Yesterday's loss was very painful for me as a Pats fan. With such a young team, I didn't expect us to go 14-2 this year, but I expected us to win 10-12 games, get and maybe win a home playoff game, and have a good year with lots of growth and improvement. But when we became so dominant, and then lost in the first playoff game to the JETS, my heart was heavy. Fortunately, there are still reasons for optimism in New England, and this article is supposed to be a guide to getting over the loss and looking ahead. The Plan after the jump.
1. Watch America's Game, circa 2001, 2003, and 2004. I think a heartwarming trip down memory lane will remind Pats fans that we're blessed to have had as much past success as we have. No team has won more championships in my lifetime (Dallas is tied, but I wasn't very self-aware, let alone NFL-aware, at this time). 14 teams have never won the Super Bowl. 4 have never even made it TO the Super Bowl. No fan has had as many reasons to be proud of their team as us since the Cold War, and we have to remember how lucky we are.
2. Go play some Madden NFL. Start a franchise with the Pats. Win some Super Bowls. Run up the score against the Jets every chance you get. Dominate the league, break some records, and make the Pats the team of the 2010s. And the 2020s. Put a dozen players in the HoF. Yeah, it's not real, but it's a nice escape. And it's a lot of fun.
3. Be proud of our organization. So we lost. No team is perfect, but for the most part, the Patriots handled the lead up to this game, and the aftermath of the loss, with class and professionalism. Anyone who has a daughter or a sister out there would be proud as hell for her to bring home one of the players of this team. Again, no team in the NFL is packed with flawless personalities from top to bottom, but I challenge anyone to name a team that has as many individuals of decency and character on the roster. And that goes all the way up, from Belichick who privately does a great deal of charity work that doesn't get much press (he has done a lot of appearances and speeches with Jim Brown specifically) to obviously the Krafts who have a tremendous positive impact on the community. This team could have gone 3-13 and I'd still be extremely proud of them.
4. Look to the future. I know, after such a great season, we wanted a good playoff run bad. But take a look at this roster. This is a team that will undoubtedly get better, if you can picture that. Half of the players on this team are rookies or sophomores, and we have another motherlode of draft picks for this April. Bill has been rebuilding this team from the inside out for the last couple years, and it's a testament to our great coaching and key veteran players (Brady, Light, Wilfork, etc) that we've been good to the point of dominant even while grooming a team to light up the next decade. We didn't load up on high mileage veterans, only to fall apart after a couple of seasons of success. Look at the Vikings. A lot of players in decline, a lot of free agents set to walk out the door. Look at the Jets. Half of their team is due to hit free agency. New England was built to last, and I can't wait for next year.
Keep these details in mind, follow these steps, and maybe the bitter pill prescribed by our archrivals in Jersey will be a little easier to swallow.