America is happy.
The New England Patriots, the very picture of villainy and evil for the sports fans of the country have been vanquished.
I’m not unhappy.
Sure, I’m bitterly disappointed, I’m frustrated, I’m upset.
I’m also proud. This team, what they had to overcome this season, what they had to overcome in this game, and they did not quit. I’m not unhappy with them as a team, despite the final score.
Oh sure, I’m prepared for an offseason of Gostkowski’s miss, Ebner’s pooch kick, about the game plan going into Miami and several other points which the simple-minded will grasp onto and refuse to let go off.
Shocker: Not all decisions made were correct or worked out. But you know what? I want the guy making the decisions right now to be the guy continuing to make those decisions for as long as he wants to make those decisions.
I want the guy quarterbacking the team to continue to quarterback the team for as long as he wants to.
After the NFL spent the entire offseason trying to derail the quarterback and team, and after 59 minutes, 45 seconds today of getting their quarterback thrashed, beaten and bruised, they still didn’t give up. Brady found Rob Gronkowski in the back of the end zone on a 4th down play to give the team a chance to tie with a two-point conversion and send the AFC Title game into overtime.
You know how it turned out.
Postgame, Stephen Gostkowski, as reliable a kicker as has ever played the game wanted the blame placed squarely on his shoulder after the game for earlier missing his first extra point in 10 years. His teammates would have none of it.They lauded his praises, calling him the best kicker in the league. The extra point he missed was early enough in the game that they expected to be able to pick him up, just like he has picked them up so many times with long field goals after stalled drives.
They couldn’t do it. Oh, they tried, but in the end, the missed point was the difference in the game.
I can’t say it enough. They never gave up. A makeshift offensive line which was missing starters Nate Solder, Tre’ Jackson and Ryan Wendell, could not hold up against the furious pass rush of the Denver defense, but when they needed to the most, on the final drive, on fourth down plays, they did just enough to allow Brady to find Rob Gronkowski for two miraculous plays to keep their hopes alive.
The Patriots defense after a rough start covering Owen Daniels, was every bit as relentless as Denver’s for the final three quarters of the game.
I’m satisfied that this team showed what the heart of a true champion looks like. That final drive, while not counting officially in Tom Brady’s collection of last minute comebacks, was as good as or better than anything he’s done. With the stakes, the crowd and the Denver defense, they were in position to tie the score.
This is why we watch sports – to see the competition. There will be plenty of small-minded media trolls who will be taking victory laps in the weeks to come, people who will criticize decisions made, armchair second-guessers who have no idea what went into making decisions. While you can attempt to argue over decisions, you cannot argue with the competitiveness of the team, and their lack of quit.
While Bill Belichick isn’t perfect, I have 100% faith that every decision he makes is the one that he feels is best for the team at that moment. He’s not always right, but he’s right more than anyone else.
I am just so incredibly proud of the focus of this team, even as the NFL was making a Federal Court Case over it’s own ignorance of science, the Patriots went about the business of trying to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
Now that their season is over, I hope that Robert Kraft will make noise over the lost draft picks, especially after the NFL releases their data on PSI checks for this season. I doubly hope that the team has done their own study, with enough evidence to expose any further deception the NFL may attempt to perpetrate. (Imagine if this game was in Gillette, and Denver’s sideline tablets went out? Right as the Patriots were going in to score? Mike Klis would be getting a call from an NFL source about now, saying that the league is investigating that the Patriots tampered with 11 of 12 of the Bronco’s tablets.)
If it turns out that Kraft allows the NFL to take a first and fourth round pick for nothing, without a public fight, I will be livid. Kraft is about conciliation as we’re constantly being reminded, but he needs to fight more on this topic.
If you noticed anything on the field today, it was that a first round offensive lineman sure would be welcomed here.
Preferably one with the type of heart we saw on the field today.