The Patriots are heading to Mile High against the best offense to come alive since the 2007 Patriots, for a chance to head to the superbowl. Though I should say the #1 seeded TEAM in the AFC, and for good measure the Pats have no been considered underdogs in this game.
If you were to tell me this will happen a few games ago, I would not have been surprised. If you were to ask me if we would be able to beat them, I would have said no. Not because I don't have faith in the team, but because I believe the injuries have taken their toll on us, and that Denver has at least a healthy, and very potent offense in which we would not be able to stop.
A list of what this team has been through:
1) No Hernandez
2) No Welker
3) No Woodhead
4) Gronk only in for a few games
5) Talib out a quarter of the year
6) Vereen out for about 8 games
7) Amendola out for a few games, and playing with a groin injury
8) Our starting outside WR is a rookie, who has been injured half a year
9) Our 2nd rookie WR, Thompkins, who has flashed well this year has been injured half the year
10) Brady has been sacked the most in his career. OL has been inconsistent throughout the year (recently been a ton better)
11) Vollmer out for the year, Mayo out for the year, Wilfork out for the year, Kelly out for the year, Spikes is now gone.
12) So many close games with last minute drives.
I no longer think that way now.
Isaac Sachs: Belief, like fear or love, is a force to be understood as we understand the Theory of Relativity and Principles of Uncertainty: phenomenon that determine the course of our lives. Yesterday, my life was headed in one direction. Today, it is headed in another. Yesterday I believed that I would never have done what I did today. These forces that often remake time and space, that can shape and alter who we imagine ourselves to be, begin long before we are born and continue after we perish. Our lives and our choices, like quantum trajectories, are understood moment to moment. At each point of intersection, each encounter suggests a new potential direction.
- Cloud Atlas
I am using a couple quotes from Cloud Atlas, not only because I think it is a excellent movie, but because I think it associates with myself and the team in a way.
The Pats have been altered throughout the year. Battled so many injuries, with rookies and backups stepping up and filling in. Who would have thought that our running game, by the end of the year, would be brutal and near dominating. Who would have thought we could win games WITHOUT Brady throwing for 300 yards and scoring over 30 points? The past few games teams stacked the box, yet Blount and Ridley still churned out yardage. Who would have thought our defense, after so many injuries, would be able to step up and make impact plays from rookies and backups?
Mind over Matter.
Robert Frobisher: All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention, if only one can first conceive of doing so.
The mental toughness of this team is insane. I've changed my mind about this team. I think the Pats are now the favorites to win this game. The team just looks like they want it more. With everything that has happened to them, it only takes a mentally strong team to overcome and do excellent job playing for near 60 minutes. Belichick and Brady has EVERYONE buying into what they are selling, and you could see it on the field.
And they also still have enough talent there. Collins looks to have emerged as a swiss army knife on defense, able to pass rush, cover, set the edge. After the injury to Spikes we all thought our run defense would suffer in turn. Chandler Jones and Nink both provide good pass rush as well. Hightower and Collins have both been great in stepping up in place, and I can't forget Fletcher as I thought he had a real good game yesterday. Logan Ryan has stepped in as a good cover CB in the slot and outside. Dennard and Talib looked healthy last game, and having a to 3 FS back there is a treat to have. Arrington being good in the slot.
On offense our OL looks to be clicking finally. Blount and Ridley are doing work on the ground, and it's great to have Vereen back there catching passes and running from the shotgun.
What both units have in common is physical and mental toughness. This is not a finesse team. This is a team that will try and out-physical you in every facet, and beat you down to the dirt. The mental toughness I believe plays a strong part in this, as you must believe you can beat anyone and out-play anyone in order to even dream of achieving it. For as young a team as the Pats have, especially on defense, this trait is already apparent, and this is what makes me extremely excite about this team.
At the same time, I must keep a level head. Denver has an exceptional offense, and playing at Mile High is no easy task. I guess ultimately no matter what happens next game, win or loss, I am VERY proud of this team. Bottom line, I am happy with what they have accomplished this year. The mental toughness of this team has been very admirable, and it makes me just giddy thinking about what this team can do next season. And honestly, I could care less if Manning wins a superbowl and people anoint him as the greatest ever. We need to realize that we should just be happy for even having one of the top QBs ever, period, play for our team. At this point it has become a "my dad is tougher than your dad" type of ordeal, and bottom line is that they are both great QBs, and have been a blessing to have in the league. Even more of a blessing that one of them is a Patriot.