And now we return to our regularly scheduled coverage of the NFL preseason:
It didn’t happen. The New England Patriots came one stinking game from historic perfection. Thirty-six seconds from it.
Now they must let it go. They must forget the shocking 17-14 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. They must purge themselves of the indelible images of Eli Manning slipping miraculously from Richard Seymour’s grasp, and of the football sitting atop David Tyree’s helmet, inexplicably, even as he and defender Rodney Harrison crashed to the turf.
They know they must let it all go, and they say they must let it all go. Says Tom Brady: “We’ve won, and we’ve moved on. Now we’ve lost, and we’ve moved on, too.”
But how can you? Even for a team that has all but perfected (sorry, bad phrase) forgetting the previous season and starting each year anew, the task has to be daunting.
19-0. It was right there.
The hangover from merely losing a Super Bowl is debilitating enough. Only three of the previous 10 Super Bowl losers – seems almost unfair to associate the Pats with that word, doesn’t it? – reached the playoffs the following season.
For numerous reasons, these Pats, hung over as they may be, should buck that trend. They’ve made changes, getting younger at linebacker and better in the secondary. They’re trying to reinforce an offensive line that was suddenly a sieve against the attacking Giants.
They kissed good-bye to Asante Samuel, who, for all the good he did on the play, might as well have been munching popcorn as Tyree came down with the ball in front of him.
Bill Belichick has never been wary of change. Only nine players remain from the team that won the first of their three Super Bowls during the 2001 season. Clearly, he’s not one to, well, stand Pat.
He’s said the Patriots “all have to start at the bottom.”
That would be 0-0.
Moving on from there begins Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens.