By: Kevin Rousseau - Kevin's Articles are Sponsored by Comdoctor.net
January 14, 2006

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There is one question that you'll be twisting around in your head as you golf, do a crossword, or watch the Sox implode over the next eight months.

Namely, was the disaster in Denver the end of the Patriots' Super Bowl run or just an aberration as the Patriots re-load next year for another Super Bowl title?

I suppose the most frustrating part of the elimination by the Broncos was the lack of elegance. It wasn't a loss to a great team at the last minute on a field goal after playing a solid game. Five turnovers and a lack of composure is not the signature of this Patriots era. After all, when was the last time you saw two Patriots (Willie McGinest and Larry Izzo) have to be separated on the sideline during a game? That happens to other teams, not our Patriots.

For all the luck/fortune/taking advantage of opportunities that has bestowed the Patriots since 2001, Saturday night's disaster evened the score for the Football gods in one fell swoop. An Adam Vinatieri miss in a key situation during the playoffs? A Troy Brown fumble on a punt return? An awful pass interference call that goes against the Pats? This stuff doesn't happen to our Patriots. For the past few years, we rode the horse called Karma but against the Broncos, he was put out to pasture.

But give the Broncos credit. They beat the Patriots at their own game. They recovered three fumbles in New England territory and capitalized each time. They made "the play" of the game when Champ Bailey completed a 14-point swing after intercepting a Brett Favre-like forced throw from Tom Brady and returning it a 100 yards to seal the game. In short, they were very Patriot-like.

Let's face it. This game and the Jaguars one a week ago are two performances that won't get a lot of space on the Tom Brady Hall of Fame DVD when it comes out in 2018. He looked rattled at times and uncharacteristically lacked composure (the mockery of John Lynch at the beginning of the game, for example).

Yet if anyone deserves a mulligan or two, it's Brady and the Patriots. You are frustrated -perhaps angry -right now.

Get over it.

They acquitted themselves this season, having used 45 starters to make it down to the final eight teams standing. Saturday night's meltdown aside, they did it with class, composure and grit. There is no shame in being a Patriots fan this morning. There is a reason that the Patriots have only won twice in Denver since 1964 and why teams with a bye win 80% of the time. From coaching changes to injuries and then a tough first-half schedule, the deck was stacked from the beginning of the season for this team. One could look to teams that suffered 2005 meltdowns like the Eagles and Jets and reflect that the Patriots could have easily packed it in after the Colts blowout on November 7th. But they didn't.

The most frustrating item about the Patriots' elimination was the feeling that they hadn't played their best game yet. You began to feel that they were on the rise while most other teams had reached their level of competence.

And for sure, when the team takes the field in September of this year, it will look very different and perhaps not nearly as good. David Givens and Richard Seymour will likely be gone to free agency. Eric Mangini will likely be heading up the Jets. And a veteran team -especially at linebacker and running back - will suddenly appear to have a little less tread on the tire.

I'm already looking forward to it.

Idle Zinger thoughts while finding my "Frankie Says Relax" t-shirt at the bottom of my drawer:

You know you've reached an interesting crossroads in your life when you are just as familiar with The Wiggles' music as you once were with AC/DC's.

I wish I could write half as good of a football column as the gang at ColdHardFootballFacts.com

I imagine there were a lot of smiles on the faces of Mosi's Mooses alumnaie while watching Lofa Tatupu run around like a madman against the Redskins on Saturday. "Mosi's Mooses" was an informal fan club in the north end zone at Foxboro stadium that started a chant everytime that Mosi Tatupu touched the ball back in the 80s.

Please. Pass a law, Congress, that bans teams from wearing the same color pants and jerseys. Forget tax reform and prescription drug benefits. Focus on the important matters.

Some guys here in Maine grow a hunting beard in anticipation of going after a moose or a deer. I prefer to cultivate a playoff goatee.

Let me see if I have this straight. Redskins safety Sean Taylor is fined $17,000 for spitting into the face of an opponent. Falcons coach Jim Mora, Jr. gets tagged for $25,000 for using a cell phone during a late-season game in order to find out the implications of a tie on his team's playoff chances. Seems fair to me"

How did we ever live before the advent of the yellow first-down line and video replay?

This column also appears in the American Journal (Westbrook/Gorham, Maine), the Current (Scarborough/Cape Elizabeth/South Portland, Maine), the Lakes Region Suburban Weekly (Windham/Naples, Maine), the Citizen (Sacopee Valley, Maine), the Reporter (Waterboro/Hollis, Maine), the Sun Chronicle (Saco/Old Orchard Beach, Maine), and online at VillageSoup.com (Belfast, Camden, Rockland, Maine).

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