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Sep 29, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New England Patriots free safety Devin McCourty (top) intercepts a pass intended for Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown (15) with cornerback Jonathan Jones (31) defending in the first quarter at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Far be it from me to be the hopeless optimist in the room, but you’re looking at it all wrong. When the Patriots have a defense – and when they still have Tom Brady – that is never a bad thing.

And if they’re winning low-scoring games with consistency, that is great, great news.

And so, in the wake of Sunday’s 16-10 rock fight against the Buffalo Bills, don’t get distracted by the absence of lights a flashin’, by the void of buzzers and bells. To find a Patriots defense this good – at least so far – you probably have to go all the way back to 2004, when the Patriots asked Brady to do less and when they downright dominated.

Consider this: somewhere after 2004, Brady became Brady and the Pats became less about defense and more about offense. During that time, generally speaking, the Patriots didn’t win if they didn’t score. From 2005 through last season’s AFC Championship Game, the Pats played 44 games in which they scored fewer than 20 points; they went a dismal 12-32, which shouldn’t surprise you. If you don’t score you usually don’t win, after all, and that is true for the Patriots as much as anyone else.

Unless you happen to have the kind of defense that takes enormous pressure off the quarterback.

Fact: beginning with last year’s Super Bowl – a game won on defense – the Pats are now 2-0 in their last two games when scoring fewer than 20 points. If you think that sample isn’t big enough, you might be right. But while we’re waiting for more evidence, let’s also tell you that the 2003-04 Patriots went 7-0 in their final seven games when scoring fewer than 20 points, and many of us would argue that those years remain the peak of this Patriots dynasty.

Now, this is a generalization, but let’s make it anyway: from 2005-2013, when the Pats failed to win a Super Bowl, the primary reason was that their defense wasn’t good enough. And when the Pats failed in the playoffs, it was usually because they didn’t score. In 2007, 2010 and 2011, to name a few – opponents found a way to slow down the Patriots offense and New England simply couldn’t win the game any other way.

But now? Now the Pats can beat you by shutting you down, which leads to a scenario that should make you smile.

Every time he touches the ball this season, right then and there, with 20 minutes remaining or with two, Tom Brady will have a chance to win the game.

You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.

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