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November 24, 2009

10 reasons to feel good about Patriots

FOXBORO — What a difference a week makes.

The New England Patriots went from being crushed to sitting in the catbird seat in just one week. They not only took care of the New York Jets, but they got some help in Kansas City and Oakland Sunday.

After taking a deep breath and checking the standings, you realize the Patriots are right where they need to be. And a lot of that came to fruition at Gillette Stadium Sunday.

Here are 10 reasons to feel good about the Patriots' place (not the mega-mall on Route 1) heading into Thanksgiving week:

1. No Colts hangover.

The Patriots and Jets both desperately needed to win on Sunday, for similar reasons — mental anguish. But it was the Patriots who played angry from the opening snap. While it's too early to shun the devastating loss to the Colts as insignificant (home-field advantage in playoffs still at stake), it's not too early to say the Patriots put the mental part of the loss behind them.

2. Maroney has ears.

Patriots running back Laurence Maroney showed his disdain for the criticism — he's a dancer, not an NFL running back — by getting out of Dodge before the locker room opened to the media. But Sunday's game was one of his best as a Patriot. He only had 77 yards, but they were 77 very physical yards. Not only did he score two touchdowns, but he ran over two Jets defensive backs on two of his 22 carries. The fact that Bill Belichick stuck with his running back after his second fumble in two weeks, spoke volumes of his importance. Fred Taylor is expected back soon. But if Maroney runs like he did on Sunday, he will be the go-to guy.

3. Somebody on 'D' made plays.

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