Patriots & Super Bowl 46: Not the End of the World, Just Feels Like it

Vince Wilfork's involvement in the halftime show may have hurt the Patriots chances.

There were several articles last week about silver linings to the Patriots’ Super Bowl loss.  I’ve given this way too much thought, and there’s no silver lining.  It hurts.  It sucks.  It’s the worst outcome imaginable and I began fearing it over a month ago.  It just feels wrong.

Why should the Giants and their fans get to celebrate because they were lucky enough to recover five straight fumbles in the postseason?

Why should they get to celebrate because every time Eli Manning throws an interception, he throws it sooo bad that two defenders have a shot at it and run into each other, allowing the ball to fall safely to the ground.  Why should they get to celebrate because Rob Ninkovich left a half second early on a crucial 3rd down stop?  Why should they get to celebrate because Wes Welker nearly missed reigning in a slightly mis-thrown ball by Tom Brady? Why should they have a parade because Bernard Kryptonite Pollard ruined Rob Gronkowski’s dream season?

The last 20 minutes (~4 minutes of game time) of the Super Bowl were agonizing.  That Giants’ last drive felt like forever. I begged them to let the Giants score once in field goal range as much to give the offense another shot as to get the frigging thing over with. Unbearable.

I found myself longing for the quick death of Aaron Boone’s 2003 ALCS dagger in the heart.

It was over in a flash.  The 2004 ALCS had some ridiculously long moments of pure agony like when Tim Wakefield was pitching with the game on the line and Jason Varitek looked like he was trying to catch flies with chopsticks.

I suppose the Celtics loss to the Lakers in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals was pretty agonizing.  Another Boston sports team felled by the ill-timed loss of their big beast.  Kendrick Perkins.  Rob Gronkowski.  Lakers. Giants.  New York. L.A. !@#$%^&*

That loss couldn’t touch this one in level of pain though.  The Celtics had handled the Lakers just two years earlier for their 17th title. The Lakers were due to beat the Celtics in a Finals Game 7.

Super Bowl 46 gave us a sense of what it would’ve been like if the Yankees beat the Red Sox in game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.

Now, it is completely different in that we have numerous championships under our belt now and the Red Sox had not won anything in 86 years at that point. Nonetheless, losing to a New York team that had shattered the Patriots perfect season 4 years earlier after being SOOOOOOO close to putting the game away is about as painful as it gets.

I shut the TV off as soon as Brady’s last gasp pass hit that nausea-inducing, blue, fucking endzone.  That damned blue endzone gave me chills when I first saw it before Super Bowl 46. At least Plaxico Burress wasn’t on this team.

Yeah, it fucking sucks.  Another Super Bowl win for the Giants that was within inches of becoming a 4th Super Bowl win for the Pats. This is right up there with the worst losses we’ll ever experience. Factor in that the Patriots had the game in hand and that it’s the 2nd straight Super Bowl loss to the same New York team, and this is pretty close to the bottom of the barrel.

Sure, 2007 was the perfect season, but for some reason that doesn’t bother me as much now.  It’s losing to New York, Eli, and Coughlin AGAIN that is stuck in my craw.

Silver linings? That doesn’t do justice to the pain of this loss.  It’s a euphemism for “let’s pretend that something good came out of this.” No thanks. BUT, we have a choice to make as fans.  We can choose to try to fathom the unfathomable agony that was the end of Super Bowl 46, or we can focus on the things that brought us incredible excitement and happiness in the process.

We also have some things to look forward to as Patriots fans.  We have, yet again, the outside chance that Bill Belichick will draft some players that we’ve heard of and that we do not have to research to get excited about.

What if the Patriots draft a pass rusher and a wide receiver with those two first round draft picks (27th from Saints, and 31st)?

Holy shit that’s an exciting prospect!  We have the prospect of an even better team next year.  A defense that can get off the field and close out games.  An offense that can stretch the field vertically.  Brandon Lloyd?  Justin Blackmon (dream a little)?

I’m also dreaming that Sterling Moore becomes the play-making secondary man that we saw flashes of in the playoffs. That would be a huge and unexpected bonus.

That’s what we have – anticipation.  We have the experience of anticipating the game, or the next big thing for our team.  We also have amazing moments from this season to look back on. It sounds cheesy as hell, but it’s true.  The event itself almost always disappoints or in some circumstances, rips your heart out, like Super Bowl 46. Yet, after all was said and done, and the pain/confusion had subsided for a few seconds, I thought, “wow, aside from losing that game in the most painful way conceivable, that was incredible.”

We had two awesome weeks of anticipation and excitement leading up to the Super Bowl, and we got to watch the Patriots dominate nearly two thirds of the sport’s biggest game.

Yeah, they blew it and the Giants managed to score the last points of the game, but we still have those moments. The Patriots looked like the best team in football for a large part of Super Bowl 46.  The Giants just scored last.

Let’s focus on the good times. The less we let this bother us, the less the rest of the country gets to enjoy it. It’s the only way to exercise some control over the situation, which is typically the most frustrating part of being a fan — the lack of control.

So, I’m making every effort to say, “Fuck it. Patriots are still awesome.  We have the best quarterback in football.  The best coach. The best nose tackle.  The best tight ends. And we’ll be back next year with some shiny new parts via the draft and free agency.  It was a hell of a year.”

After Brady’s TD pass to Woodhead to close the first half, I marched around my living room chanting “WOODHEAD! WOODHEAD! WOODHEAD!” at the top of my lungs.  It was amazing.  It felt so good to beat the shit out of the Giants for a large part of the Super Bowl.

The drive to start the 3rd quarter was another orgasmic experience.  It came back to me now that I yelled, “DOMINATION STATION!” After Aaron Hernandez bounced off Chase Blackburn and into the endzone for the Patriots 16th straight point, my living room was ecstasy-filled (the natural kind).

Nothing like slapping fives so many times that your hand is burning but you still give it your all on that last one because your adrenaline is pumping and you are fully sharing that moment with everyone in the room.

So we have that.  We have the anticipation, the moment, and the memories.  I’m doing my best now to focus on the celebration.  The post-Cundiff-field-goal-miss celebratory pig-pile in my living room is a memory I’ll never willingly forget.

I’ll never forget Brady potentially sacrificing life and limb when he dove over the top of the Baltimore Ravens defense.

Brady opened himself up to vicious shots from some of the nastiest linebackers in the NFL. Brady’s got HUGE BALLS, and anyone that questions his drive, commitment, or fire, is either an idiot or a hater (likely all of the above).

The only way to stomach another Super Bowl loss to the Giants is to not frame it as another loss to the Giants.

It was an amazing collection of moments.  As Patriots fans, we know that every year our team has a great chance to be in BIG games. The cost of that is that we’re going to be on the front lines of a lot of BIG losses. You’re not going to win them all.  You’re gonna get kicked in the balls on a repeated basis.

BUT when the defense recovers that fumble, or Welker or Branch make that catch, or Brady makes that throw, or the defense makes that stop, or Gronkowski is healthy and gets to one of those hail marys, it will make all those BIG losses fade into distant memory.

The only photo of Super Bowl 46 I could stomach courtesy of Beacon Radio