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Where does the Patriots loss to the Eagles in Super Bowl LII rank in the Bill Belichick era?

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Is it even in the top five?

Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

So the folks over at Bleeding Green Nation asked me five questions ahead of tonight’s game between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles and it’s hard to avoid an obvious fact. This is a preseason “rematch” of last year’s Super Bowl that the Eagles won.

The standard amount of razzing took place and the question was asked: how have Patriots fans been dealing with the fact that they lost the Super Bowl?

Well...how is everyone doing? Because if I’m being honest, I feel like I moved on from the Super Bowl before Josh McDaniels finished his “will he? won’t he?” flirtation with the Indianapolis Colts.

There are plenty of reasons why losing this Super Bowl didn’t feel as bad as some of the other losses that have taken place in the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady era. A perfect season wasn’t on the line. They already have the most Super Bowls of all time. A Manning brother wasn’t involved. The Patriots probably be back again this year or the next. The Eagles simply destroyed the Patriots defense and made the plays when it mattered most; there was no heart-wrenching twist at the end.

As many people noted when I posed this question on Twitter, the outcome of the game was more frustrating than painful and that centered entirely on the benching of Malcolm Butler. And then I moved on.

I decided to rank the most painful losses of the Belichick/Brady era because I wanted to see if my sentiment around losing Super Bowl LII was correct. How many games did I consider to be more painful? Buckle up.

  1. Super Bowl XLII: A perfect season on the line, featuring an Asante Samuel drop and a helmet catch. Easily the most painful.
  2. Super Bowl XLVI: The Patriots were supposed to redeem themselves, but instead freaking Eli Manning got a second ring.
  3. 2006 AFC Championship Game: The Patriots had a 21-3 lead, but blew it against Peyton Manning, who led a game-winning drive in the final minute. The winner of this game was going to demolish the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl.
  4. 2010 Divisional Round: The 14-2 Patriots lost at home to Mark Sanchez the freaking New York Jets? This was arguably one of the best Patriots teams in franchise history and faceplanted against the most annoying AFC East foil of the Belichick/Brady era.

There’s no question that these four are my Mt. Rushmore of “painful losses,” although I’m expecting someone to remind me of an obvious one in the comments.

There are other losses that I would put in the same tier as losing to the Eagles, too. In chronological order:

  • 2005 Divisional Round: The dynasty “ended” with an ugly whisper.
  • 2009 Wild Card: The Ravens ran up a 24-0 lead in the first quarter. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been as flabbergasted at the poor play of the Patriots as during this game (the 2008 Wildcat game would be another).
  • 2012 AFC Championship Game: Aqib Talib was hurt after 7 snaps. Chandler Jones left the game after just 2 snaps. The Ravens physically destroyed the Patriots in this game.
  • 2013 AFC Championship Game: In all honesty, the Patriots were lucky to get this far after all of their injuries and roster changes. Talib managed to play 19 snaps before his injury this time.
  • 2015 AFC Championship Game: The Patriots were also lucky to make it this far in 2015-16, but they were facing the best defense in the league and were trotting out Steven Jackson at running back. But watching Bryan Stork tip the snap on every single play was a nightmare that ranks among one of the worst non-adjustments of the Belichick era- and to have the game still within reach against the corpse of Peyton Manning makes this one even more painful. This is what I would rank as my #5.

Are any of these worse that losing in the Super Bowl to the Eagles? I’m indifferent. I understand the argument that losing in the Super Bowl is more painful than losing any other game because of the stakes.

I just think that having won the Super Bowl in 2014 and 2016 dampered the stakes a bit for me in 2017, and I’ll also always think losing games to Peyton Manning were the equivalent of losing in the Super Bowl.

What do you think?