February 9, 2012
This is not 2008. Whenever a team loses the Superbowl their fans have a right to be disappointed. The New England Patriots lost to the New York Giants just like they did five years ago. New England fans have a right to be upset and other fans have a right to rub it in. When the team that has been lording it over the NFL for over a decade goes down, it’s understandable that people want to kick them. However they need to put a stop to all the “choke” talk. The Patriots did not choke, they lost to a better team. Patriots fans have a right to be disappointed, but they really shouldn’t be.
In 2008 the Patriots rolled into the Superbowl at 18-0 and then inexplicably did not show up for the big game. They lost in the biggest upset in NFL history. The most crushing loss any fan could imagine. The unstoppable Patriots stumbled on the last mile and walked away empty handed. In 2008 New England lost the perfect season to a team they could have beaten by three scores. It was unbelievable, painful, and impossible to forget. However this is not 2008. New England did not choke. They didn’t squander this one away. They were beaten by a better team.
A quick look at these two teams rosters shows that the New York Giants are better at almost every single position. They are better at receiver. They are better at running back. They are better on the offensive and defensive line. They are better at linebacker. They are better in the secondary. They are probably even better on special teams. The only place where the Patriots have the edge is at quarterback, and even then it’s not exactly a landslide. The 2008 Patriots lost a game they should have won. The 2012 Patriots lost to a better team.
It is frustrating for Patriots fans because the opportunities were there. A few more plays and a few different bounces and the result could easily have been different. The Patriots easily could have won the game, but they ended up losing to a better team. New England has good players on offense, but they don’t have a player capable of making the catch that Mario Manningham did. They have good players on defense, but they don’t have a player capable of winning one on one matchups the way Justin Tuck did. At the end of the day the Giants are just more talented than the Patriots.
Again it’s hard because the Patriots did miss some big opportunities. However people saying that Brady and the Patriots choked are simply not giving the Giants the credit they deserve. Mario Manningham made and incredible catch that no one on the Patriots could have made. Eli Manning matched Brady and Eli’s team is better. It’s really as simple as that. Everyone in New England is disappointed, but they really shouldn’t be. There is shame in losing to a team that you should beat, there is no shame in failing to steal one from a team that should beat you.
All in all Bill Belichick got everything he possibly could out of this Patriots squad. The lockout, injuries, miss-steps in free agency forced the hooded genius to adjust on the fly and the Patriots were still within three minutes of a title. They missed on Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco, but struck gold with Brian Waters, Andre Carter, and Mark Anderson. They have built a strong nucleus of young players in Pat Chung, Brandon Spikes, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Devin McCourtey, Nate Solder and Kyle Love who are surrounded by the veteran leadership of Brady, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Deion Branch. They have all their key players locked up next year with the exception of Wes Welker who isn’t going anywhere. They have significant cap space and four picks in the first two rounds of the 2012 draft. This team is not going to fall of the map.
The Patriots will be back. They went as far as they possibly could this season and came up a few plays short. It’s disappointing but it’s a learning experience and they should come back as a stronger group. As long as their young players continue to develop, and Brady doesn’t blow up his knee in week one, this team will be dangerous next year. Few saw them as legitimate title contenders this year, yet there they were three minutes from a Superbowl. Next year they will be better. Next year they will be title contenders in every sense of the word. It’s disappointing that they couldn’t get there this season, but they lost to a better team. When New England was winning Superbowls they were better than every team they faced. This year they weren’t and they lost. Next year the results may be different.
Patriot fans should be upset but shouldn’t dwell on it too long. There is no shame in losing to a better team if you learn from it and come back stronger and smarter. The message from coach Belichick after the game was “stick together.” If they do that another championship should be in the making.
That’s the way I see it.