Thanks you, Pats
I had major trouble sleeping last night, tossing and turning and suffering flashbacks and mulling the significance of a 53-year-old man tossing and turning and suffering flashbacks over the loss
of a televised football game. It’s not like I just lost a pal on Omaha Beach.
But I did take a lot of solace, and I really did, in thinking the following: If the Patriots weren’t the Patriots, they would have been called a Cinderella team this year -- and a few thousand die-hard fans would have been at Logan this morning welcoming the Pats back from Indy. The Pats were a team that never should have been in the Super Bowl this year. How many practice-squad, undrafted, walk-on and last-minute call-up players did they tape together this year to go 13-3 in the regular season and plow through two teams to get to the Super Bowl, only to lose it on one pass (the Welker pass, dummies, not that other
pass)? The Pats played way above themselves. They were scrappy, lucky winners. They managed to surprise almost every week. No wonder Bill loved this team so much. So, thank you, Pats. It was a great season, until those last four minutes last night, of course.
Some other thoughts:
-- This year’s loss was heartbreaking. But not nearly as heartbreaking as 2008. Several other armchair generals confirmed the same sentiment to me after last night’s game. The 2008 loss was so crushing because: A.) The Pats seemed to have that game in the bag even more than they did last night. B.) The 2008 loss destroyed the Pats’ perfect season, making it that much more painful and suspect to choke accusations. C.) After going 3-0 in Super Bowls under Belichick and Brady, Pats fans were a little cocky, if not spoiled, when it came to expectations five years ago. D.) Let’s face it, in 2008, Eli Manning hadn’t yet earned the respect that he enjoys today, making his clutch Super Bowl win in 2008 more than a little jarring. E.) Few people underestimated the Giants and Eli going into last night’s game.
-- Giants fans will always relieve Manningham’s reception in the Giant’s last march down the field last night. Patriot fans will always remember the non-receptions in their second-to-last march down the field last night.
-- Eli’s in the “elite” quarterback category. OK? I can’t believe the whining over this. He’s generally played great since 2008. No doubt. But there was an erratic nature to his and the Giants’ play since 2008 and before the last quarter of this season. He just needed a little more confirmation before people let the NY media elevate him to his brother’s and Brady’s status. Now he’s there. Two Super Bowls speak for themselves. He’s in the elite. So stop the whining.
-- As much as Belichick deserves credit for stitching together an effective rag-tag defense this year, he also deserves some blame for having to stitch together a rag-tag defense this year. Let’s hope he does better in the off-season rebuilding the D. They need it. The offense is in good shape heading into next season, as far removed as next year may seem to Pats fans this morning. But the defense needs a lot of work. They ain't going to be surprising anyone next year.
-- Speaking of next year, I'm already looking forward to it, assuming there's isn't a surprise Belichick or Brady retirement announcement. Going into yesterday's game, I was tempted to predict that either Belichick or Brady would use the cover of a Super Bowl win to call it quits. I don't know why I thought that. It was just a hunch.Update
-- From Reader No. 1: "Everybody hurts. But no one hurts more than the quarterback.
" ... Actually, a somewhat odd component of my restless post-game sleep last night was feeling bad about how Brady and other Pats were going to be feeling bad. They were a great group of guys this year.Update II
-- Yes, I'm aware that I kept referring to the last Pats-Giants Super Bowl as being in 2007. It was 2008. Fixed the references above, thanks to a couple of alert readers. I keep thinking in terms of the 2007 regular season. (I still sometimes refer to the Pats 2002 Super Bowl as the 2001 Super Bowl, btw. I'll probably make the same mistake with this year's Super Bowl, though I'd rather forget about it in general).