(Photo from Boston.com)
I don’t know how you guys feel about it but I’m perfectly willing to blame yesterday’s travesty on Bill Belichick’s choice of headwear. Because it’s really hard to look fearsome or intimidating while sporting a pom pom hat. It’s just fact. The hoodie, as always, was a nice touch but the man is supposed to be a robot, impenetrable to cold, heat or human emotion. A kicky chapeau is not really the rallying cry we’re looking for here, Bill. Maybe next time, wear a hard hat.
As I explained to HJ this morning while moping around the apartment and trying to release the tension that’s been residing between my shoulder blades for a week, it’s one thing if your team loses a game that they played well and hard. It’s one thing if they are merely outplayed or outcoached. It’s one thing if the other team just has one more play in them. In any of those cases, you can at least go into the off-season confident in the fact that your team put it’s best foot forward and it just wasn’t enough. But yesterday wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like that at all. Yesterday, the Patriots were hapless, hopeless and, at times, downright embarassing. Which is not to take anything away from the Ravens who capitalized on every mistake the Patriots made. Which were many. In fact, the Ravens were playing like the Patriots of old. Which, in addition to angering me, made me wonder what had happened to our defensive-minded football team. The one who used to turn an opponent’s weaknesses against them and forced them to make mistakes. Because that is certainly not the team we have now.
And yes, Wes Welker was hurt and he was brought out for inspirational talks prior to the game, looking for all the world like Tiny Tim on his crutches. But you know what? It didn’t work. And I’m sure it wasn’t for lack of trying on Welker’s part but there’s only so much an injured slot receiver can do. And while I wouldn’t have put it past Welker to drammatically toss aside his crutches, rip open his jacket to reveal his familiar #83 jersey and take the field in a gutsy and heartrending show of scrappiness, I’m not even sure that could have saved the Patriots. They just did not have it in them.
For his part, I hope that Julian Edelmen’s mom taped the game as her son appeared to be the only player on the field even trying yesterday and he deserves his own highlight reel. But he’s the only one.
After the game, I got an email from Greta in Baltimore, “Hi, Muffin,” she said, “I’m really sorry it had to go down like that. We can still make Old Bay Bloody Marys and curse the name of the Irsay family next week, right?” To which I replied, “Dude? Take those fuckers DOWN.” Because at this point, I will root for anyone who plays Indianapolis. And if there’s anyone who hates the Colts more than the Patriots, it’s the Ravens. So the enemy of the enemy is my friend and all that. Plus, early in the game yesterday they cut to commercial and it starred – surprise, surprise – Peyton Manning and I yelled, “This has nothing to do with you! Take your goofy forehead and hillbilly face and go away until next week!” My point being, I clearly have some unresolved issues with Peyton Manning and if Ray Lewis wants to take care of that for me, that’d be delightful.
Look, I’d be lying if I said that I thought the Patriots were going all the way this year and that this season would finally redeem the 2007 Super Bowl loss. I never really felt that way. All season something just seemed off. The timing wasn’t right or there were undisclosed injuries or questionable coaching moves. Perhaps Randy and Tommy are still working on getting back in synch after missing last season together. Perhaps some of them have lost a step. Perhaps Billiam really is getting a bit too big for his britches and needs to hire himself some coordinators STAT so as to take away some of the coaching autonomy which is clearly not good for him. At the very least, he needs someone to choose better hats.
At this point, we’re not left with much. Who knows how long Welker’s recovery will take or what shape the team will take next year? And as Brady’s genetically-bred miracle children aren’t quite big enough yet to run a slant route, we’ll have to wait a big longer for the kids to go into the family business. For now, I guess we’ll just have to watch the rest of the playoffs and root for Baltimore. Or don’t. Or start watching hockey. Or basketball. Or take up knitting. Whatever we do, it’ll take a while to get this bad taste out of our mouths.