ATLANTA – All teams practice two-minute scoring drills. The New England Patriots, apparently, practice two-minute press conferences.
Tom Brady was fresh off a 30-23 victory in Atlanta, one of the more difficult places to play in the NFL. He'd completed 20 of 31 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns. He'd honed a herd of ignored and disregarded receivers into a surgically precise attack.
And afterward, he looked for all the world like he was making small talk at a Starbucks counter.
"We slugged it out," he said. "This was a very good team. This is a hard place to play. It was nice to win and get to 4-0."
Good. Hard. Nice. These are the kinds of words that Brady and the rest of the Patriots deploy to keep the rest of the world at bay – meaningless tidings that give the appearance of an answer.
More examples …
Head coach Bill Belichick: "We had a good second half against a good football team. … That's a good club that Coach [Mike] Smith has over there in Atlanta. They fought us hard straight to the end. They made a good example of what it takes to win in this league, and that's 60 minutes of good football."
Wake up, we're not done yet. Julian Edelman, who had seven receptions for 118 yards: "It's just another win. It was a good win and a good road victory."
Good and nice are good and nice, but the most important word of The Patriot Way is this: control. Control of the ball on the field, control of the message off it. You can't alter or affect that control any more than a ripple in the ocean can affect the course of an ocean liner.
The message, from Belichick on down, remains the same: We did what we were supposed to do, but we can always do it better.
"We still have a lot of work to do and a lot of things to clean up," said Kenbrell Thompkins, the undrafted wide receiver with a touchdown and 127 critical yards in this game. "We will correct the mistakes tomorrow and keep moving forward."