These are not the same Patriots we saw in late September. If that wasn't in the four previous games (and it's hard to imagine how it wasn't), it was crystal clear on Sunday afternoon when New England's offensive barrage came wave after wave and the Broncos were helpless to do much about it.
Tom Brady out-dueled Peyton Manning, throwing for 333 yards and four touchdowns as he ran his head-to-head record to 11-5 against the other first-ballot Hall of Famer.
"I think you just have to believe in what you are doing, believe what you are doing is the right thing," Brady said on Sunday, following the Pats' 43-21 victory. "If it doesn't happen in the first three weeks of the season, then you just have to believe in it and keep working hard. I think the guys really believe in what the coaches are talking about. I think they believe in one another and it's gotten us to a good point.
"There is no reason to change now. We haven't changed much in the 14 years I've been here, so I think we will just stay at it."
For an idea of just how good Brady has been, consider this: He's completed 133 of 197 passes with 18 touchdowns and one interception since the blowout loss to the Chiefs on Sept. 29. One of the reasons: the Return of Gronk. Tight end Rob Gronkowski continues to play his way back from a knee injury and, in the process, prove why he's one of the NFL's most dynamic pass-catching threats. That included a jaw-dropping one-handed catch near the Broncos goal line that set up -- you guessed it -- a Brady-to-Gronkowski touchdown pass one play later.
"It was the best catch I've ever seen," Brady said. "It doesn't get any better than that. I wish they would have given him the touchdown, but we came back to him on the next play and he got it."
Gronk added: "I saw it on the replay. It was a pretty good catch. Tom put it where I could make that play. It just happened. It was a reaction just going for the ball and when you see the ball you want to go for it. It's just a natural reaction to go get it. And it ended up being one-handed, which was pretty cool."
Also cool: The Pats are now 7-2, two full games up on the Bills in the division, and are now on their bye week. Hard to imagine a month ago this team was 2-2.