The New England Patriots suffered their first loss since Week 6 of this season, to the tune of a 27-17 defeat at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. It’s been a while since the Pats dropped a game, so they’re likely still licking their wounds a bit today.
But that’s OK, to be honest. Yeah sure, the loss stings, and the Patriots lost control of the inside track on that first round bye, but at the end of the day, New England is still in great shape as they continue to grossly overachieve on this season. Here are five positives to take away from this most recent loss.
Patriots were due. The Patriots have been playing out of their minds these past two months. They have been dominating in almost every phase. They were due for a loss like this, where nothing really went the way it was supposed to and the other team just seemed to win every single battle. Sometimes the Pats come out and just lay an egg; it happens every season. And even then, they pulled it together late and almost managed to force OT.
Colts wanted it more. Indy was as fired up for this game as I’ve ever seen in a non-postseason contest. They played like their season was on the line (because in a way, it kind of was) and brought the pain at every level. I’m trying to think of a single positional grouping that got the better of the Colts for the bulk of this game and drawing a blank; it was just an unbelievably motivated team playing out of their minds and winning a game. Good for them. New England matched the intensity too late, and that’s that.
Good learning experience. Losses like this can be the kick in the pants a team needs at this point in the season. It’s easy, when you’re winning games by an average of 35-10, to get a little cocky and maybe think that you’re better than you actually are. This could be a good reset for the team and an excellent opportunity to refocus. Not only that, but this is — amazingly — Mac Jones’s first road loss of his career. Games like this are infinitely more valuable than the wins, as these are the situations where you learn what you’re made of and make positive strides forward.
Affordable loss. Not necessarily in the race for the One Seed, but New England is still very much in control of winning the division. That a first round bye is even in the conversation this season is already such a massive win for 2021 overall, and that New England can afford to drop a game like this while maintaining playoff control is a great bonus. Honestly — if I’d told any of you, in August that this Patriots team would lose a game that potentially cost them the No. 1 Seed but they were still well in line to clinch the division and host at least one playoff game, I feel like we’d all be over the moon with that. So keep the perspective.
No more primetime games. If you feel like it’s been a while since New England played a standard game on a Sunday... you’re correct. The Pats haven’t played a football game on the usual day at the usual time since November 28th; almost a full month will have passed by the time New England takes the field against Buffalo on Sunday. There’s a very strict schedule and regimen that teams like to abide by in-season, and it has simply been impossible to adhere to any of that regimen with road games, Saturday night games, Monday Night games, and all that good stuff. Every game from here on out is at a normal time, which means I’m getting to bed at a normal hour.