On November 25, the Patriots met the Eagles for what was, at the time, the largest point spread in professional football in a game that didn’t involve an expansion team. With McNabb out, the bookies laid 23.5 points on the game, expecting another blowout. An onslaught of blitzes and three competitive quarters later, Brady looked rattled. The Patriots, taking grief for running up the score in the 4th in all other games, had to scramble to pull out a win.
All right. So the Pats had been shown to be vulnerable. But Belichick was a smart man; he wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. Especially not against Baltimore.