The New England Patriots still have a theoretical chance of making the playoffs, but their 24-3 loss against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14 still all but ended their season: even if they win their last three games of the regular season, they only slightly improve their odds. It is therefore more probable than not that the tournament takes place without the Patriots for the first time since 2008.
Just don’t tell the team.
After the disappointing defeat in Los Angeles, the captains took to the virtual podium to share their thoughts and publicly set the tone. Among them was defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, who went straight to the Patriots’ one-game-at-a-time mentality by quickly pointing out that the focus will have to shift to the upcoming matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
“I don’t look at records. I don’t look at playoffs or whether we’re going into the playoffs, if we make it or not. I look at it as a game,” the first-year team captain said during his media conference call. “We got a game next week. We had a game today. We didn’t do what we had to do to win this game, but we still got a game coming up. We still got to prepare for that game, we still got to play our butts off.”
Now at 6-7, New England is very much looking into the proverbial abyss and at a January without playoff football. And yet, the team is still at the very least trying to finish the regular season strong — either by keeping its slim hopes alive until mathematical elimination, or by playing spoilers against all three division rivals starting with Miami next Sunday.
“There’s three weeks to go. We ain’t a bunch of quitters,” said Guy. “It doesn’t matter what the record is, it doesn’t matter what the outcome is: We ain’t a bunch of quitters. We’re going to go out there and play some football, and that’s who we are. We’re competing. That’s what we’re going to do, continue to fight regardless what happens at the end of the season.
“Now we have to watch this film and understand what we have to do to get better because we still have to keep on grinding. It’s not over yet.”
As one of the most experienced players on the team’s defense, and the Patriots’ longest tenured front seven defender following Dont’a Hightower’s Coronavirus opt-out, Guy’s voice is obviously an important one. Based on his words, New England fans should at least expect a team that is still competing even as its playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.