Every year around this time, the New England Patriots play an absolute stinker of a game. And every year, we wonder if this is finally the year the Patriots’ dynasty will fall apart, or at least not make the Super Bowl.
And, unfortunately, the Patriots usually prove to us all that they’re never going to fall apart, ever. Tom Brady may be 42, and look his age while playing, but history tells us he’ll be just fine come January.
However, during the Patriots’ 28-22 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football last week, it really looked like we were entering new territory. The score suggests the game was much closer than it was (the Patriots scored 13 points in garbage time), but the 30 close-up shots of an angry Tom Brady yelling at his receivers reveal just how dire the situation really is.
When the Pats began the season 8-0, it was clear that while they did have a very good defense, they hadn’t played any good teams and had a very poor offense. The first sign of weakness occurred on November 3 when they lost 37-20 to the Baltimore Ravens, but everybody loses to the Ravens bad these days.
However, in losing to the just-average Houston Texans (who were 7-4 at the time) in convincing fashion, the Pats’ offensive issues were there for everyone to see. The Texans double-teamed receiver Julian Edelman — whose at most the second-best receiver on most teams — and it made all the difference in the world as nobody else could get open or make a play.
I thought Brady was going to throw his helmet on the ground three different times, but he caught himself with some hidden reserve of strength each time.
When Patriots games like this happen, the first thing all football-fans do is get excited and debate whether Tom Brady is finally done and if the team is actually terrible.
Though it seems like that’s what I’m doing here, I know better. The man won the Super Bowl last February, and threw for 500 yards two Super Bowls ago, for crying out loud.
No, I won’t be telling you that the Patriots suck, that Tom Brady doesn’t have it anymore, and that the dynasty is dead. All I’ll do is enjoy games like the one we had last Sunday, and encourage you to do the same.
It really feels like the Patriots have at least two more of these games left in them this season — they play Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday, December 8 — and there is the real chance they flame out in the playoffs.
But, even if that doesn’t happen, if the Patriots get back to the Super Bowl, or Tom Brady all of a sudden starts playing like he’s 40 again, we’ll always have that game against the Texans.
If, God forbid, the Patriots reverse course and bring back disgraced receiver Antonio Brown and he fixes the team’s passing-game problems overnight, we’ll still be able to remember the time it looked like the Patriots were done.
Because, no matter how bleak it may look at times, the day will come when the Patriots really are done. I know this just as much as I know my Los Angeles Rams won’t make the playoffs this year (please, don’t try and convince me otherwise and get my hopes up). All dynasties come to an end — whether it’s the Golden State Warriors who are currently last in the NBA a year after making the Final a fifth-straight year, the three-time Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks, or the Dallas Cowboys — and someday, even if it takes 20 years, so will the New England Patriots.
It might not quite be over yet, but hold fast my friends, a new day is coming when Tom Brady will look his age, the Patriots will finish fourth in the AFC East (or at least second), and Bill Belichik will retire.
Until then, enjoy watching the Baltimore Ravens win this year’s Super Bowl.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.