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: 2013.
(Click on the type below to view that season's gallery.)
Record and Seed
12-4, No. 2 seed
How it ended
A 26-16 loss at Denver to the top-seeded Broncos in the AFC Championship. Denver went on to get hammered by Seattle in the Super Bowl, 43-8
Why it’s maddening
Injuries. The loss of Gronk to an ACL tear against the Browns on December 10 hamstrung the Patriots offense and the loss of Aqib Talib in the first half of the AFC Championship on a devastating collision with Wes Welker on a pick play sealed the Patriots’ fate. That the Patriots got to 12-4 is fairly amazing. Two of their losses were impacted by officiating calls. In their 30-27 overtime loss at the Jets, they got called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty because Chris Jones pushed a teammate from behind on a missed field goal attempt in overtime. The Patriots misinterpreted the newly-instituted rule, thinking that a player who started on the line could loop behind a teammate and push. That was the initial proposal and the way it was explained on a rules change video by VP of officiating Dean Blandino, but the rule was tweaked when it was changed. That gave the Jets a second life and they cashed in. Later, in Carolina, an obvious pass interference on Rob Gronkowski on a game-ending throw to the end zone, was overruled when Clete Blakeman and his crew declared the pass uncatchacble. The Patriots had a string of narrow wins in this first season post-Hernandez – heart-stoppers against Atlanta, Cleveland and New Orleans – but they were not a well-balanced team. After taking out the Colts with a punishing ground game in the Divisional Playoffs, the Patriots got nothing going on the ground against Denver. That left it to Tom Brady to try and cobble things together throwing to Julian Edelman, a banged-up Danny Amendola, Austin Collie, Michael Hoomanawanui, Aaron Dobson, Matt Slater and Matt Mulligan. That didn’t work out too well. The Patriots fell behind 23-3 as Brady came under siege by the Broncos defense and the offensive line got porous at key junctures. After Talib went down, rookie Logan Ryan and Alfonzo Dennard but abused by Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Eric Decker. They combined for 20 receptions and 292 of the 400 yards Peyton Manning threw for in one of Manning’s best performances that nobody seems to recall.
Why you can’t still be mad
Just too outgunned. And that Denver team was probably the best of their run since Manning got there, despite this season’s Super Bowl win. The Patriots went into the offseason counting on Hernandez then he got arrested in June for killing Odin Lloyd. That’s not the kind of thing a team can just shrug off and move past. When the season began, Gronk was still coming back from his litany of 2012 injuries so the whole offense revolved around Edelman. Talib and Jerod Mayo both went down against the Saints in Week 6 – Mayo for the rest of the year – and the Patriots were just not very good on defense. There’s no way the Patriots were going to beat Seattle in that Super Bowl either. They would have put up more of a fight, one presumes, but they weren’t good enough to win a title.
Justifiable Sustained Rage Level