One could argue that the Patriots reign of terror ended yesterday at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens. One could stomp and crow and shout for the hills, the King is Dead! The King is Dead! The Ravens have slayed the King!
One could also just hand out business cards proclaiming themselves an idiot.
The Patriots were so good, so automatic, so money in the bank for so long that anything less than winning seems to be failure.
But to call the era of relevancy complete, after this season? Really? What are they going to do? Blow up Gillette Stadium and sell the franchise to the idiots at Majestic Reality Co.? Change their name to the LA Riots? Let’s be careful as we define the end of this season as it relates to history. Many teams have come back from devastating losses to be champions again. Every week in the NFL is a massive crapshoot. To now define the future based on one bad loss/season is pure folly. To be shocked by the loss to the Ravens or the way it happened only tells me you haven’t been watching the Patriots this season or you were watching them through red, blue and flying Elvis silver colored glasses. Beware of Sportscenter, it makes you stupid. The way the Patriots lost yesterday was only surprising for one reason, it happened at home. All of their weaknesses were exploited at the same time. The only thing that kept them in the game at all was the fact that the opposing quarterback completed 4 passes in the win. (So Kelley Washington, relax out there bud. You guys just became cannon fodder for the Colts)
The Indianapolis Colts, the AFC’s current team of royalty have made the playoffs every season since 2002. They won the Super Bowl once. (2006) Does that mean that every year the Colts lost they were at the end of an era? No, every season the team retools, reworks the franchise a little bit. They then go out and play again the next season.
One team gets to win the Superbowl per year. The Patriots had a down year on all three sides of the ball. That doesn’t mean they’re leaving the league. They couldn’t finish games, they couldn’t win tough road games, they couldn’t beat other good football teams. Does this mean that everything we’ve learned about the franchise is no longer accurate? Everything that happened between the years 2000 and 20010 is now kaput, because, uh, we have zero context to base it on? Because Bill Belichick doesn’t put on a little hat and dance and make jokes for the media in his press conferences? Because Tom Brady has sex on the regular with a Brazilian super model? Is this the other shoe dropping or is it just what the NFL has been about in the free agency era. The NFL that the Patriots somehow managed to beat consistently over the last decade. Oh I know, It’s because we like things in tidy little packages and a decade just ended. Therefore all things that occurred in that decade must be ending too. Right?
They have 4 draft picks in the first day of the draft, one of the best quarterbacks, best deep threats and best coach’s in the NFL. (Along with a slew of other “nearly best” distinctions) The absence of perfection does not equal zero. Pop quiz, who wins the AFC east next season?
You really want to put your money on the New York/ New Jersey Football Jets?
The Patriots reign of terror will end when Brady and Belichick hang ’em up. Unless of course they manage to pull off the rarest of all feats, the dynasty transition. Don’t think the Indianapolis Peyton Mannings are immune to this either. (Paging Curtis Painter) This is all assuming that football in 2011 isn’t canceled in the name of pure unadulterated greed. Which is looking more and more the case.
In football, as in life, you lose sometimes. You make mistakes. You have down years. You sacrifice for the future while trying your hardest for the present. These things happen. Your past success may not indicate future performance but it sure helps when you’re in the business of prognostication. The Patriots will contend again.
The thing is, in sport, the games always need to be played. A play, a game, a season, an entire era is defined one block, one read, one decision at a time. Mistakes are made, capitalized upon. A linebackers hips turn the wrong way, a safety baits a throw. Every moment of every game there are minute details that help determine the outcome of the play, the game, the season. No other team in sports in judged in such a knee jerk way. The Lakers lose by nearly four dozen points in a finals game and come back the next season to win it all. The Penguins can’t beat the Redwings until suddenly they can. The Yankees suffer the curse of A-Rod and then they don’t. Our collective rush to judgment is so profound in modern society that facts are trampled, speculation becomes headline. The Patriots aren’t done forever and ever. Neither are the Eagles, the Packers or the Bengals. Each player, each coach, each franchise will suffer its wounds and move back towards victory the best they can. If systems and talent are in place more games will be won than lost. Opportunities will occur again.
Chances are, this time next year the Patriots will be in a position to make a run again and the media may or may not be telling you “The Patriots NEVER EVER lose a home game in the playoffs!” “You NEVER EVER bet against the Patriots in this situation!” “The Patriots have the BIG GAME EXPERIENCE!”
That’s when you’ll have your opportunity to make your own judgments. Good luck out there.
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