You know what the difference is between being a team that’s won a Super Bowl and being the hyper-relevant Empire that has dominated the galaxy for generations? This. This is your prime example. The NFL kicks off the season with the reigning Super Bowl champion playing the NFC champs from the previous year. The title banner is dropped. So are an insane amount of flags. There are lightning storms. Controversial calls. Julio Jones plays out of his mind. Atlanta ends the game exactly the same way they ended last season, with a failed pass to Jones. There were literally dozens of storylines to be talked about. But the one word on everyone’s lips and keyboards?
Such is life when you’re the one true dynasty. Everyone fixates on you. Even when you’re not playing, you’re in their collective head. The Patriots are that rich, insanely hot girl that every kid in school is obsessed with even though she can name maybe five of them. They’re the United States, with everyone in countries a Jeopardy! champion couldn’t find on a map that scream “Death to America!” while putting in their application for a work visa. That attention, wanted or unwanted, is the price of being them.
But if anyone thinks the obsession is mutual, guess again. The Patriots lost to the Eagles last year. It sucked. The defense played Nick Foles like he was a Make-a-Wish kid whose dream was to have a perfect passer rating. We remember. It wasn’t lost on anyone that in February he had 367 yards and a 106.7 passer rating, and last night had 117 yards and a 50.7. I won’t lie to you, that sucked. But in no way are Pats fans swallowing pills over it.
Because as bad as that Super Bowl was, it probably doesn’t even crack the top five worst losses of the Bradichick Epoch. Mark Sanchez once came to Gillette and beat them in a playoff game a month after the Patriots beat the Jets 45-3. Eli Manning put together two good months in the span of nine years, and each cost us a title. The 2006 team blew a 15-point lead at halftime in Indy, costing themselves the chance to beat the Bears, one of the worst conference champions of all time. And the ’05 team lost to Jake freaking Plummer. So yeah, we’ve had it worse. It’s the price of never not being in Super Bowl contention. You don’t have the luxury of easy losses. Every one of them gets treated like Armageddon by the outside world. Meanwhile the Patriots go back to work self-scouting and trying to correct past mistakes and their fans look ahead to the next year’s title run.
So again, good for Philly. Congrats to them for last year and last night. But understand that we’re just not that into you. And now that you’ve gotten to the top, last night was a little taste of how hard it is to stay there.