So, if you dig around on the internet, you have probably seen this before, but today was the first time I saw it (via reddit sports).
The Patriots went from dead last on the Sports Illustrated's power rankings by Paul "Dr Z" Zimmerman to Super Bowl champions for the first time in the franchise's history.
Brady has been praised a bunch, of course, but objectively it is hard to think of a player who came onto a football team and made a bigger difference.
Here is a bit of a deep dive:
Dr. Z puts them 29 out of 31 after this loss: "Bad first outing, Terry Glenn distraction, but despite all that they'll give the Jets all they can handle in Foxboro"
(LINK on the Terry Glenn, a former Ohio State player, and his situation)
Week 2: "This is sad. Drew Bledsoe took a big hit and is out indefinitely. Honestly, I don't know what weapons they have with which to win a game."
Patriots fall to last place in the power rankings (31 out of 31)
(Tom Brady starts at QB against the Colts, who have a power ranking of 2nd. Peyton Manning was the starting QB. Ty Law, a Michigan Man, lead the defense and ran in an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, the second time the Pats converted a Peyton Manning turnover in the game.)
Highlights of the game and interviews via NFL (LINK)
Dr. Z writes:
" It's good for the game but bad for my rankings, and I'm talking about the phenomenon of a team at the very bottom upsetting one of the elite. Not just upsetting, mind you, but dishing out a relentless thrashing, a don't-let-your-kids-watch humiliation, something to the tune of 44-13. That makes it worse, of course, because how could I now have New England, the thrasher, still ranked 19 spots lower than Indianapolis, the thrashee? Well, let's be rational here. You can't get hysterical and raise the Patriots so many spots that they'd be ahead of better teams. Conversely, you can't move the Colts lower than teams they could beat. So you try to narrow the gap. Last week 29 positions separated the two teams. Now the margin has been reduced by 10. If they continue their winning ways, the Patriots will see that gap ever-narrowing until, ultimately, they'll face Indy in the playoffs and we'll find out for real. Playoffs? That set of games seems like a year or so away, doesn't it? On to our weekly platter of controversy."
Dr. Z continued in the ranking
Colts: (dropped from #2 to #5): OK, Patriots coach Bill Belichick always has had a good read on Peyton Manning, but what happened in Foxboro was ridiculous. The game films will be passed around on the X-rated circuit. Strictly adult entertainment.
Patriots: If someone would have asked me last week, "Name 10 possible ways in which the Patriots could upset the Colts," I wouldn't have included running the ball as one of them. I mean the idea would have been just too farfetched. But my No. 1 probably would have been "Play with more emotion," and I guess that was a big part of it.
On Week 10, Bill Belichick made the call for the 5-5 Patriots to start Brady for the rest of the season.
The comments for each week are here:
45 minute video on the season (narrated by Mr. Sheen): America's Game 2001 New England Patriots (LINK)
(*For the long-suffering Lions' fans, the Lions were 28th after week 2 and started at 18th that year) (LINK)