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Coping With Loss: Raiders Edition

Related: Patriots vs. Raiders: Fan Notes from the Game

NFL: New England Patriots at Las Vegas Raiders Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

I imagine that everyone who clicked on this article is here out of sheer, morbid curiosity over how I’m going to possibly spin this one. In a game that all but ended the New England Patriots’ season, birthed one of the worst plays of all time, where the offense once again did nothing, and the world is laughing at the Patriots, what can I possibly say that’s even remotely positive? How can I find one silver lining, let alone five?

That’s a good question. I have no idea. So here goes nuthin.

Altered expectations. I know it’s not technically over from a mathematical standpoint, but for all intents and purposes, that’s all she wrote for the 2022 Patriots. And while it may seem odd to put that here in an article highlighting the positives we can take away from this loss, I can’t help but feel kind of relieved. With any realistic shot of the postseason gone, I can finally put that particular delusion to bed and just watch each game for what it is.

The Patriots have Cincinnati, Miami, and Buffalo coming up, and they now need to win out to have a shot at the postseason. There’s just no way that’s happening, and so it’s time to shift focus a bit and examine this season as if the playoffs are no longer on the table.

I’m still fresh enough off of the dynasty years to still be spoiled to the point where honestly I’d rather not make the playoffs than sneak in and get slapped around on Wild Card Weekend again. There are plenty of fanbases who would be thrilled with just one playoff appearance, and I get that; if you want to drag me for this one, then I understand. But this position has seemed inevitable for like two months now, and so I’m glad it’s just finally here.

It’s almost over. Only three games to go, folks. Then we can all put this season to bed. I may swap out my Advent Calendar counting down the days to Christmas and replace it with a countdown to January 8, when the Bills will take out the Pats to secure the No. 1 seed and we all get to start thinking about next season in earnest. It’s been a long time since I was so excited for the season to end, but here we find ourselves.

The pieces are there. This could just as easily be the biggest negative for 2022 as a whole, but I genuinely believe that these Patriots are a lot more talented than both what their record says and what we see on the field. There are some good players on this team, on both sides of the ball, and most of them will be back next season.

Now that the season is all but over, I can see those brief flashes as signs of things to come in 2023 and beyond as opposed to salt in the wound of this failed season.

Jakobi Meyers. I know it seems odd to put Meyers in the positives list after such an awful decision, one that cost his team the game and any realistic shot at the playoffs. But you have to respect the way that he handled himself after the fact. He met all questions, answered them honestly, was clearly emotional over his mistake (unless he’s an amazing actor, those were real tears), completely owned up to it, and took it on the chin.

There’s not much more you can ask for in the wake of a bad error. I remember Matthew Slater’s 2008 rookie season, where he muffed a punt against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a pretty bad loss. Slater’s reaction then is similar to Meyers’s reaction now. I’d like to hope he’ll use this to fuel himself to be better and never do anything like this again.

If you want to still be mad at him and fume over what a boneheaded play it was, then go right ahead. But he has done everything right since that awful decision and is taking responsibility for his actions. Not sure what else you can do besides that, and I appreciate it.

At least we aren’t Matt Ryan. Matt Ryan now holds the record for biggest blown playoff lead and biggest blown regular season lead. He’s done it with two separate teams, and he’s officially an answer on pub trivia nights from now until eternity.

I really like Matt Ryan as a player and feel bad for him, but I’m glad we’re not him, or Colts fans in general. I still think the Meyers lateral will lose it’s sting over the years, but 28-3 and 33-0 will live on forever. As much as I don’t like taking solace in the misery of others... desperate times and all that.