FOXBOROUGH, Mass. —
And last December, the Patriots trailed the San Francisco 49ers 31-3 midway through the third quarter, then scored four touchdowns in the next 15 minutes to tie it before losing 41-34.
“One thing we’ve shown is that, mentally, we have some toughness. We’ve been in some bad situations,” Belichick said. “We’ve been able to hang in there even when it hasn’t always looked great. But, really, I would say that the season for us is kind of starting now.
“The teams that play well in November, December and January,” he said, “those are the teams that are standing in the end.”
Starting in 2010, the Patriots are 25-4 in those months during the regular season. They have a good chance to make that 30-4 with games remaining against Houston, Cleveland, Miami, Baltimore and Buffalo — all with losing records.
But if those games are close, count on the Patriots to fight until the final play. That’s when their last two games were decided.
“These games, they come down to the end almost every week now,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. “You never know what’s going to happen, so it’s that whole bend but don’t break mentality of keep fighting, keep after your opponent to pull these wins out. It’s a great way to win.”
Even if some unorthodox decisions are made.
The Patriots won the overtime coin toss and decided to kick off and force the Broncos to go into the wind — even if it meant giving Manning and his potent offense the ball.
“The whole situation was a little bit confusing,” Belichick said, “because when I told the captains that, there was a little bit of a question of, ‘Are you talking about deferring?’ I was like, ‘No, we’re not deferring. We’re taking the wind, period.’ “