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Sports

November 14, 2011

Statement game: Belichick, Brady reclaim their place at top

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It's been a tough few weeks for the Big Two: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

Some called their recent issues "a slump." But many weren't so kind.

Two weeks ago, a New England-based national football writer wrote it's time to wonder if the game had passed Belichick by, on (coaching) and off the field (picking players).

Ouch.

Last week, another long-time local "knight of the keyboard" declared the Patriots Dynasty as we know it officially over.

Ouch again.

And last but not least, a Sports Illustrated poll last week of 239 NFL players ranked Belichick as their third least favorite coach to play for and Tom Brady as one of the league's most overrated players.

Let's just say, Patriot bashing, particularly here in New England, was back to Pete Carroll era levels.

And many people figured last night was going to be the official transfer of power; a decade-long mastery of the AFC East was going to end in, of all places, ugly East Rutherford, N.J.

Or so they thought.

What was supposed to be the beginning of the end for Belichick and Brady turned into a night the duo, and several million of their adoring fans, will never forget.

Belichick and Brady broke the all-time record for regular season wins by a coach and player team, with 117. They passed another AFC East combo, Don Shula and Dan Marino, who by the way never won the Big One in their reign.

"It's been a tough 14 days ... with two losses in a row," said Brady after last night's convincing 37-16 over the New York Jets, elevating the Patriots to 6-3 and sole possession of first place in the division and one-half game behind the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3) for the best record in the conference.

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