FOXBOROUGH -- Did you notice that the Patriots' most successful drive in Sunday's 13-7 win over the New York Jets -- the drive that resulted in New England's only touchdown -- came with the least amount of time to execute?
Perhaps it is true that successful teams generate their own fortune, for among the reasons the Patriots' two-minute offense resulted in the first-half touchdown was that the Jets ran defensive formations similar to what the Patriots' offense had prepared to face during its two-minute drills the week before.
Imagine spending an entire week preparing for a history exam about Thomas Jefferson's presidency, focusing heavily on the Louisiana Purchase, and discover that most of the exam questions are about that topic.
Surely New York didn't know how much guesswork it took out of the Patriots' efforts; all New England had to do was remember what it studied and answer accordingly.
"When you do a two-minute drill in practice at the end of the week you obviously can't cover every situation," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "So, whichever [situation] you pick out, the chances of that one coming up exactly that way in that game are probably not real good.
"But somewhere along the line you are going to need a field goal and have no timeouts, you are going to need a field goal and have three timeouts, etc. What was interesting this week was that the situation that we had on Friday was identical to the one that came up at the end of the half. Identical.
"That was the way Charlie [Weis, offensive coordinator] scripted it, and that was exactly the way it turned out. As it happened we really got into some red area [inside the opposition's 20-yard line] plays on Friday and we didn't like exactly where we were.
"So we kind of took a look at it Friday and revised it a little bit, and we went back over it on Saturday. Ironically, it came up exactly the way that we had planned it. It was a good thing we went in and talked about it. It probably resulted in more points than we would have had otherwise."
The result was that New England took the ball from its 38 with 1:55 left in the first half and drove to the New York 7 on seven plays.
The Patriots capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to David Patten with 5 seconds left before intermission for what would be the game's final score. The touchdown drive amassed 62 of New England's 201 yards of total offense in the first half.
The teams played a scoreless second half, enabling the Patriots to improve to 6-0 and extend their unbeaten streak to an NFL-record 21 games entering this Sunday's game at Pittsburgh.
"It was just kind of interesting how it worked out," Belichick added. "It was kind of similar, but different to the Indianapolis [season opener] at the end of the [first half] where we didn't have any timeouts. We hit [tight end] Daniel Graham on the pass over the middle, came up and caught the ball, and then kicked the field goal right before the half. We ended up winning the game by 3 points.
"That happened to be a situation we worked on that week, and just coincidentally it hit almost identically in the Indianapolis game, too. Sometimes you just luck [out] on those."
In a contest in which defense was at a premium, the drive marked the second and final time that the Patriots managed to move the ball inside the Jets 20. The other time resulted in Adam Vinatieri's 27-yard field goal.
Perhaps the Patriots, a team that prides itself on adjusting to the opposition's game plan, would have made enough improvisations during the last 1:55 of the half if required. But with the Jets running what they worked on in practice, the Patriots didn't need to.
"It seems like every time we do the two-minute drill in practice, we learn something as coaches and players going through the situation," said Belichick. "We go back and show it to them on Friday or Saturday, whatever day we do the drill.
"It seems like there is always a good teaching point that comes out of there. The question is whether that teaching point ever comes up in a game or not. You can go 12 games and that never happens. But, with this one, it was kind of fresh in our minds."