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Burke: Patriots thrive after being humbled late in NFL regular season

The Patriots typically use late season losses as fuel the rest of the way
Burke, Patriots, thrive, NFL, season
Tom Brady threw two picks Monday night in Miami. Getty Images

The references that Bill Belichick was making in practice to his team were probably getting quite stale in the past few weeks.

“Hey Gilmore, remember when you got torched on that play against Carolina two months ago?!”

“Hey Malcolm, remember Alex Smith shredding you a few days after Labor Day?!”

“Hey Brady, remember when Jimmy G made you look like a poor man’s Trevor Siemian in that drill in practice three months ago?!”

But now, however, Belichick has a fresh angle to work with.

All of the mistakes the Patriots displayed in their brutal 27-20 loss to the Dolphins Monday night – and there would dozens and dozens of them – should actually serve the Pats well for the rest of the regular season and through the playoffs. Belichick can now remind every member of his football team about that December stinker in Miami, and he will surely remind every one of them that their poopoo does indeed stink.

It’s human nature to read your own press clippings. The Patriots do a tremendous job of hiding their awareness to the local and national narrative, but no doubt – they know all about it.

Last week at this time the Pats were the No. 1 team in every media outlet’s weekly NFL Power Rankings, and they were being heralded by most as the clear-cut favorite to win the Super Bowl yet again.

Then, Miami happened … with Jay “I was retired four months ago” Cutler lighting them up in front of a nationally televised audience.

That is one hell of a way to humble a football team.

Here’s the thing about the Pats. Having one ugly outing in November or December typically works out really, really well for them.

In mid-November last season, the Pats suffered a 31-24 home loss on national TV to the Seahawks. They responded the next game by hanging 41 points at Buffalo and that Sunday night loss to Seattle fueled them all the way to the early February Super Bowl against Atlanta.

In the 2014 season a similar thing occurred when the Pats lost a late November game at Green Bay, 26-20. No doubt, that “L” to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers sent a message to Belichick’s team (which had won seven games in a row previously) that they were entirely “beatable.”

Of course, that Patriots team went on to win it all, too.

The reverse of this “take your medicine now to feel better later” stuff occurred in 2010 when the Pats won eight straight games to close out the regular season. That run was highlighted by  a Monday night game in early December, when the Pats annihilated Rex Ryan’s Jets, 45-3.

A few weeks later everyone and their mother predicted the Pats would then blowout those same Jets in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Nope. Not quite.

Those Pats, who hadn’t been humbled in over two months, suffered a bitter home playoff loss to the rival Jets and were one-and-done in the playoffs.

Early in the Patriots dynasty, the Pats often talked about Belichick serving up hypothetical “Humble Pie” to all of the players with his sarcastic words and his “ya know, you’re really not all that great” approach to motivation.

The phrase “Humble Pie” even became a popular T-shirt worn in the Pats locker room.

Monday night, the Pats were supposed to fly back to Foxboro all wearing brand new “AFC East Champions” T-shirts.

Those T’s will have to wait. Instead, the “Humble Pie” T-shirts are sure to make a comeback, and will be all the rage with the fellas from now until the end of the season.

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