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.


121 thoughts on “No Super Bowl For Patriots, But No Quit, Either

  1. Teddy Roosevelt said it best:

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, and great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst of it, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

  2. Sure, I’m bitterly disappointed, I’m frustrated, I’m upset.

    Disagree with you Bruce. I’m disappointed, but not bitterly. And not upset.

    Best case scenario IMO is Brady & Belichick have two more years together. (Father Time will get Brady.) Once they’re gone lots of “fans” around here will find out soon enough what real disappointment is. I’m just going to enjoy what Brady & Belichick have left, and gladly take any disappointment that entails.

    1. We’re so spoiled that we can be angry at getting to the AFCCG for the 10th time in 14 years. 5 years from now when we’re 8-8 we’ll realize how fucking lucky and awesome this run has been and how utterly ridiculous crying about a pooch kick for two months really is.

      1. Spoiled? Nah….those people who are calling the radio shows and posting in the forums today about how the Pats have gone to five AFC championship games in a row “and only have 1 Super Bowl win to show for it” aren’t spoiled, are they? It’s unreal. I want to crawl through my computer, or my radio (depending on the vessel), and strangle “fans” like that. They’re 2-3 in those title games — not surprisingly, the two wins came in the games in which they were as close to 100% healthy as possible (not including Gronk’s Bernard Pollard-caused injury in the 4th quarter of the 2011 game against Baltimore, because at least he played in most of it). In 2012 they were sans Gronk, and lost Talib in the first quarter. In 2013, they had seven starters on IR, including Gronk — and lost Talib in the first quarter. This year, we know what they were dealing with injury wise. Those people braying today about “meaningless” trips to the AFC title game are really going to get a huge reality check when this team turns into the Titans or Jaguars a couple years after BB and Brady are gone.

    2. I think many of us that pay attention are only bitter about the DG stuff.

      I’m happy the NFL is keeping it alive because I’d love for this to get blown open and the NFL exposed for the fraud and corruption that went on. The only other way is if Kraft really goes rogue but it sounds like he doesn’t have the stones to do so. That’d be better than another Superbowl.

      Disappointed we lost? Yeah.

      But, I’m happy we’re not the 49ers, Cowboys and Raiders.

      I also do not hope that’s what 10 years from now is. Each of them is unique but it all starts with either a Spauling Smails or horrible leader.

      We have to take the good with the bad w/BB, even though some media and fans vomit all over themselves if the team doesn’t win the SB each year.

  3. Already deleted Felger & Mazz from my podcast playlist. NO WAY I’m going to suffer through that. As bad as we feel tonight, they’ll find a way to dig us deeper into an abyss of negativity. John Dennis is getting close to that level. I’ll tune in and out to Beatle/Zo and Dale & Holley but other than that I plan on stepping away from sports radio for at least this week. I agree with Thornton when he says he will not apologize or be made to feel bad for being a fan and enjoying this run. And that’s precisely what people like Mazz and Dino will do to you this week.

      1. Zo gives a player perspective and Dale, Michael, Jerry tend to look at things a little clearer and not go off all half-cocked and yelling about everything like other mic monkeys in this town.

  4. Very well said Bruce. As soon as the two-point conversion attempt failed, I launched into what will be a three-week media blackout period. I’m not going to subject myself to the victory-lap takers around here and in the national media; I’m not going to listen to the relentless Manning ball-washing (with nary a mention of HGH among them) from the national press; and I’m not, for the first time in my life, watching that corrupt, dishonest, despicable league’s championship game in two weeks, because Park Avenue’s conduct towards the NE franchise over the past 12 months has lost the NFL a customer, for good, when it comes to patronizing its non-Patriots-related product. It’s funny, Bruce mentions a lot of the single plays or instances that, if they’d gone the right way during the regular season, would have guaranteed that yesterday’s game was played in Foxboro, and he’s right about them. But the images I can’t get out of my head all come from that Philadelphia game, and the ill-advised onside kick isn’t one of them. No, they’re the blocked punt for a TD on the last play of the first half, and the 100-yard INT return in the second half, which came three plays after James White appeared to just trip and fall down on his way to the end zone, resulting in a first-and-goal at the one rather than a TD. Huge fourteen-point swing after that sequence……and your AFC title game ends up in Denver rather than the friendly confines of Gillette. Just wasn’t meant to be this year. Despite what the victory-lap-taking trolls in the local media will be saying over the next few weeks, it’s simply not realistic to expect a football team to play the entire final month of the regular season with half its roster either out of action or severely limited, and then expect them to pick-up right where they left off in early November before the injuries reached critical mass just because some of those key injured guys donned their uniforms again; and that’s especially true of a football team’s offensive line, which is the one unit on the field, above all others, that thrives on continuity.

  5. Bruce…your optimism as always is appreciated. Allow me to angry and negative with specific parts of that game yesterday because it was out of character. In no particular order:

    – Why did it take 3+ quarters for the Pats to figure out they had to attack Denver’s linebackers?

    – With 6 minutes left the Pats had the ball inside the 10 looking at a 4th and 1. I was screaming at my TV…kick the FG and get the ball back. They went for it and failed. They had the same opportunity with 4 minutes left after Denver went 3 and out in 15 seconds. Again no FG. They get the ball back a third time, Brady and Gronk make 2 miracle plays and then Taleb makes a great play on the 2- point conversion. It happens. My issue with not taking either of the other two FGs. They needed a FG to get the lead. They were playing for the tie. So uncharacteristic.

    – Denver’s DL was killing the Pats OL all night…I could be wrong…but not one flanker screen…at least not one I saw. no draws. Nothing to slow them down.

    – On the defensive side…what were the Pats thinking for the first quarter…respecting Manning and giving the receivers cushions. They fixed that once they played tight. But why didn’t they challenge the receivers from the get go?

    There were other head scratchers…it was a baffling game plan coupled with some seriously questionable in game decisions. The good news Ed Hoculi called a good game. If you are a Denver fan Von Miller was a beast. I am angry at how that game played out because the failings were on the Pats. I am not sure NE could beat Carolina…I KNOW Denver can’t.

    1. I’m not a coach. I don’t see the “all 22” film like the coaches do. I don’t “study game film” either. But, for the love of God, almost anyone could see that kicking the FG with just under six minutes left in the game was the right thing to do. They had three timeouts, plus the two-minute warning, and they had shut down Denver’s offense, save for that one long run that led to the FG in the 3rd quarter, for the entire second half. If it’s a 5-point game at that stage, the result may have been different. And I also was texting people: “Why don’t they try a few screen passes?” It’s almost as if McDaniels lost half his brain right after Dion Lewis blew out the ACL. The dump-offs to the RBs pretty much ceased to exist after that moment. Eh….it just wasn’t in the cards this year. The O-line, when healthy and when they’re able to play the same five guys together for several weeks in a row, isn’t nearly as bad as it looked over the last six weeks of the season, playoffs included. Too bad the NFL stole their first rounder — the 29th pick is usually a good place to tab an offensive lineman in the first round. Effing corrupt, criminal enterprise, that’s what they’ve got down there on Park Avenue.

    2. ” Denver’s DL was killing the Pats OL all night…I could be wrong…but not one flanker screen…at least not one I saw. no draws. Nothing to slow them down.”

      Absolutely. And it’s not like this was a case of “mediocre defensive line plays out of its mind” — this is exactly what anyone who has watched five minutes of a Denver game this year would have expected them to do. And I, like you, didn’t really see anything designed to counter the speed of the line…. until 57 minutes into the game, when Denver was laying off a bit in nickel and dime packages.

      Wait, no, it was a FANTASTIC game plan! I think any team looking for a head coach would be idiotic to not hire Josh McDaniels! Right? He’s tremendous! Give him another chance!

      Edit: I think the reason they didn’t play tight early is they planned for/expected Denver to focus on establishing the rush early, and Denver came out more balanced than they expected.

    3. I’ll give credit to the refs, after the start of the game where they called PI to enable Denver to score a TD then failed to call it when the same thing was done by the Denver defense, I thought we’d be seeing a lot of rigging. They were fairly reasonable the rest of the way though. It would have been very easy for them to call that lateral an incomplete pass; they didn’t.

  6. By the way, I was appalled at the Patriots’ post-game conduct, crying and whining about how their Tablets weren’t working on the sidelines yesterday, and saying, “this sort of thing only happens out here in Denver.” Oh wait…..they didn’t make any excuses for losing, did they? The rest of the National Whiners Brigade could learn a few lessons from that.

    1. I considered staying up late to see if there was a breathless 2 AM tweet from Shaugnessy or Borges that the NFL was investigating the Broncos for that equipment failure. I’m glad I decided to go to bed.

      Also, it’s funny to read the comments on an article or responses to a tweet about the issue with the tablets. It was a lot of “Tablets don’t help you block” and “Tablets don’t help you tackle.” I’m a lot of those people had a completely different opinion about the PSI allegation a year ago.

      1. Filming signals doesn’t help with those things either, but apparently it was still the single biggest “unfair competitive advantage” a sports team has EVER had in the history of all organized sports (putting aside the fact that BB and the Pats were most certainly not the only NFL team engaged in that practice). One’s head can literally pound with pain from trying to keep track of all the hypocrisy out there.

        1. So many people bring up spygate and act like the Pat’s are the only team that did it. I just send them this 30 second video of John admitting he and many others did the same thing. Oops, the NFL has now blocked it from being shown on youtube. TYPICAL

          1. Wow….really? They blocked that video? How typical. Too bad for the NYJFL that there are still tons of newspaper articles from back in the day which quote several other coaches admitting to doing the same, or similar things. There are also transcripts of radio interviews that JJ and Cowher did in which they admitted that it was common, and that they did it (or, again, similar things). The hilarious thing about it all is that BB, almost incredibly, had to remind everyone in that Mona Lisa Vito press conference last January that the signals they were filming were being sent in by a guy waving his arms in full view of 70,000 people. How in holy hell is that considered “spying?” That NEVER would have become an issues if the league had a real commissioner who understood the game, and its history, and the gamesmanship that goes on between teams. Instead, the owners hired an incompetent, egomaniacal, media-addicted control freak with a penchant for lying through his teeth on a regular basis.

          2. After the Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl, Richard Sherman said they had figured out Manning’s hand signals, which helped them shut down the most productive offense in league history. No one, not even the Denver fans and media, made a big deal about this. Not even to make a distinction between legal and illegal signal stealing.

            There was also a Don Banks article from July of 2007 about “cheating” in the NFL. Filming signals was in there and it was looked at the same way as a team signing a player an upcoming opponent had just cut.

            The fact is, no one cared about signals being stolen until it became a means to deal a setback to the Patriots. And then everyone went back to not caring again.

            About that Madden video, it was a 42 second clip from 1992. It seems strange that that video would be taken down when there are things like complete games or embarrassing incidents, like Adam Jones smashing Amari Cooper’s head against a helmet still out there.

          3. Oh right, that Madden video from a Washington game back in ’92. I remember that now. Hilarious that it’s been taken down. What was that slogan for the X-Files TV show? The Truth is Out There!

  7. I sincerely hope they told Marcus Cannon to pound sand and closed the plane doors and left him in Denver. Honestly never seen an lineman look so putrid in my life. If Denver sent Dustin Colquitt or Brandon McMannis out to play some snaps at DE even they could have gotten a sack.

    The line as whole was awful. Brady was hit or sacked 24 times. 1 out of every 3 dropbacks he was picking himself off the ground. It was as bad or worse than the Giants Super Bowl.

    1. Just heard on Gresh/Zo that according to Doug Ferrar of SI it was the most hits a QB took since 2006. So even more than the Giants.

  8. some good points here Bruce but sorry, the “they didn’t quit” angle is lame. They’re pro athletes, that’s their job.

    1. Do you realize how many teams and athletes do EXACTLY that? Quit? Happens every week. Remember LeBron vs the Celtics in Game 6? It may be their job but it doesn’t stop many of them, a LOT of them, actually, from doing just that.

      1. The entire Raiders team after the “Tuck Rule” decision was made by Walt Coleman. They simply quit on the rest of that game, and that’s on them (even though the call was correct, despite protestations from the peanut gallery which still, even today, echo throughout the NFL and media landscape).

          1. Agreed. However, they didn’t show much fight on the rest of that drive after the call was reversed, and then let the Pats drive down the field with ease for the GW field goal on the first OT possession — remember, all of this took place in a steady snow with terrible field conditions, and yet they couldn’t stop an offense that had done nothing for the first three-plus quarters of the game. Some media observers who were there have suggested that the team’s collective body language was not good. Certainly, the entire locker room was obsessed with the call afterwards, which is a possible sign that their minds were somewhere else as the final minutes of the game played out. But, we will never know for sure. Still, they didn’t look to me like a team that was fully engaged in the battle once Coleman reversed his original call.

      2. I think teams do appear to quit when they are getting blown out or the game starts to get away from them. But this was a one score game all the way, it would have been pretty strange if the Pats had quit in this one..

    2. Few teams do what the Pats were able to do yesterday in coming so close to tieing it, or what they did against Philly and nearly storming back against a huge deficit. They deserve credit for it. Even the media elite gave them credit for it.

  9. Yesterday’s beat down exposed what I think the Patriots should do to help protect and maximize a soon to be 39 year old QB,Brady. It would be in the Patriots best interest to build a more classic offense. Get a true outside no.1 WR. We can’t have almost all our passing plays be inside slants and when those inside passes are shut down you then resort trying to use a RB to stretch the field and that is a bad sign.They have to get a legit RB. There has to be a RB who the defense has to really game plan for so a team like the Broncos can’t just pin their ears back and put Brady on his ass all day. And with Lewis coming back next year that would make for a nice change of pace combo. And then there’s the OL. They’ve got to get a little tougher up there. For gods sake Cannon was a turnstile all day. Thank god Brady wasn’t seriously injured. Solder will be back but they still need to get better depth on the OL. The offense has been excellent for years but i’m just trying to think about Brady’s age and wear and tear. He won’t be Superman forever and with their emerging defense I think it would be a good thing for everyone to sure up some of those holes on offense.

    1. I think the OL is definitely the priority. I would expect BB to select OLs with a number of his (reduced) picks. This D has a chance to be very good for years going forward, although a little depth at LB and in the secondary would be nice (the DL is stacked with really good players and should get even better).

      I view an outside WR as a luxury, not a priority. They have proven they can score a lot of points as long as this receiving corps is healthy. But some depth is important. I can’t imagine Lafell being here next year (was he even targeted once yesterday?) so they will need to bring in some more candidates.

      1. Many people consider the WR position to be a luxury. I hear it a lot but my point is this. why make it harder for Brady? You don’t need another Randy Moss but a legit outside WR wouldn’t be a bad thing. Just because you can get by doesn’t mean you have to. And yesterday was a clear illustration of what happens star TE and slot WR are held in check. they were forced to send their back up RB on deep passes. That’s not good.

        1. I’d prefer bringing in a 2004 Corey Dillon-type at RB. If that team had a 1,500-yard, Pro Bowl-caliber back who needed just 2 inches of daylight at the LOS to break into the second level, rather than two feet of daylight like most of the RBs on the current roster need, the offense would be unstoppable (and the O-line wouldn’t look nearly as bad). Because…..what do you do then if you’re a defensive coordinator? Do you load up to stop the running game and hope Brady doesn’t dissect your pass defense, or do you still sellout to stop Brady, Gronk, Edelman, et al, and hope that your rush defense doesn’t allow 200 yards? Oh, and having a Dillon-like threat not only means Brady throws less and gets hit less, but it also unleashes his lethal play-action fakes and opens up the screen game for a hopefully healthy Dion Lewis. It wouldn’t surprise me, honestly, if BB places a call to Philadelphia this spring and inquires about DeMarco Murray, who sat around for most of last season while earning a ton of money — the Eagles would love to dump him and he’d probably love to come to NE, and may be willing to restructure his deal to make it happen. I can dream anyway.

          1. I view the running back position as a luxury, I think they’re okay next season with Dion Lewis and Blount back and an improved offensive line should help not just the quarterback, but the running game as well. I think the offense had too many running plays this season anyway, and every time you run, you’re taking the ball out of the hands of your best 2 players in Brady and Gronk.

          2. It’s a luxury for sure. but why not still go for that? I want all my bases covered for injuries and wear and tear as this team had by the end of the year. The alternantive is hoping that all your important options are healthy all year in a sport like football. That is very rare.

        2. Not sure what happened to Lafell…I know he was injured for the first several games but he never seemed to get into a rhythm this year. He proved he could do it last year though so I wonder if his injury was lingering, or was last year a fluke?

    2. I’d use the highest draft pick they have on picking an offensive linemen and hopefully enabling them to get rid of some of the crap at that position we were left with at the end of the season. I’d love to see a free agent signing there as well, but they may need that money to lock up their young defensive talent, and unlike the media, I don’t believe this “cap is crap” stuff. At the very least I hope they cut Marcus Cannon and use any cap savings there to improve the offensive line instead of giving him money he doesn’t deserve.
      I don’t think they need an outside threat or an elite running back. They will have plenty of offensive talent next season if the skill position players are healthy. Any money spent on the offense should be used on the offensive line.

  10. One more thing. I refuse to listen and or watch any sports talk until spring training. I’ve already deleted all the local shows podcast from my iphone and I’m very excited to catch up on some music I haven’t listened to for a long time and start getting into more coverage of the Presidential campaign. But for my own well being I refuse to expose myself to what I think will be the greatest trolling of all time on local radio. I will not listen to Tony Mazz tell me everyday how he was right and Bill is stupid and arogant for blowing home field and it’s all his fault blah,blah ,blah. Douchebag’s a broken record. I refuse I just can’t take his high pithc whining. I suggest for everyone elses well being you do the same for awhile. Good luck with the national Belichick troll fest.

    1. Boston’s sports talk personalities don’t seem to realize how closely tied their ratings are to winning local teams, the Pats especially. Once teams’ windows close, and fan interest declines, so will interest in sports talk radio. As much as the current lineup of hosts loves to rip, criticize and troll, they will regret it when the inevitable down cycle occurs and all but the hard core listeners and callers turn their attention elsewhere.

      1. I wondered the same thing today. The troll/they should suck/we love to trash, how would that change if this town morphed into some sh*thole like Cleveland in terms of pro-Sports?

        I think it’d been so good for so long, many forget that. It’s surprising
        since many here now came from markets with losing traditions.

        You said it and it’s a proven point about ratings:winnings being in lockstep. How much and how close? That would be an interesting research paper.

        1. One thing is for sure: If/when Boston pro teams hit a down cycle there won’t be enough interest to support two local sports talk radio stations.

  11. I’m not upset because the last offseason forever taught me that wasting emotional capital on a league controlled by greedy, loathsome wastes of human life who put the profoundly stupid epitome of everything that’s wrong with American social stratification in charge of their battles between brain-addled violent thugs whose health issues they pretend to not know about…. isn’t worth it.

    1. Guess someone had to take the fall, right?

      When Scar left, he was lauded but I always wondered if they took a run at Rick Trickett. He’s @ FSU right now and all the guys who actually knew the team said him + Scar were like Bill and Ernie, but Trickett is really tight with Fisher @ FSU. Don’t know the situation but he’s one of the reasons why we drafted Stork.

  12. Well said Bruce. I think many fans just don’t realize how special this past 15 years has been. To be in the upper echelon of the league every year, competing for a championship is unparalleled in football What most fans don’t realize is the fine line between success and disappointment. Eli Manning is a fine QB, but without two sensational bordering on miraculous catches, he’s a guy who couldn’t get it done, even with a stellar defense. Future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning won his only Super Bowl through a come back win over the Pats in the 2006 AFC title game. He benefited from one horrendous phantom pass interference call that put the Colts first and goal at the one instead of 4th and long near mid field. Without that call he might be going into
    SB50 at 0-2. There are plenty of other examples, in all sports. The Patriots have walked that fine line and come away with the ultimate prize more often than not. Don’t forget, no Malcolm Butler, no Super Bowl win #4. The final drives of SB36 and 38 would be nothing without key finger tip receptions from Troy Brown. Bruce has it right. By all accounts they were Rocky getting the snot beat out of them yesterday, but they kept coming back. Right up to the end. The defense gave up exactly 3 points in the last 2 and 1/2 quarters. If you can’t appreciate the effort, find something else to do on Sunday afternoons.

  13. In the end, injuries were the biggest issue for the team and why they are now eliminated. The offensive line was the biggest reason we lost the game, and they were so bad because they were so injured. People like Tony Mazz will point to how the team started 10-0 then collapsed down the stretch, well if you look at how the injuries added up more and more over the course of the season, that they didn’t do as good later on makes a lot more sense.

    I think there are some worthy criticisms of the team separate from that. The offensive play calling at times this year was shoddy. Yesterday’s game featured numerous times where the Pats ran into the line and got 0 or 1 yards. After it happening over and over again you’d think they’d stop with it but they kept at it. Brady threw way too many balls at James White as well, who showed time and time again that he couldn’t catch the ball. I’m surprised they didn’t throw to Edelman more. And it was absolutely brutal to see Gostkowski, as amazing as he is, finally miss an extra point at the absolute worst time, a kick that ended up making the difference.

    I think its also worthy to criticize them for not locking up home field advantage. I’m not going to act like Felger & Mazz and blame the drop kick for destroying their season. But as with yesterday’s game you can blame some offensive play calling in later games that was way too conservative. You can also look at the defense, which played overall quite good throughout the season, giving up massive plays to both the Broncos and Jets in their 2 overtime losses to those teams this year. They lock up home field advantage, they win this game. If there’s one thing Michael Felger is right about, it is that.

    In any case, I’m happy with the team for providing me an entertaining season and have full faith that we’ll at least have our sixth straight AFC Championship game this time next year. I’m expecting the Panthers to completely demolish the Broncos like we saw with them and the Seahawks 2 years ago.

    Sad to say that I have no faith in Kraft doing what is right and fighting for those draft picks. Lost most of the respect I had for him when he turtled on the matter back in the spring.

  14. I have been thinking about this and realize I’ve had the wrong attitude about the loss. Instead of disappointment i should be happy since the media has always told us that worst outcome is for the Patriots to lose in the Super Bowl. Next year, I am hoping for a 10-6 finish that leaves them out of the playoffs but winning the regular season finale – since the most important thing in the NFL is to not lose your final game.

    1. That means other than the Super Bowl years, 2002 and 2008 were the Patriots best. God the media is just awful.

      1. Yes, although the 2008 was quite enjoyable despite missing the playoffs, winning 11 games with Matt Cassel as QB. Would have been interesting to see how that team fared in the playoffs.

        1. I agree, and I think they would have made a little run. BB had picked up Colvin and Seau (both out of retirement, basically) late in the season and they fortified the defense somewhat, holding Super Bowl-bound Arizona to 7 points and then shutting out Buffalo on the road in the final two games. The offense still had Welker, Gaffney, Moss, and a pretty good running game that season, and, after the first four weeks, when they lost two games handily (the “Wildcat” Miami game at home, and then at San Diego), they never really were blown out that year. It’s also worth mentioning that the 2008 Steelers may have been the weakest AFC Super Bowl winner in a long time, struggling past 8-8 San Diego, 11-5 Baltimore (when Flacco was just a rookie), and then 9-7 Arizona in the Super Bowl. They were beatable, and the Pats had already seen them once that year, losing at home but leading that game at halftime before an avalanche of turnovers in the second half did them in. We’ll never know, but I agree with you that 2008 was a very enjoyable season. Unfortunately, it’s also a Catch-22, because Brady’s remaining doubters out there (and they still exist), point to that season and say, “New England went 11-5 without him, so it’s just the system and not Brady.” I have a friend who says this all the time, and says Manning, and even Marino (he of the 1 Super Bowl appearance, mediocre playoff record and multiple non-playoff seasons during his career), are/were better QBs. Eh, whaddya gonna do?

          1. New England did go 11-5 without him. They also regressed 5 wins from the previous season (with a much easier schedule. Only 4 opponents that year had a winning record.)

          2. Correct, and, for those out there who point to the Colts’ “Suck for Luck” season without Manning (2-14) and the Pats’ 11-5 season without Brady, and say, “that proves Manning is better–look at how their teams did without them in the lineup for a whole year,” it’s worth noting that the reason the Colts sucked that year, in addition to trying to get Luck, is that their roster-building approach from Day 1 in 1998 was geared towards putting the best possible offensive weapons around Manning, and then trying to just “hold serve” a few times on defense during their games. It worked during the regular season….not so much in the playoffs, when you actually have to face quality defenses who aren’t as easy to hang a 40-burger against, and then YOUR defense needs to step up and do more than just “hold serve” a few times. The Pats, as we all know, try to build an entire roster, 1 through 53, and try to be deep enough to be able to survive the loss of a key player or two — even if one of them is the HOF quarterback. These things don’t happen in a vacuum. One of the reasons the Marino apologists in Miami and elsewhere are able to say, “he never had a running game to help him out,” is because Marino pretty much ran the offensive show down there over his last 10 years as Shula got older. Yes, they had offensive coaches/coordinators, but the approach basically was, “Dan, what do YOU want the game plan to look like?” I lived down there for six football seasons, and never once did I hear Marino voice displeasure about having to throw the ball 40 times a game because the Dolphins couldn’t run effectively; he loved it, and that’s what he wanted to do every Sunday–chuck it around the field.

    2. Right! It’s why Montana gets extra credit for not losing a Super Bowl. He lost a lot of games in the playoffs that they should’ve won but it wasn’t in the Super Bowl. The more times you go like Brady (6) the less likely it is you’ll be perfect.

      1. And he was a dropped Cincinnati interception from losing SB 23, which was the SB win he was most famous for — the 92-yard game-winning drive which culminated with the TD pass to Taylor with 34 seconds left. Earlier in the 4th quarter, however, with the 49ers down by 7, he threw a pass to the goal line, right into the chest of a Cincy defender, who dropped it (I want to say Lewis Billups, but I could be wrong). A couple plays later, he hit Rice for the game-tying TD. If that ball is picked, SF probably loses that game, and Montana’s SB record is 3-1. That’s the difference sometimes between winning and losing in the NFL, and more so now than in Montana’s era, when the NFC was much, much stronger than the AFC most years, and the Super Bowls were not very competitive (that game in Miami between the Bengals and 49ers was one of the rare exceptions back then). It’s worth pointing out that without the Asante Samuel dropped INT, the helmet catch, and the 2 blatant, ignored NYG holding penalties that enabled Eli to escape in order to throw the pass that Tyree pinned against his helmet, Brady is 5-1 in Super Bowls, and the lasting memory of SB 42 will be of him driving the Pats down the field for the go-ahead score with 2:40 left in the game, after being beaten to a pulp by the Giants’ pass rush all night long up to that point. And, if Gronk is at 100%, there’s no doubt he wins Super Bowl 46. If there’s no 12-men on the field penalty to give the Giants their first TD instead of forcing them to kick a FG, he also wins SB 46. He’s that close to being 6-0. He’s also a couple of lucky breaks for the Pats from being 2-4 in Super Bowls. That’s life in the modern NFL. But the “Montana never lost a Super Bowl” argument is lame. It’s true. It’s a fact. But it’s a lame argument, because there is so much missing context.

  15. I have a feeling that this loss will motivate Bill like losing to Manning in 06 AFC game did. Like that one ,this was an especially hard loss to take. It already started with the OL coach getting fired. The clock is ticking for he and Brady and I suspect he’s going to shock a lot people this offseason.

    1. I think he’ll do something. I don’t know what, but he’ll do something. Maybe a couple of trades like in the 2006-2007 offseason. Without the stolen first rounder, his intra-draft trading abilities will be limited a bit this year. He may just say, “We’re in good shape roster wise, and only 1 or 2 rookies are making this team next summer anyway, so I may as well trade some of these picks for veteran upgrades.” Their cap space isn’t that great right now, but they can clear some room by cutting a few guys (sadly, Mayo is a likely candidate — complete shame that his body betrayed him like that over the past few seasons). That ’06 loss was worse than this one, though. They were up 18 late in the 2nd quarter, then the bizzaro flags started flying and allowed the Colts — and the crowd noise, fake or not — back into the game. The flu and the mounting injuries on defense took care of the rest. They had Rex Grossman and the punch-less Bears offense waiting for them in the Super Bowl two weeks later. This year, it would be Super-Cam and the 15-1 Panthers, who just eviscerated two very good playoff opponents. Bit of a different scenario than in ’06. That loss will gall me forever. The 18-1 Super Bowl loss was bad, but at least I walked away feeling that they got outplayed (and outcoached) that night. In 2006 I walked away feeling that they just had something taken away from them….

      1. Mayo is gone for sure. Would actually like to see Mayo realize he’s washed up as a player and get into coaching. Everything I hear is that Mayo is a mental wizard. Bill seems to be cleaning house on his staff. Would like to see Mayo join the coaching staff and learn under Bill.

        1. You know who I’d hire, seriously? Tom Coughlin. He’s out of work, but the fact that he was willing to interview for the Philadelphia job shows that he still wants to be involved with coaching. He and BB go way back to their days on the Giants’ staff in the 80s under Parcells, and it would be nice to have him on the Pats’ side for once, rather than having him destroy their Super Bowl dreams from the other side of the field. Make him an Assistant Head Coach in charge of, something…..just get him on the staff. (That was, by the way, BB’s title in Foxboro the one year he worked for Parcells as an assistant after Cleveland fired him: Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Backs). Also, that Assistant HC title has been vacant since Scarnecchia retired, I believe. Fill it with Coughlin!!!

          1. I like it. Coughlin Assistant Head Coach. If he decides that he can’t get a another head gig then that would good. an extra set of experienced eyes from the same system is always good.

      1. Seriously, though, they’ll have the picks to trade up into the back end of the 1st round or early in the 2nd if they want to. Which is about where you’d be looking at an OL (other than special and/or unfortunate cases like Tony Mandarich and such). Mankins was a #32 pick, for reference, and that was considered a reach for a non-elite OL.

        1. If they trade into the first round, they have to pick at 29. That was part of the punishment. They cannot move any higher. So if they wanted to make a trade with, say Oakland, the Raiders would give up their pick but the Patriots pick at their originally designated spot. This is a failsafe after they lost the pick in the 08 draft but still were able to take Mayo at 10.

          1. Yes, that is correct. The NYJFL made sure they put that “poison pill” into an already toxic “punishment.” I’m sure it’s because BB already had that Top 10 pick in ’08 from a previous trade, so the “Spygate” penalty turned out not to be as severe as the NYJFL wanted. My God, how I hate that league office.

          2. And hate all the other owners. They seethed about that SF pick for 7 years and that the Patriots kept on beating them. The only thing billionaires hate more than losing is admitting someone else is just better than they are.

          3. I know. In the end, this is all being driven by Kraft’s “friends” among the other 31. Goodell is just their willing vessel, though I must say things are worse with Goodell in there than they would be with someone else, because of his Jets connections and his stacking the front office with BB-hating ex-Jets employees.

          4. Good point – I forgot about that.

            Still can easily (I think) trade into the top 10 of the second round, which should be fine for getting a quality OL, if that’s how they want to go.

          5. I’m under the impression that the NFL closed that loophole. Bill can’t trade into the 1st round. They won’t be allowed to have ANY 1st round pick.

  16. Shocker:

    Those who wonder whether the NFL will simply brush the Manning
    situation under the rug will be intrigued by the latest development in
    the story, from T.J. Quinn of ESPN. Quinn reports that Major League
    Baseball and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency are collaborating regarding the alleged involvement of baseball players. The NFL, per Quinn, declined.

    “Our review of the matter continues,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy
    told Quinn. “We do not comment on specifics of ongoing reviews.”

    1. “We do not comment on the specifics of ongoing reviews.” No, they don’t comment on ongoing reviews — they just leak damaging information about the Patriots, their players, or their coaching staff, whether it’s true or not, to one of their reliable media lickspittles. I’d be shocked if this goes anywhere. The template is established: Manning is the good guy. For crissakes, I saw an article on a POLITICAL site this morning headlined: Manning in Super Bowl. Character wins! I did NOT bother to click on it, because, clearly, the author thinks the Patriots and Brady lack character, and thinks Manning is squeaky clean. It just goes to show you how important cultivating a public image and playing nice with the media have become (not that it wasn’t always true, but in today’s fast-food media/Twitter age, it’s critical). I mean, the guy who wrote that article, for lack of a better term, is a victim. He’s a victim of the NFL’s anti-Patriots lies and propaganda, and the media’s willingness to spread the lies and continue to pound home the story line: CHEATRIOTS! Bill Belicheat!! The guy called himself “The Deflator!!” “Brady destroyed his cell phone!” Meanwhile, Manning is just the somewhat funny, self-deprecating guy in those TV commercials. It would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic.

      1. I’m hoping MLB and USADA find plenty of smoking guns. That will increase pressure on the NFL to actually do something. Even better would be if the MLB investigation turns up irrefutable evidence of Manning and other NFL players being users.

        Would give Goodell and the NFL a nice black eye in the wake of them so transparently trying to look the other way.

        1. I picture the “investigation” by the NFL into this matter going something like this…..with Goodell in the Ned Beatty role, of course:

  17. Anyone hear the “Brady Dishwasher” interview on D+C? Have to say he’s an interesting one. How did we not know about him before?

    1. Soon to be “former” dishwasher? How many years has Tom been on with D&C? 7 or so? This season they really seem intent on digging into his personal life for some reason. And for what reason? I assume it’s a year-to-year deal and I really think TB12 should tell these guys to kick rocks. Like, what’s the f**king point of having this guy on the radio? I think it’s some NFL rule that Tom has to be available to the media but he should go on a different show next season. Maybe OMF or Dale & Holley. I generally like the “Coffee with the Quarterback” but this season has come off as very distasteful and way to personal.

      1. I’ll give them credit for not bending over when some of the controversial stuff has come up. He did defer or deflect but it’s better than not asking. Compared to his interviews w/Gray when I’ve heard the Westwood One MNF broadcasts, they’re entertaining.

        Just my take. I know the recent ESPN article touched on this and the trust there.

        The team’s stuff with WEEI is paid. Guys could go on whenever but other than the required NFL availability, they don’t have to. Same with Jim Gray. Brady doesn’t have to do that.

        I don’t know the exact arrangement but I’ll just take a guess that if Tom told Zachary/Kraft that he had an issue with D+C+M, they’d move it real quick. I think that he and the team do this just for competitive reasons, with SportsHub having the rights. I don’t know if this is the same in other big markets where there are multiple stations, though.

      2. He should actually go on a show on you know… like the PATRIOTS FLAGSHIP 985 the Sports Hub. At least on Toucher and Rich they already have the number one show and don’t need to sink to desperate attempts to get attention like D&C trolling Brady in his interviews this year. Scumbag move by that show.

        1. I’m not an expert on this so I have to ask. Why is it that Kraft with his ties to CBS and his teams broadcasts on CBS owned 985,would allow his players and coach to do interviews on a rival station? Especially after this year with that asshat Minehane just trolling Brady every chance he could about his personal life. That was disgraceful. If I were Brady I would’ve told them to go f off after they tried to make him look like a snake oil salesman and that fat John Dennis made fun of a healthy guy for eating healthy and not being a sloppy fat drunk like him…but oh yeah they have it all figured out and Brady is the silly one…

          1. I like the fact that Fred is a 40 something white fella who grew up privileged and isn’t afraid to wear a flat brimmed hat to show you he’s down with the omies.

          2. I’m not sure of the real reasons but I would wonder if part of it is trying to get notable coverage from both of the big sports radio stations in town and open up 2 possible revenue streams.
            Another is you wonder is the fact that 90% of the talk on the Sports Hub regarding the Pats, especially from Felger, Mazz, Bertrand and Jones is bashing the team and Kraft far more than they deserve. Does he really want to reward them for that?

          3. I’ve wondered if the bashing is because they don’t get the access to the team that WEEI gets. WEEI gets the greatest coach ever and Felger gets their newspaper guy Paul Perillo. Talk about sloppy seconds!

        2. Well if he goes on T&R he’d have to explain things like the forward pass and why he chose the #12. Even Boomer sounds like he’d rather have a root canal than talk to Fred Toucher about ANYTHING, especially football. There’s only one show he would even entertain going on and that’s with Zolak. 985 may be the flagship but they really do a horseshit job covering the team outside of Beatle and Zo. Plus the team has a much longer history with ‘EEI than the Sports Hub. The attention WEEI gives the team on Monday’s and Friday’s blows TSH out of the water.

  18. Looks like BB is not taking the final eight weeks of the season lying down….the strength and conditioning coach was axed today. That makes two down, how many to go?


      1. Bill the coach need to fire Bill the GM!!!!!! He’s killing Bill the coach…..and he might be killing Independent George, too! Worlds are colliding!!

  19. Interesting read talking about two locals, Bill Simmons and Katie Nolan, and how the “new” in media are more personality driven. “Trust” has always been a big thing with the media, but as it’s become more shill and sellout with networks, I think a big part of the media future is personal brands like this. I’d credit someone like Howard Stern or Rush, though, if I looked back at some of the roots. This also goes against the “nobody bigger than the mouse” ESPN style out there. Not many have left and become successful but they also have kicked out a number who have.

    1. Clay Travis? Really? Guy BLATANTLY rips off Barstool. Portnoy and Big Cat have called him out on it and he acts like he doesn’t know what they’re talking about (despite him being a Stoolie by his own admition.). Outkick The Coverage is basically Barstool South.

      1. I didn’t post as some “these people rule, dude”

        He’s one of the big names out there like Simmons, even King’s MMQB, that has a personal brand and people love (or hate).

    2. This is silly. Upton Sinclair, Edward R Morrow, Walter Cronkite, Howard Cosell, Pete Hamill, Sally Jenkins, Bob Ryan…heck even Dan Shaughnessy and the countless other famous reporters over the last 120 years all made a name for themselves and were promoted by their publications (or network) in a way that today we would describe as personal brand building. This is absolutely nothing new.

      1. All those built their names because of a trusted brand and a few you mention still write for those publications. It’s not an independent thing like the ones above have.

  20. This is day 4 of absolutely no sports talk radio. It’s been easier than I thought. I go into work yesterday and I see some guys are still fired up about the loss. I guess they were also ticked at Bill for throwing the OL coach under the bus…I don’t know anything about that. I can only assume that’s the narrative going on right now. i don’t know. Didn’t care. I said see you later and went about my work listening to a real cool podcast called “The Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know” and “The Fat Burning Man” to help me stay on my weight loss plan and there’s good new podcast from Nate Silver called “FiveThirtyEight Elections” getting my political fix. I feel like a more well rounded person going a few days not listening to sports troll radio.

    1. I clicked over to the CSNNE website last night, very briefly, just to check out coverage of the Celtics game since I wasn’t home to watch it on TV. I’m greeted by this sub-header near the bottom of the screen: “Mazz to Bill: I blame YOU for the Patriots’ failure this season” (or words to that effect). And that, my friends, is why you must avoid almost all sports media around here for at least two weeks after a Pats’ season-ending loss (in the regular season, there’s another game next week, so it’s OK to tune back in around Thursday). I mean, really? A baseball guy, and not even a very bright one at that, is calling out one of the five greatest coaches in NFL history because his team fell one play short of making it to their SEVENTH Super Bowl during his tenure? Got it—I’ve also got better things to do with my time, like watching paint dry.

      1. Bngo. Don’t reward their trolling with your time and money.

        “When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical.

        1. These guys on the radio are like the loud-mouthed kids who commanded attention at the middle school lunch table. Sharp tongued, opinionated, sometimes funny, often mean-spirited. They contributed nothing of substance other than to react to events around them, as opposed to physically doing or producing things. Just like those middle school loudmouths, they lose their power when we don’t listen.

          1. They’re very good at critizing the failures of others who perform while they’ve never even come close to having so much pressure put on them in any work environment.

        2. I don’t think you need to avoid ALL sports radio, just Felger and Mazz! I’m still listening to Dale, Holley, and Thornton. Best show in town, IMO. Don’t get the “troll” feeling from them at all.

          1. I felt it was best and I feel great. When Spring Training starts I’ll hop back in for some of the baseball coverage if there is any. Or will they still be reveling in the Fellowship of the Miserable.

    2. Wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the same people who are mad at Bill for firing the OL coach are the same people who a year or two ago when Dante Scarneccia retired were blasting the hire and saying we were doomed on the OL, much like how that coach who was from something like the North Dakota School of Mining & Technology gets roasted all the time by the media elite.

    1. It’s almost like Peter King is relieved that his team won’t have to do any more digging into this story – “We gave it a try. Didn’t see any rabbits. Oh, well.”

      1. It’s hard to find a rabbit when you’re not even willing to look down the hole in the first place. as someone else here has said, the only way this gets any legs is if MLB’s investigation finds the reports about its players to be legitimate. What is the NFL and the Manning media lickspittles going to say then? That he’s the ONLY person named in the report about which the accusations are untrue?

  21. Interesting point by Florio over @ PFT:

    No doubt you heard about the Wideman hit last night, since hockey is discussed here. However, I think the only reason it got more than a mention during the 20-min headline cuts was that he is a former Bruin.

    If something like this happened in the NFL, it would be the top story in
    all of sports, and it would be covered by the morning shows on the
    major network along with the evening newscasts.

    Hard to disagree.

  22. Anybody read the Chad Finn piece on Bob Socci? Ummm, wow. Bob doesn’t come off well, IMO. Reading his quotes you’d think he runs out of the tunnel next to Brady wearing eye black and a jersey. And why in the hell is a radio BPB guy going to the combine? Is he going to walk up to Bill and Ernie with a stack of notes and say “Check these guys out.” I find Socci to be a bit bland as a radio announcer but he just comes off as a hardo who really over values his importance to the team.

    1. Just did. This quote is a summation of what I don’t like about some in the latest generation of broadcasters: “increase my knowledge about the game…”

      Guys like Socci are bland because they’re broadcasting nerds first and foremost.

  23. Is it me or has Peyton’s midfield comments to BB gotten more run that the allegations that he took HGH. I think this is surreal. My daughter has a Dance Comp Super Bowl Sunday and I am seriously thinking of going and not watching the game. I can’t believe I typed that.

    1. I’m not watching. I am sticking to my post-Deflategate, over-the-top-punishment pledge to not watch a single NFL game that does not involve the Patriots, ever again. I’m serious. I just bought Civilization V and loaded it on my PC earlier this month — I’m starting a new game at around 5 p.m. on Feb. 7th, and playing for my usual 7 or 8 hours straight after that. Once I sense that the game-that-shall-not-be-mentioned is over, I’ll go over to “the internets” and seek out the final score. Eff Goodell. Eff Kensil. Eff “the other 31.” I’m done with that league (except for the Patriots, of course), unless there are radical changes and they remove the bullseye from BB’s and the Patriots’ backs. Besides, even if I hadn’t made that pledge, I couldn’t stand six more hours of Manning ballwashing, especially if it really is his Swan Song — it will be more sickening than eating at Chipotle.

      1. I love Civ 5. Great game… only fun in domination mode when you get to nuke the French.

        I also play Civ Rev on the iPhone… another great game.

        1. I played Civ. 2 for like, 10,000 hours back in the late 90s and early 2000s. I skipped over Versions 3 and 4, but after “2” became incompatible with newer PCs, I bought Civ. 5. I’m loving it. I’m still “learning” it, so to speak, because it’s so radically different from Civ. 2, so I haven’t gotten into playing other modes yet. I try to avoid nukes altogether when I play Civ., because Lord knows I got nuked enough times playing Civ. 2! I usually go for the science win — building the space ship, etc. But I really like the fact that you can win a cultural victory on Civ. 5, too. That’s a unique aspect of the game. So is being able to dominate the World Council and the UN if you compile enough delegates…I love ramming my resolutions down the other civilizations’ throats; it must be how Polian felt all those years on the Competition Committee.

          1. Hi TOny if you really Like civ 2 I would suggest you actually go get CIV 4 GOTY or what ever that comes with Beyond the Sword expansion which I’ll consider the Definitive version of Civilization of the Civ 1-3 style It map are squared based and still allow the Stacks of death, which the AI is much better at handling and providing a appropriate challenge, ideally civ 5 combat is better but the AI is TERRIBLE. Religion plays a more significant role, strategic role, and the diplomacy was more visible to understand what going on. And got the Fantastic Leonard Nimoy Voice over in the Civpedia. The cultural Victory was in civ 4 too, actually introduced in the 3rd one.

            Civ 5 changed the game significantly and reverted a lot of the game mechanics progress they made from civ 1 to civ 4, keeping some of it at a minimal level. I am hoping they will make up for it in CIV 6, other than the abomination that is Civilization Beyond Earth has me concerned.

    2. I hear you, but I can’t really get worked up about whether Manning took HGH five years ago.. I get that it’s more about the insane reaction to DG, but still….

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