Monday, January 21, 2013

The Mourning After

I’m wearing black today, OK? It has nothing to do with MLK Day, everything to do with the Patriots’ loss to the Ravens last night. I couldn’t help feeling that midnight was tolling for this proud franchise, with its three Super Bowl championships and five Super Bowl visits in this young century. That was around 10pm when my brother and I snapped off the TV and said good-night with two minutes left and the Pats down 28-13.

We knew three or four weeks ago, when the Giants bowed out, that this year wouldn’t see a repeat of last. Now I’m wondering if we’ll ever see a repeat at all, like any one of the Super Bowl victories in 2001, 2003, and 2004. Not in the Belichek-Brady era, I don’t think.

That’s because—

1. Belichek and Brady are getting old together. That’s sweet when you’re talking a happy marriage like mine, but not when you’re competing with tandems like Harbaugh-Flacco or Harbaugh-Kaepernick. It’s a young man’s game today. Belichek is 60, and Tom Terrific will be 36 next season, older than Troy Aikman when he dropped a ball and picked up a mic.

2. It may be heretical to write, and I’m sorry, but Wes Welker should retire before he is dubbed the Pats’ Bill Buckner. He dropped a pass in last year’s Super Bowl that would have sealed the game for New England. Last night, he dropped an absolutely critical, drive-lengthening pass in the exact same area of the field. The Pats were driving and might have gone ahead, but somewhere near the left sideline in the opponent’s 20s, Wes picked the worst time to reapply bozo grease to his fingers.

3. This may have had something to do with getting his bell rung on a previous play. About which matter, the Pats just didn’t look as fearsome as the Ravens. I mean, I know Ray Lewis went way over the top with his manic, teary silent prayer while the National Anthem was playing, but with apologies to Pete Carroll, the Ravens were pumped and jacked, while the Pats were dumped and hijacked. All night long. Poor Steven Ridley may never remember what happened to him. His concussive collision was a scary moment for a kid who was money this year. And his fumble was the end.

4. The injury bug that hit the Celtics in the NBA finals of 2010 passed from Kendrick Perkins to Rob Gronkowski. Remember how the Celts had a real serious chance against the Lakers until Perk went down and with him their defense? Kobe and the Gangsters in Gold kicked the Green in game 7. Well, if the Pats have Gronk in last year’s Super Bowl, they arguably don’t need Welker, with or without the grease. And if the Pats had either Gronk or especially Aqib Talib, who went out with a pulled hammy in the first quarter, they might have won last night. Anquan Boldin maybe doesn’t make both of those fourth-quarter TDs with Talib in the game.

But that, boys and girls, is football.

The good news is I go to Florida next week for a weekend croquet tournament (Jan 31–Feb 3) and I don’t have to worry about missing the start of the Big Game on Sunday evening. Also, my blood pressure will be 30 points lower.

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