A Rare, Inexcusable Loss A Reminder That Even The Patriots Are Mortal

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 29: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to the preseason game against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

That was garbage. Complete garbage.

You can count the bad losses of the Belichick/Brady era on about two hands, you can count the inexcusable losses on one. You can chalk that game as the latter: truly inexcusable.

They had no business losing to the putrid Eagles in the first place, but they didn’t just lose, they got smoked, booed off the home turf they so often dominate, particularly late in the year. It was how they lost that made it so maddening.

A blocked punt after a sleepwalking through a two minute drill, a 100 yard interception return, then a punt return for a touchdown. It was as gift-wrapped a victory as Chip Kelly’s hapless group of losers will ever get. Merry Christmas, fellas.

Oh, and let’s not even get into that ridiculous surprise rugby onside kick. What in the world was that?

Cut the crap, Bill. We get it, you’re smarter than everyone else. Play the game.

Last night was an example of how other teams around the league lose every week. The Patriots rarely, if ever, lose games like that. That’s what makes them so good. In fact, it’s so rare that it doesn’t seem like it’s even possible.

But it is, and even the great Patriots are mortal.

8 days ago, the Pats were in complete control of the AFC playoff picture. They had a two game lead in the standings on Denver and Cincinnati, and led the Broncos 21-7 in the fourth quarter. It seemed like they were going to finish that game and coast to the playoffs, just trying to avoid the injury bug. But since then, it’s all gone wrong (just ask Special Teams Coordinator Joe Judge. Don’t put these last two weeks on your resume, bro).

Now just over a week later, the Pats sit in third place in the AFC, on the outside looking in at the first round bye they desperately need to get healthy. Thanks to yesterday’s loss, the road to the Super Bowl no longer heads down Route 1 in Foxboro. No, right now it goes through the one place you don’t want to go if you’re the Patriots: Mile High. If Tom Brady and the Pats have a house of horrors, its Mile High, where they have a losing record and have dropped two playoff games to the Broncos in the last 10 years.

Yesterday proved there are some chinks in the armor. Small chinks, but they exist, and we’ve been seeing them develop over the last month. Yes, they’ll get their weapons back, but can they protect Tom Brady? This offensive line has gotten their quarterback killed for the past three games and no reinforcements are on the way. The fat guys up front need to play better, it’s that simple. Their inability to run the ball is becoming alarming, a combination of poor offensive line play and a lack of talent in the backfield. Dion Lewis isn’t walking through that door, Patriots fans.

This isn’t all doom and gloom, so don’t take it that way. They’re still one of the truly elite teams in the league, perhaps even still the best. Denver and Cincinnati play in Week 16, meaning if the Pats win out they’re guaranteed at least a bye. Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski will return and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. Slip truth serum to the rest of the conference, and they’ll tell you that the one team they don’t want to encounter in January is the Patriots. Sure, there are chinks in the armor, but that makes them no different from the rest of the competition.

You’re never as good as you look or as bad as you look in any given game in the NFL, but man, did the Pats look bad yesterday. So bad it’s hard to believe.

Matt McCarthy is the sports anchor for the Cape Cod Morning News on 107.5 WFCC, and a news anchor/reporter for 99.9 The Q, Cape Country 104, and Ocean 104.7. He can also be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston.

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