- Associated Press - Monday, November 15, 2010

FOXBOROUGH, MASS. (AP) - Bill Belichick isn’t surprised by a season of surprises.

The Patriots‘ impressive win over the Steelers one week after an embarrassing loss to the Browns? A three-touchdown game by rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski following a mistake-filled performance? Unexpected results throughout the league?

Happens all the time, New England’s coach says.

“It’s been like that in the NFL for 35 years,” a tired Belichick said Monday barely 12 hours after his team returned from a 39-26 win at Pittsburgh.

“Teams are in last place one year and they’re in first place the next year. Teams that nobody thinks are going to win a game, like Miami ended up winning the division two years ago. I think you see it every year.”

In his 11th season in charge, these Patriots are a tough team to figure out.

On one Sunday, New England’s young defense gets exploited in a 34-14 loss at Cleveland, which entered that game with a 2-5 record. Then the next Sunday it sacks the tough-to-tackle Ben Roethlisberger five times in dominating a team that began the day at 6-2.

Belichick is waiting to see which Patriots will show up for next Sunday’s home game against the Indianapolis Colts.

“Each week’s its own new week, so we’ll see,” he said. “It all starts all over again today.”

The Patriots are tied with the Jets for the best record in the AFC _ and the AFC East _ at 7-2. New York already has beaten New England, 28-14 after trailing 14-10 at halftime.

Two of the Patriots wins have been by just three points. But much of what occurs during games depends on three days of practice starting on Wednesdays. A lack of focus in the run-up to the Cleveland game was costly.

So the Patriots bore down, paid attention and were ready for Pittsburgh.

“If we learned from that (Cleveland) game, and if that loss helped us do things better in this (Pittsburgh) game or in future games, then that’s an unfortunate positive that we could take out of that game,” Belichick said. “There’s such a fine line in this league between being good and being bad that, in a lot of cases, it doesn’t take a lot for that differential to show up, one way or the other.”

Belichick said the Patriots probably were more focused because of the blowout by the Browns.

They definitely were more emotional. One glance at Tom Brady animatedly talking and gesturing to teammates on the bench made that clear.

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