The wounds from yesterday are still fresh. I don’t want to talk about it, but at the same time I need to talk about it. I need to open up about it. I need a therapeutic release. Because the more I thought about the game the more frustrated I got. It wasn’t a fluke we lost. The Broncos pounded Brady all day long. He had no time to throw. Our offensive line sucked. But despite all that it was still our game to win. Because our defense was every bit as dominating as theirs if not more so. We held the god damn Broncos to 12 freaking first downs. 3 freaking points in the 2nd half! Not to mention the fact they scored all their points when our tablets weren’t working. I’m not blaming the loss on that but can you imagine if the roles were reversed. If this was a home game and the Broncos tablets weren’t working and that’s when we scored all our points? It would be WWIII. But I digress. Here are the things that are gonna haunt my dreams till next year.
1. The Pats winning the coin flip and opting to receive the kick
I still don’t understand what this was all about. I still feel like there is a chance Nantz screwed this up. The Patriots have deferred like 1,000 straight times when they’ve won the coin toss. Yet in this game we took the ball? Makes no sense. Zero. Just set everything off on the wrong foot. Made me raise my eyebrows before the game even started. We punted and the Broncos scored and it was catchup the entire game.
2. Stephen Gostkowski
This was as inexplicable as the Pats choosing to receive. I wasn’t nervous at all until Gostkowski missed the PAT. His first missed PAT in 500 attempts? The best kicker in the game missing something he is automatic at? I had a pit in my stomach the second he missed. Somehow I just knew that would haunt us the entire game. We could never get away from that point hanging over our heads. I just knew it was gonna come down to the 2 pt conversion and I knew we weren’t gonna get it. I knew it with every fiber of my being. You can’t be mad at Gostkowski especially after he was basically crying post game about it, but it just was so obvious it wasn’t going to be our day when he missed that.
3. Broncos Field Goal At the End of the First Half
We just needed 1 freaking first down and the Broncos don’t get the ball back to end the half. We ran it on first down which was a give away. Then 2 shitty pass plays, a shitty punt and the Broncos kick a field goal to end the first half. It felt huge in real time. It was huge. 1 freaking first down is all we needed.
4. Gronk Dehydrates
This may have been Gronks best game of his career. He was the only guy who could get open. He made big catch after big catch. The TD to pull them within 2 may have been the catch of his career. But he cramped up as we were going in for a score in the beginning of the 3rd quarter. A TD there and the entire momentum of the game switches. But right when we had them on the ropes he sat out the entire series in the red zone after he was the one who got us down there. Without him we had no chance. Horrible timing for cramps. Still an unbelievable game from him.
5. Punt Game
I feel like this was sneaky the most important part of the whole damn game. We were losing 20-30 yards every freaking punt exchange it felt like. Ryan Allen was punting the ball 30 yards. Britton Colquitt was punting it 50 yards and pinning us inside the 10 every freaking time. It felt like the entire 3rd quarter we started at our 5 yard line and the Broncos started at midfield. It was inevitable that the Broncos would eventually get a few first downs and get a field goal during this punt fiesta. That’s exactly what happened and we burned an entire quarter in the process. If we just could have gotten out of the shadow of our goal line or had a decent punt I think we would have been able to take over. Because believe it or not every time we weren’t pinned in the 2nd half we moved the ball fairly effectively. Meanwhile Manning never had to play with urgency. He was content to go 3 and out the entire game. Anybody giving an ounce of credit to Manning for this win is insane. He missed a couple wide open guys in the end zone. We just couldn’t make it hurt.
6. Homefield Advantage
Nobody was more convinced that homefield advantage didn’t matter than me. I screamed it from every rooftop I could find. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was a huge difference. In hindsight no explanation for losing to the Jets, Eagles and Dolphins down the stretch. 1 of those wins and the Pats are going to the Superbowl. That kind of hurts to think about.
I know lots of people will say it’s all the offensive line’s fault. Yeah they sucked for sure, but the Broncos defense is better than our offensive line. We could play 100 times and the trenches would have been the same way. Our defensive line was equally dominating if not more so. The things I mentioned were things within our control. Things that shouldn’t have happened that did. Things that were not normal occurrences. Again the game wasn’t a fluke. Broncos certainly deserved to win, but it just fucking sucks. If we played em 100 times in Denver I still think we win 75 of them.