The Patriots built their reputation early this decade by coming up big in the biggest spots, and it almost seemed to happen by reflex back then.
It's not like that anymore. Not even close. Chris Gasper makes a good point on his newly-launched page today -- saying that the Patriots have failed the five-week test that we all said would define their season after the bye week.
Here's what I think might be an even better question: Just when did the Patriots' last signature victory occur? Think hard.
Maybe it was last year's November win in Miami, a convincing triumph over the eventual division champion, albeit one that was swiftly ushered out of the playoffs unceremoniously by Baltimore. Maybe the AFC championship two years ago, although that came with Phillip Rivers playing on a torn ACL, Antonio Gates battling through turf toe, and LaDainian Tomlinson sidelined. Maybe it was the historic season-finale to get to 16-0 against the Giants, although that game had no effect whatsoever on the playoff race for either team.
Point is, it used to be that there would be enough examples of big wins around here that you'd have to pick between them. Now, it seems you have to wade through qualifiers and go back not months, but years, with such a search. And that underscores how much has changed of late.