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Coping With Loss: Playoff Edition

Five positives we can all take with us into the offseason.

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots’ season is over before the Divisional Round has even started. This is the first time that the Patriots haven’t played during the second week of the playoffs since 2009, which means there are some 10 year-olds out there wondering what human beings do on the third weekend of January every year.

My first year writing for Pats Pulpit was 2011, and they won the Super Bowl in 2014, 2016, and 2018. That means that for six of the nine years I’ve been part of the staff, my final Coping With Loss article has come when the Pats get bounced from the playoffs. These are always the toughest pills to swallow for a lot of you.

As for me, I’m completely fine with this loss, to be honest. The Patriots deserved to lose. And it’s going to be an incredibly interesting offseason, for a whole bunch of reasons. But now isn’t the time to get to all that. Let me help those of you who still might be hurting. Here are five things that will hopefully take the sting of this latest loss off a little bit.

New England won it last year. Contrary to popular belief, the New England Patriots aren’t guaranteed to win the Super Bowl every year. The media narrative will tell you otherwise, but getting to the Super Bowl is an extremely difficult thing to do, and the Pats aren’t going to always be in it. And since they literally just won the Super Bowl last year, you’ll forgive me if I’m not too broken up over not winning it all again this year. Especially since...

This wasn’t our year. I don’t think this playoff exit comes as a surprise to anybody who has been watching this team over this past season. New England beat up on bad teams, couldn’t move the ball against decent teams, and got spanked by good teams. They never found their groove offensively and opposing offenses figured out how to beat the defense as the playoffs loomed. Those are both surefire recipes for a playoff exit, and that’s what happened here. I personally thought they’d beat Tennessee and then get smoked by the Chiefs next week, but oh well. Not shocked in the slightest that 2019 didn’t end with a seventh Lombardi trophy.

Better to lose now than later. Even if the Patriots had won on Saturday and managed to somehow beat the Chiefs in KC, there was just no way that they were going to go to Baltimore and win based on the way that Derrick Henry ran on Saturday. Both Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram are beasts, and if the Patriots can’t stop one rusher, there’s no way they’re stopping both of them. So I’d rather lose now than later on. Now New England gets a better draft pick. Plus...

Now I can actually enjoy the playoffs. I honestly can’t remember the last time I got to just relax and watch the postseason from the Divisional round on as a casual observer. My January has consisted of either the Patriots making a run or me rooting against some kind of New England rival for more or less the entire 21st century. It’s been Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Ben Roethlisberger almost every single year, and it has been exhausting. I know that I for one am really looking forward to just chilling out for the rest of the month and enjoying some amazing matchups. How exciting is the Derrick Henry vs. Baltimore matchup going to be? And we’ve all been clamoring for a Mahomes vs. Jackson matchup...we might finally get that now. And I have absolutely no rooting interest in any team whatsoever. Couldn’t care less who wins or loses. Just want to see some good games and enjoy it. What a refreshing change of pace that is for me, and I’m honestly looking forward to the break.

Tommy B will be back now. Get ready for a long, long, long, looooooooong offseason of “what does the future hold for Tom Brady?” talks... but at the end of it will, in this idiot’s opinion, be another year of one Thomas Edward Patrick Brady suiting up for the Patriots. Maybe I’m being shortsighted here, but I just can’t see Brady’s last ever game at Gillette Stadium being an early playoff exit and a pick-six. Feel free to copy and paste this comment in a few months if Brady retires or goes to play somewhere else, but I just feel like he’s too much of a maniac to go out like that. I’d love to see one more year of Brady, and I think we’ll get that now.

So chin up, guys. It’s been an absolutely insane run... and it might not be over just yet.