but this one gave us Moss at his most breathtaking with four TDs in the first half before the Pats called off the dogs. And still nearly put up 60.

One other 10th game deserves special mention. In 2001, the Patriots dropped a close 24-17 decision to the Greatest Show on Turf. It’s the last game they’d lose that season, which culminated in New Orleans with a rematch against the Rams in Super Bowl 36, the title that started Boston’s run to greatness.