I've never been known as a gracious loser. Or a gracious winner, for that matter. In fact, I don't think anyone has ever used the word "gracious" to describe me at all. You figure if you've been a loser as long as I have, you'd get used to it after a while. And to a degree, I have. I don't bat an eyelash when I'm the last one picked for a pickup football game. Strange looks from women just roll off my back. I turn the other cheek when people who hate my writing point out my embarrassingly uncreative use of cliches to describe not letting things get to you. Most of the time, despite my many, many shortcomings, I'm able to stay as Stoic and unresponsive as Jim Caldwell during a Colts game.
Patriots losses, however, are another story. I definitely take every Patriots loss a little harder than a mentally stable person should. I'm happy to report that it has improved over the years; I no longer have friends and relatives calling me every hour after each loss to make sure I haven't jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, and I only sit in the shower with all my clothes on crying after the really big games (DAMMIT ASANTE CATCH THAT %#@!ING PICK!), so I'm definitely getting better. It still isn't normal, though, and I know my behavior needs to change - and change soon - before I end up living out the rest of my days at Demented Hills Mental Hospital. I hear that the food there is pretty good, but I have a funny feeling that the communal TV in the day room won't be airing Patriots games, and it's probably hard to do any writing while wearing a straight jacket and oven mitts.
So optimism is now the name of the game when it comes to Patriots losses. I've been trying to employ a little Immersion Therapy as well (I touched on it briefly when I wrote about the Patriots vs. Lions preseason game), but I think trying to stay positive is a little more beneficial way to handle such a devastatingly traumatic experience. So after every Patriots loss this season - and here's hoping there won't be many more - I'm going to try and find 5 things that I can feel good about heading into the following week. Here's goes my first try.
1. Don't give up on this defense yet. Yes, New England's defense has been terrible thus far. Yes, Sergio Brown and Josh Barrett looked like Cheech and Chong out there on Sunday. And yes, our pass rush has been only slightly more successful than me at a charity bachelor auction (that was the best 68 cents you ever spent and you know it, Thelma). It's easy to point the finger at New England's struggling defense, but it's not quite as bad as it seems when you look at the NFL as a whole. Okay, it's still pretty bad, but at least they aren't the only team giving up lots of points. The lockout-shortened offseason has clearly been working in favor of offenses league-wide, as there have been a lot of high scoring games so far this year. Shaun Ellis said it himself; this defense needs time to learn how to read one another and gel as a cohesive unit. It's still very early in the season and our front seven haven't been playing together for very long at all. Things are bound to get better as the year goes on and the defense starts to come together. I mean, it's not like it can get any worse. I just wish they'd hurry the hell up so I can stop having heart attacks every time any opposing QB with two working legs gets the ball.
2. Tom Brady won't throw that many picks in one game again. One less pick from Tommy B on Sunday, and the Patriots are 3-0 right now. Sometimes the ball doesn't bounce your way, and an odd bounce led to a pick-six that ultimately swung the momentum over to Buffalo's side to stay (I think the other 3 picks are at least partly Brady's fault, with the Rob Gronkowski pick entirely on Brady's shoulders). Tom is too good a quarterback to let that happen again, and you know he is going to be spending a lot of time in the film room this week. I also wouldn't be surprised if Brady started spending some extra time with Chad Ochocinco. I get the feeling that, unlike Joey Galloway, Brady likes Ocho and is really trying to get him caught up. The question now remains as to whether or not it's going to happen.
3. Stevan Ridley will get more involved. I'm still scratching my head as to why Ridley wasn't utilized more on Sunday. He ran well when he was in there and picked up some nice yardage. I can see Ridley working his way into the backfield as part of a 3-pronged attack; he has the build to be a bruising back and could possibly be the answer to helping the Pats protect a lead by killing the clock with a steady stream of 4 yard gains.
4. We're going to get healthy. I'm never one to blame injuries for a loss; a good team is able to win with the personnel on the field. And I'm not going to pin Sunday's loss on the injuries that have been stacking up as of late. Buffalo did a great job making the necessary plays and we simply couldn't put the game away despite multiple chances. That said, having Sebastian Vollmer, Albert Haynesworth, Patrick Chung, Ras-I Dowling, and Aaron Hernandez on the sidelines definitely didn't help any. Getting those guys back is going to provide a boost; hopefully we will have a less crowded injury report heading into Oakland and beyond.
5. There's always beer. Sweet, frosty beer. There's also Jack Daniel's when beer just doesn't cut it. And if for some odd reason you aren't into the whole "drinking to forget about your problems" scene, then find something that works for you. Maybe some ice cream, or a good old fashioned YouTube search for "wake up pranks." There are also apparently some whack jobs out there who turn to exercise when they are feeling blue. So if that's your thing, good for you, I guess. Just don't rub it in the rest of our faces as we turn to significantly less wholesome coping mechanisms.
Believe it or not, I'm already feeling better. I'm going to take the rest of today to finish
drinking stewing, and then it's time to turn the page and get ready for Oakland. I suggest you all do the same. There are a lot of interesting storylines to talk about for Sunday's game, not the least of which is Richard Seymour's opportunity to remind the Patriots that trading him was not in their best interest. But that can wait. Let's all finish licking our wounds while keeping it in mind that the AFC East still goes through Foxboro. The Buffalo Bills are eventually going to remember that they are the Buffalo Bills, and I have a feeling the result of this game won't be the same on January 1st. Let's just hope that Buffalo can stay hot when they host the Jets.
Hopefully this is the last article of this nature you'll be seeing for a while.