The NFL Combine is set to kick off this week. Free agency is rapidly approaching. Various teams around the league are starting to make acquisitions. The New York Jets are already in the process of pissing yet another season away.
Whether we like it or not, it's time to turn the page to 2015.
The NFL offseason is always bittersweet; on one hand, football is over, and that's just the worst. But on the other, there are eight whole months to start getting excited about the roster moves, draft picks, and new signings that are going to accompany a whole new year. Starting right now, every team in the league is 0-0, and because of that there will be a lot of optimism all across the country regarding what 2015 will bring.
But I say not so fast. I say that I'm not quite ready to completely let last season go just yet. Sure, I'm looking forward to watching a bunch of college athletes run, jump, and catch for my amusement this weekend. And sure, I can't wait to see what Bill Belichick is going to do in the upcoming draft. But I'm still very much basking in the glow of one helluva season, and I see no reason why we only have to look ahead from here on out.
Welcome to the Top 20 Patriots Moments of 2014.
Over the coming weeks and months, I'm going to be looking back over New England's 2014 campaign as a whole and whittling the entire season down to the 20 moments that, for better or worse, helped to define the year. It won't be easy, and ultimately what goes on and stays off this list is going to be the subject of some debate, but that's OK; after all, what else am I going to do this offseason? Work? Spend time with loved ones? Get in shape? No thanks. I may have to take a few liberties with exactly how I define the word "moment," as so much happened between September and February of 2014 it's all but impossible to limit this list to just 20 individual plays, but I don't think anyone will complain.
But before I get into this last year's list, however, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at what I deemed the Top 20 Moments of 2013. Looking at this list now, every single one of these moments seemed like a lifetime ago; it's hard to believe that it was just last year that Tim Tebow was a Patriot and Kenbrell Thompkins was snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against the New Orleans Saints. It's an entire season of one of the most likable Patriots teams of all time all condensed into just a few lines, and a season worth revisiting. If you'd like to read the accompanying article, just click on the number next to the event.
20. The sign .
19. and help the Patriots lock up a sloppy home opener against the .
18. and depart for Denver and jail, respectively.
17. makes a huge one-handed TD grab just before halftime against the .
16. The Patriots lose in OT to the Jets, courtesy of an interesting new rule
15. bowls over the entire defensive line for a rushing touchdown.
14. leads a 4th quarter comeback drive against the to win the 2013 season opener.
13. emerges as a receiving threat with a two touchdown day against the .
12. A highly questionable non-PI call costs the Patriots a Monday Night Football game against the .
11. and team up for a volleyball-style interception against the Miami Dolphins.
10. New England engineers a huge second half comeback against the Miami Dolphins.
9. Aqib Talib shuts down and in a primetime matchup against the .
8. has 100+ rushing yards and 58 yards receiving on a broken arm in a comeback win against the Buffalo Bills.
7. The Patriots put up 55 points in their historic beatdown of the .
6. goes beast mode against the Buffalo Bills to lock up the 2 seed in the AFC.
5. The Patriots travel to Baltimore and obliterate the .
4. 4 touchdown day lifts the Patriots past the in the AFC Divisional round.
3. New England scores two touchdowns in the final two minutes to come back against the .
2. Tom Brady hits Kenbrell Thompkins in the end zone with 10 seconds left to play to secure a win against the .
1. New England erases a 24 point halftime deficit against the Peyton Manning led and engineer a 34-31 overtime victory.
So here we go. Moment number 20 will be coming to you shortly.
This now marks the third year for me compiling this list, and for the third year in a row, I have a funny feeling that we all have a very, very solid idea as to what will be occupying the one spot when the countdown finally reaches its climax. But that's alright. There's plenty of time to break down all the great plays that will proceed it.
So be sure to check back in with the Pulpit early and often this offseason, not just for draft and free agency updates, but to help me relive one of the greatest seasons we have ever had - or will ever have - as fans.