It’s odd to be doing my first one of these so late in the year.
As anyone who has been on Pats Pulpit beyond this season knows, after each loss of the season, I post an article listing five positives we can all take away from the game. The Patriots don’t drop games that often, but when they do, there’s a tendency to panic and call for Tom Brady’s head and insist that while you’ve been wrong about the collapse of this dynasty since about 2006 or so, this year will for sure be different. And as far as losses go, Sunday night’s at Baltimore was about as good of a loss as it gets for this team, and one I didn’t lose an ounce of sleep over.
But if you did lose sleep, if you’re worried that the first “real” opponent the Patriots faced hung almost 40 on this defense and the 2019 team are frauds and there’s now no chance that New England can bring home a measly seventh Lombardi trophy this season and it’s all over, fear not. I’m here to make you feel better. Here are five reasons why this isn’t nearly as bad as you think.
Affordable loss. The Patriots could 100% afford to drop this game. They still have a commanding lead on the 1 seed and remain completely in control of their own destiny. Baltimore does now have a tiebreaker on New England should it come to that, but the Patriots have the lead in wins and should remain that way as the season goes on. Some losses hurt more than others, and this isn’t one that’s going to do a ton of damage to their playoff seeding.
Expected loss. Maybe you don’t count yourself among those who had this one pegged as a loss when the schedule first came out, but I certainly do. I predicted as much on last Thursday’s Pats Pulpit Podcast (subscribe to our channel please!), and while I had New England losing 17-13 as opposed to 37-20, when you come into a game expecting a loss it doesn’t sting nearly as bad. Especially since...
The Patriots needed this. I discussed it at length in yesterday’s Fan Notes, and I have been saying it since the Washington game: this is exactly the kind of loss the Patriots needed to get them ready for the hardest part of their schedule and the ensuing playoff push. The Patriots are the best in the business at staying focused, blocking out the noise, and using each other to stay motivated, but it’s impossible to block it all out, and this team could really use a reality check. You got beat up on national television and now everyone is saying you’re overrated. Perfect.
And speaking of perfect:
No more 16-0. Phew. I never want to go undefeated again. Nobody needs that. And I was getting sick of hearing about how this 2019 team could run the table. Now that’s gone and the only thing that has ever mattered - winning the Super Bowl - will be the sole focus. Everything from here on out is just gravy anyway; Brady’s legacy is secure, the Patriots already have the most Lombardis of every other franchise except Pittsburgh, and while winning another one would be amazing, it’s all just extra at this point and nobody should be upset if they don’t win a championship again. But now that there’s no more talk about an undefeated season (which was absurd anyway), it’s just one less stupid storyline to worry about as the Patriots seek to defend their title.
It won’t happen again. There’s no real way to sugarcoat the fact that the Patriots weren’t prepared to stop the Read Option offense that Baltimore ran on Sunday night. But it isn’t a scheme that every team in the league can run, so it’s not like it’s something they’ll have to worry about on a weekly basis. Plus, does anybody reading this think that Bill Belichick will be unprepared for the Ravens twice in one season? If these two teams play again, it will almost certainly be in Foxboro, and not only will there be more game tape of a Jackson-led offense available, but Belichick now has the benefit of playing against it directly. Everything that didn’t work on Sunday will be thrown out. The mistakes will be corrected. The parts that did work will be enhanced. And the results will be different. The Patriots rarely lose to the same team twice in a season, so odds are good that they’ll win when it matters.