What happened? Did the Patriots not realize what was at stake? Did the Patriots not realize that a loss would make it at least a decade between Super Bowl wins? The Patriots played poorly on defense and offense except for a few drives on offense. It basically took the Patriots until the fourth quarter to really get anything going offensively.
They seemed both unprepared and uninspired, which is not what anyone would have expected. The Patriots played poorly and the Broncos played well — that’s all you need to know.
The outcome of AFC Championship game doesn’t change my opinion on what a great job Bill Belichick did this season or that Tom Brady is better than Peyton Manning, and since the Patriots need more size at the wide receiver position, I still believe they don’t miss Wes Welker. That said, Welker’s cheap pick on Aquib Talib should have been flagged, and it’s making me wonder if I should dislike him.
I will continue to be upset about the Patriots not going to the Super Bowl, but I’m going to focus on how fun it has been to be a Patriots fan this season and for roughly the last decade and a half. Patriots fans don’t hope for a win each week or to make the playoffs — they expect it. The level of overall preparedness and consistency that the Patriots have shown since Bill Belichick and Brady have been in New England has been amazing.
This season, the Patriots had to deal with a number of season-ending injuries to key players, but they still made it to the AFC Championship game. If other teams had experienced those same losses at key positions, they would not have made it to their conference championship.
The Patriots have gone to five Super Bowls since the 2001 season, won three of them, and they have gone to the playoffs 11 out of the past 13 years including three straight trips to the AFC Championship game. One season the Patriots missed the playoffs was when Brady tore his ACL and MCL on the first drive of the 2008 season and missed the entire year — and the Patriots still went 11-5 with backup QB Matt Cassell.
Yes, they missed the playoffs, but not many teams can finish a season 11-5 with their backup QB. Other teams lose a future Hall of Fame quarterback like Brady and they are done for the season. Not so in New England.
I get that many football fans can’t stand New England fans, and I’m okay with that. The Patriots are about winning and if you’re a fan, that’s what you want. Patriots fans are staunch and sometimes obnoxious (myself probably included) supporters of their team, and the Patriots’ fan base is a fun one to be a part of.
Just know that I will be rooting for the NFC representative in the Super Bowl.