Missed Lombardis: Less-than-ringing endings by the Pats
It really is the height of arrogance, ya know. Kicking rocks when some other team wins the Super Bowl because you know -- down in your cells, you KNOW -- that the Patriots shoulda won it. But there’s a lot of that this week.
So we'll spend the next few days unleashing our laments and listing the years when the Patriots absolutely, positively, hands-down should have won the Super Bowl. Today we look at: 2012.
(Click on the type below to view that season's gallery.)
Record and seed
12-4, No. 2 seed
How it ended
A 28-13 loss at Gillette Stadium to the 10-6 Ravens in which the Patriots tinkled away a 13-7 halftime lead, allowing 21 unanswered after the break.
Why it’s maddening
It certainly wasn’t a “great” Patriots team that year. When you look at the starters on both sides of the ball, there are some significant gaps. On offense against the Ravens, the Patriots had no Rob Gronkowski (mangled arm), mercurial Brandon Lloyd and a (we know now from evidence submitted at his murder trial) a less-than-professional Aaron Hernandez as their main guys next to Wes Welker. Up front on defense they had Justin Francis and Kyle Love, Steve Gregory was playing safety and the team’s best corner – Aqib Talib – would be out of the AFCCG before the end of the first quarter with a hip injury. Still, it was a game the Patriots should have won. They botched a third-and-2 on an otherwise clinical first drive by hurrying up and had to settle for a field goal. With :26 seconds left in the half and first down at the Ravens 10, they ran just one play before kicking a field goal. Their shoddy pass defense – an issue all year – came undone in the second half and a Stevan Ridley fumble in the fourth quarter after a vicious hit by Bernard Pollard. Welker had a big third-down drop, Brady – who threw 54 times – got picked on a ricochet and the Patriots had to watch the Ravens celebrate at Gillette. The Patriots – had they won – would have faced a San Francisco team they lost to 41-34 in the regular season after spotting them a 31-3 lead then reeling off 28 unanswered to tie it in the fourth. Beatable. But, honestly, it wasn’t a Patriots team that seemed to be all there all year. Recall their four losses – a home loss to the Cardinals when Stephen Gostkowski missed a chip-shot game-winner, a road loss to Seattle that featured clock mismanagement and a defensive meltdown, a 31-30 road loss to the Ravens replete with bad pass defense and bad replacement officials and the late-season loss to the Niners. Odd.
Why you can’t still be mad
When it’s injury-related, it’s easier to swallow. Gronkowski broke his arm against the Colts then rebroke it in the Divisional Playoff win over Houston. Talib brought stability to the secondary, but once he went out against Baltimore, everyone pretty much knew how it would unfold. And it held form. The Ravens – even though they went 10-6 during the regular season – were a much tougher team mentally and physically than the Patriots and Anquan Boldin was a force of nature in that postseason. In hindsight, it’s amazing the team had as much success as it did given the state of Hernandez.
Justifiable Sustained Rage Index