Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are a coach/QB tandem unlike any other the NFL has ever seen. Since the pair arrived and took over in 2001, the Patriots have really turned up the heat in the month of December.
To recap how New England kicked off this December, they took it to the Vikings, defeating them 24-10 and remaining undefeated at Gillette Stadium this season. Tom Brady was magnificent once again despite an uncharacteristic interception, completing 24 of his 32 pass attempts for 311 yards and a touchdown. Number twelve also reached another milestone, as he scampered for 6 yards early on in the first half. Brady has finally reached the 1,000 rushing yard plateau for his career, and it only took him 19 years and 587 rush attempts to do it. Pretty efficient, right?
Head coach Bill Belichick was asked about the accomplishment after the game and he replied with a smile and said, “Yeah, that’s really important to us.”
Some other impressive bits that came out of the game against Minnesota:
• Tom Brady tied Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes of all-time (Regular & Post) with 579.
• Tom Brady completed passes to 9 different receivers.
• This marked the 75th home win for Brady since 2007.
The defense was also a huge part of the win as well, as they were able to hold down Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, two of the NFL’s best receivers, for the majority of the evening. Diggs was listed as questionable and went through a pre-game workout along with CB Xavier Rhodes to see if they’d be able to suit up. They did, but it still didn’t matter.
Diggs was limited to just 5 receptions for 49 yards, while Thielen fared even worse, just 5 catches for 28 yards.
However, stone cold defense in December is nothing new for Bill Belichick coached teams. Since 2001, the New England has posted five shutouts in December.
But what’s an even crazier stat? Those five shutouts have contributed to the Patriots going undefeated in the month eight times in the Brady/Belichick era. Seven of those came with Brady under center, because the 2008 Patriots (Brady tore his ACL in the season opener) actually did it too, if you can believe that.
Tom Brady also now has 60 wins in 71 career games played in the month of December, including this week. Looking for a comparison? Brady’s longtime rival Peyton Manning has fewer wins and just one less game played. Manning has 49 wins in 70 career December games.
New England just knows how to win in crunch time, when it matters most. This time of year in the NFL is always the toughest. Injuries are at their worst, fatigue sets in, and everyone is making their final push toward a playoff spot. Plus, when you’re as good as the Patriots are and you’ve been at the top of the mountain year in and year out for almost two decades, everyone is gunning for you, which makes this run even more impressive.
However, the Pats will be in for a tough task when they travel to South Florida next week to take on the Dolphins. A place where historically, New England has not been good. Their December dominance will certainly be put to the test against a Miami team just barely clinging to their playoff lives.
Nothing the Patriots haven’t seen before. See you next week, Miami.
-Brendan Howe is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @Brendan__Howe