The New England Patriots not playing postseason football is not something fans have experienced a lot over the last two decades. In fact, the team did not qualify for the tournament only twice between winning its first Super Bowl win in 2001 and the 2019 season: in 2002 and 2008, missing out both times because of a tiebreaker working against New England. In between, the Patriots were a playoff fixture.
This year, however, they will not participate. Entering the regular season finale with a 6-9 record, the Patriots have already been eliminated from postseason contention. What has been a wild and at times disappointing year — from Tom Brady’s free agency departure to the Coronavirus pandemic — will come to a somber end in a few days.
For the first time in the last 12 seasons, New England’s fans will therefore not get to experience playoff football. For that, team captain Matthew Slater recently apologized to the fan base.
“I know that a lot of you are disappointed in the season that we had, just as much as we are,” said Slater during a recent media conference call. “We’re sorry we didn’t represent ourselves in a better way in terms of wins and losses. There’s never going to be a moment in time where we settle for this type of season, this type of outing. The leadership we have here is always going to push this organization to be great, and to be great in all areas.
“That’s not going to change Sunday, and that’s not going to change moving forward. So, stick with us. I know the demands are high, as they should be, and that’s why we love you guys so much.”
After losing their last three games in rather lopsided fashion, the Patriots will try to finish out their season in positive fashion on Sunday. Standing between them and their seventh win of the season are the New York Jets, who started the year 0-13 — including a 30-27 loss against New England — but did win their last two contests. They no longer look quite like the dumpster fire they appeared to be earlier this season.
But regardless of whether or not the Patriots are able to come away victoriously on Sunday, Slater did have a message to their fans heading into Week 17.
“Stick with us, and we’ll keep fighting.”