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Patriots As Tough As They Are Frustrating

The 2010 Patriots can be a frustrating group.

Twice on Sunday's opening possession, they gave up long third down passes to keep the drive alive. They couldn't even force a third down on the Raven's third trip down the field. And oh, God, all the bad dropped passes. Time-and-again, the Patriots took chances to take over the game and squandered them.

But they came out with the win, and that seems to be how the Patriots are running this year.

Sure, they didn't beat the Jets thanks to the beating Darius Butler took. But they've time-and-again made the play they needed to make when they needed to make it. Especially the defense. For every long third they allow an easy 15-yard pass on, there seems to be a clutch interception when the opposing team needs a game-winning drive.

Call it a larger scale version of bend-don't-break if you want. But it's more than that. On Sunday, the Patriots three times faced down a Ravens team that was only a field goal away from a win. And three times the young Patriots defense shut them down, only once allowing the Ravens to get even two yards into Patriots territory.

For a long time, it's seemed like the Patriots will only beat teams they can take a shootout from. While there are definitely still problems with the defense, we're seeing a team that's not letting games slip away. Actually putting together a huge second half on the road against a division opponent?

This may not be a pretty Patriots team. They may make things more difficult than we fans would want. But at the end of the day they're 4-1, and they've at least convinced me that they've got the stuff to keep it up.