By Matt Dolloff (@mattdolloff)
BOSTON (CBS) -- The Patriots are on a mission. They're on a warpath to destroy everything in sight. Bill Belichick is an all-powerful mastermind, Tom Brady is a ruthless assassin, and Rob Gronkowski & Julian Edelman are his strong-armed henchmen, looking to vanquish every foe who doubted and disrespected them throughout their careers.
Well, that's one way to put it.
In reality, the Patriots' Scorched Earth Campaign was mostly a myth. Key word was: the Patriots just defeated the Indianapolis Colts, arguably the team's biggest target for retribution, and it wasn't the bloodbath Patriots Nation was hoping for. DeflateGate vengeance was essentially a petty fantasy and media concoction all along.
The win ought to bring many New England fans back to Earth, and confirm the reality of the Patriots' 2015 season: it's just another year. Another run to win a championship. No more, no less.
Thankfully, the DeflateGate talk has significantly diminished six weeks into the 2015 regular season. With the Patriots undefeated, playing well, and not fumbling the ball any more than DeflateGate truthers so desired, talk of underinflated footballs is practically nonexistent.
And with the rhetoric about cheating allegations against the Patriots reaching their calmest level since before last season's AFC Championship game, so can the discussions about the DeflateGate Revenge Tour - which was arguably just as overwrought as the "scandal" itself.
The Patriots are not going to go 16-0. Between two games each against the defensively stout Jets and seemingly revitalized Dolphins, road games at Denver and New York to face the Giants, and a handful of potential trap games, someone is going to pop them at some point. They may go 14-2 or even 15-1, but talk of another undefeated season was incredibly presumptuous and short-sighted. The fact that the Colts did not get blown off the field like so many people expected should put a rest to that discussion.
Perhaps the Patriots really were trying to embarrass the Buffalo Bills with their fourth quarter play-calling that almost let them back into the game. If so, it seems the Patriots have since assumed a mentality of "just get the win." They aren't throwing bombs in the fourth quarter up three touchdowns. They aren't trying to break records. They're just trying to win the game, and they'll be better off in the long run for it.
The Colts game was the culmination of the DeflateGate Revenge Tour, and with it now in the rearview mirror there's only one revenge fantasy left: Roger Goodell. And the only way to give the NFL Commissioner his comeuppance is to make him hand the Lombardi Trophy to Robert Kraft in Santa Clara on February 7.
The Patriots do not need to run up the score or embarrass teams to get back to the Super Bowl. In fact, they'd be better served playing close, tough games anyway. Just do your job, get out of games with enough wins as possible, and do what you need to do to bring Super Bowl No. 5 back to Foxboro. No need for any extra mustard on that bun.
The only people who continue to perpetuate DeflateGate and the "Patriots are cheaters" rhetoric are ignorant, uneducated fans who are embarrassing themselves and exposing their jealousy with each passing "they must feel deflated" joke. Don't worry about those people. Smart football fans may still be mad about Patriots' alleged cheating, but they realize how great Brady & Belichick are. They know that there's a good chance their team is going to have to get through the Patriots to win the Super Bowl this year. I'll also try to resist joking about cheating, too...but sometimes I can't resist.
So now, you should just worry about the Patriots winning another Super Bowl. Forget Scorched Earth - that is over. The Patriots won't get their ultimate vengeance unless they hoist another Lombardi Trophy as red, white & blue confetti rains down and the Ginger Hammer looks on with a forced smile and half-assed applause. They won't get to the podium unless they win the games, and the Colts game showed that the Patriots are human and won't be able to run everyone over.
It's time to focus on winning. The Scorched Earth Tour is over, but the mission to win a fifth Super Bowl has only begun.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Read more from Matt here. Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.
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