After years of skepticism, I finally have proof that alien abduction exists – Sunday’s Patriots/Ravens debacle. The Ravens showed up and so did the Body Snatchers, cleverly disguised as Our Boys. However, the clues were there to be seen.
Does anyone actually believe that was the real Tom Brady out there on the field, lobbing interception after turn-over? (Giselle, lock the front door because whoever’s coming home is NOT your husband!) Randy Moss ran like a guy heading for the proctologist’s office.
I don’t think the Pod People had quite managed to inhabit the bodies of Edelman and Wilfork but they certainly were in control of the defense. There were times when Wes Welker was the only lively thing out there. And really, when Bill Bellichik strolled out of the locker room in a tuxedo, well, that nailed it.
Seriously, it was painful. Painful! Ouch, ouch, OUCH. It was painful to see such inept play. Painful to hear boos – boos!! – from the fans. Painful to think of how the mighty have fallen. But before we start consigning the Dynasty signs to the trash heap and sending funeral wreaths out to Gillette, I think we need to hold off on the dirges and the elegies and take a step back.
The Patriots, after all, won their division, the seventh time in eight years. Despite seriously inconsistent play through the season, they were frequently brilliant. Someone once said, “You’re as good as your best work” meaning that’s the attainable high and if that’s the truth, then the Pats had it in them to be very good indeed. They struggled with grievous injuries throughout the fall, including a still-wounded quarterback, and the loss of Wes Welker was a body blow to the whole team.
Randy Moss remains a mystery. I don’t mean to be an apologist for him and his baffling performance, but I will say that if he were a woman I might suspect that, as so often happens with us, our bodies take our emotions in directions we wouldn’t necessarily choose to go, and vice versa. Just sayin’. I simply can’t imagine that what’s going on with him is intentional, that he’s sulking or peevish or just plain bored. I hope he figures it out. And I hope he gets it fixed by next summer.
I’m not making excuses – the team as a whole should have found it in themselves to rise to the occasion. Even if they lost it should have been with integrity and heart and a valiant spirit (after all, who really can fault the Green Bay Packers after that amazing game with Arizona?).
Obviously, the Pats have their work cut out for them between now and the start of the new season. They can’t get a do-over but they desperately need a make-over. They need to get healthy, plug the holes and find better ways to adjust to changing circumstances. I hope they challenge their assumptions from the top down and the bottom up. I hope the painful lessons of this year serve them well, not as the weight of defeat but as an engine for inspiration.
Dynasties are made to be broken – otherwise the game wouldn’t be so much fun. But empires lost can still be empires regained: just think of teams, like the Steelers or the Celtics, who have come back from times of drought to recapture past glory.
It used to be that the very mention of the Pats struck fear into opponents. Back in the day, when Tom Brady had a couple of minutes to take his team into the end zone it was just assumed he’d get the job done. Those days might be gone – who knows. But championships can be cyclical and what was lost can still be found. If the Pats can take an unflinching look at what didn’t work this season, and maybe more importantly what did, then I think we all might be singing a happy tune next year.