After watching the Atlanta Falcons dismantle the Giants, 34-0, I splashed some cold water on my face and gave myself a hard look in the mirror. “This can only mean that something bad will happen to the Patriots tonight,” I thought. “The football Gods would never shine on me this bright.”
As expected, the Patriots were then handed their fourth loss of the season. What a day in my NFL life—as I explained to a friend, I’ve recently come to realize that I don’t have anything resembling a second-favorite NFL team. I like watching the Patriots, my favorite team, and the Giants, my least favorite team, infinitely more than any of the other games on TV.
And as the dust settled after what was a crazy game for the Pats, realizations about the impact of both games began to creep in—the Giants are now only “in the hunt” for the playoffs, and the Patriots’ road to the Super Bowl will be played away from Foxboro.
While this certainly hurts the Patriots more than it helps it them, I definitely see a significant silver lining in the outcome of yesterday’s game.
Everything that possibly could go wrong did for the Pats, who found themselves down 31-3 before they knew it. I was ready to pack it in at that point, but as my roommate pointed out, the Pats had a good test in front of them. They’ve shown the NFL that they can blow out the best teams when they are firing on all cylinders. But they haven’t had to show that they can fight back when they’re pinned with their backs on the mat.
The Patriots showed yesterday that they have that fight, which undoubtedly will be needed come playoff time. Twenty-eight unanswered points got them right back in the mix and answered that question pretty quickly. But in ultimately losing the game the Patriots also received a gut check. Sure, they can crush the No. 1 team in the NFL, but they can also surely be beaten.
Many, including myself, believe that the Patriots ultimately hurt themselves in not losing a game the year they went 16-0. They needed that gut check to understand that they needed to bring their absolute best, week in and week out. I think they got the memo yesterday, and they saw firsthand what Tom Brady is capable of if needed.
Sure, there will likely be no bye week for the Patriots, and they’ll have to deal with the beds at the Ramada. But for a team that’s playing so well, keeping its momentum rolling (despite the loss) isn’t such a bad thing. And knowing that they only lost to the best defense in the league by a single score when all hell broke loose has to give them some additional degree of confidence.
Last but not least, let’s give Colin Kaepernick his due—the guy was absolutely as electric as advertised, very much living up to the hype. Let’s just hope the Patriots get another crack at the Niners come February.
Geoff Roberts is the Founder & Managing Editor of howiGit.com, a New England Patriots blog.