There’s just nothing quite like the morning after a Patriots loss. It’s a small and grim view into the future, when the Patriots do finally return to mortal football team status. You can already see how passionately everyone from the national media to opposing fans will line up and pile on one after the other.
Those days aren’t quite here yet but of course everyone who is sick of the Patriots and ready for the NFL power structure to finally lose it’s long-time top dog is more than ready to start testing the waters — to casually float that someday Tom Brady will be done and maybe, just maybe, this was the first game we’ll look back on as the start of the decline.
No one is happier after a Patriots loss than the national media, especially in such a lackluster, injury-plagued season for the league. The Patriots move the dial. And nothing moves the dial for 31 teams like “MAYBE THE PATRIOTS ARE DONE!!!!!”
As a Patriots fan, it can be annoying, but let’s look on the bright side: The Patriots 2017 season just got interesting. Homefield in the AFC will fully at be stake next week in Pittsburgh. There is also a scenario where a 12-4 Patriots team loses out on a tie breaker to the Jaguars for the second seed. Woah.
It’s a jolt to go from probably coasting to the top seed to suddenly staring down the barrel of playing on wild card weekend. But hey, in-season drama and a race to the finish is what makes the regular season interesting.
Has this been an interesting Patriots team to this point? They got off to a strangely flat start. Their offense inconsistent, their defense at or near the bottom of every statistical ranking. But as they always do, Belichick’s Pats righted the ship and rolled off an eight-game win streak.
You’d think that would be more exciting for the fanbase, but it felt more like just living up to expectations, despite what should’ve been catastrophic injuries that never seemed to catch up with them until they went into Miami.
I know. “Injuries are no excuse” but when your best and most experienced linebacker is Elandon Roberts and he’s playing with a Bills practice squad player and a former special teamer from Cincinnati, they’re probably going to get exposed at some point. Miami correctly attacked that trio, on the edges and with the underneath passing game.
The Gronk absence showed just how important he is to the offense, magnified exponentially without Julian Edelman. Still, I thought Brady had one of the worst games of recent memory. That can be spun as “DOES HE LOOK 40!? IS HE FALLING OFF A CLIFF!?” but really all things considered, including how Brady’s played in Miami in the past (where he is 7-9 lifetime and lost four of the last five) this game doesn’t seam to be a significant PATS GOT EXPOSED game.
It was an undermanned and unacceptably low-energy game, which happen to every mortal football team on the planet.
And the brighter side; it really could’ve and should’ve been worse.
I was ready to murder the defense for this one, but then they delivered three punts to Brady and offense in the fourth quarter. There were plenty of chances to win this game, thanks to a defense that kept the game manageable. Also don’t forget 10 of the points came off Brady turnovers.
That has been my pressing concern about this defense and was curious to see them tested by falling into a hole and forcing them get stops with their poorly-ranked run defense. That’s exactly how this game unfolded. The Patriots defense had their backs pushed against the wall and they did fight back and give the offense multiple chances to win the game.
It was just on this night, the offense wasn’t up to it.
We’re used to complaining about the Patriots not having a deep game, well last night was a glimpse of not having any intermediate game. It wasn’t surprising to see them only start to move the ball once Amendola started getting involved. He would’ve had to double his six catches if the Patriots were going to break 30 in this game.
All together — with Flowers, Van Noy and Gronk out and Branch leaving the game — the 2017 Patriots were probably due to lose one of these sooner or later. Usually these games happen in the first few weeks of the season, but having it now doesn’t really worry me.
I think the Steelers will see a different team than the one that took the field in Miami, both in personnel and desire.
I always go back to 2007. Regular season losses can be a good thing and the good news is that the Patriots still totally control their own destiny to the first seed. Win the last three, it’s all theirs. But a loss this weekend makes things dicey. Those kind of stakes will get the full focus of the Patriots and usually that means good things.
Belichick probably pulled the team bus over after landing in Providence early this morning and buried the football on this loss. It’s already Tuesday and Sunday at 4:25 is the kind of meaningful game Patriots fans now crave. At this point it’s easy to just say “wake me up for the playoffs.”
Welp, the playoffs are here.