But it is not a stretch to say that, after all his years in New England, Belichick can communicate with his team without opening his mouth in public.
Over their next 29 offensive plays, his Patriots stormed to 21 unanswered points, a surge that put in motion New England’s 35-14 rout of the Titans. The victory extended the Patriots’ home playoff winning streak to eight games and assured that New England would be in the A.F.C. championship game for a record seventh time in a row on Jan. 21. The Patriots will host the winner of Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars.
The thorough destruction of the Titans ended a week of turmoil for New England in the wake of an ESPN report that suggested there were rifts among the Patriots’ holy trinity — Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and the owner Robert Kraft. The figurative ramparts enveloping the Patriots’ complex here, built on secrecy and communal silence across nearly two fruitful decades, suddenly seemed fractured.
But it is important to note who came off best in the story describing a conflict within the Patriots’ hierarchy. It was Belichick, which hints that someone from his camp was at the root of the anonymous sources in the report.
Which is another way of saying that Belichick can communicate with his team without opening his mouth in public.
And who came across worst in this contretemps? It was without question Brady, who was portrayed as self-involved in a flurry of off-the-record intimations.
Keep in mind that Brady had just experienced what was, for him, a difficult December. He had thrown an interception in each of his last five games, had been knocked to the ground more often than usual and had seen his completion percentage dip.