I'm sure the title of this thread will get some people's blood boiling, so don't worry, it's only kind of true. Thanks to Patspsycho for a great breakdown of the game. I hope you like this perspective; I feel that whether you agree with it or not, it's at least a fresh take on the Pats recent playoff failures, rather than the stale national articles that are pretty stupid and focus on trash talk and legacies. To understand the team's greatest flaw, you just have to look inward. To sense what the players and coaches are thinking during the game, just pay attention to your own emotions. It's 2004. The Patriots start the game with a terrible interception, but the psyched out visiting team misses an easy field goal. Brady drives down the field, and despite a bad drop for a sure six points, a clutch Adam Vinatieri nails one through to give us a 3-0 lead. The crowd goes nuts. Classic opportunistic Patriots. They should have scored but didn't. We did. We capitalized. The tone has been set. It's 2010. Same scenario. As fans, we are filled with dread. We can sense that we just blew the game. Heck, we should be up 14-0. Oh no. This isn't good. But what if... what if... we actually have to play four quarters of football? What if this game is decided by a field goal? What if the defense needs to make a key stop, or the offense needs to win the game in the waning seconds? What if we can't force them to play from a 10 point deficit? Admit it. You had no confidence. Neither did the team. Or the coaches. CBS commentators all picked the Patriots to win by a large margin, but they all warned that in a close game, they'd pick the Jets. They probably would have been right, had the Patriots not been so afraid to engage in a grind-it-out nail biter, perhaps it would have been close. That said, does that really sound like a championship team in blue and silver? The dread of actually having to play four quarters effects everything and the Patriots philosophy has been morphed into the Colts. Front runners. Yes, the dreaded words. Build a huge lead. Pray it doesn't come down to the end. Pray we can confuse them so badly on offense that we won't have to grind it out. Pray our defense doesn't need to make a key stop. Pray Brady throws 4 TD passes and we can order a pizza at halftime. When is the last time the Patriots felt good about punting the football? I can't remember. I do remember the days when taking a safety against Denver, counting on the defense to stuff the Broncos on a three-and-out, and driving down the field in the waning seconds was a brilliant move. Think Belichick makes the same call now? I didn't think so. Now I see 4th and 2 at Indianapolis. I see a lot of going for it on 4th and long. Plenty of dread that, even if we kick a field goal, it's only three points, and we need more. Three points used to be good. Now it's an epic buzz kill. Do you think the Steelers, Jets, Packers, or Bears are groaning when they need to punt the ball and pin a team back? Or upset when their kicker drills one through the uprights? Didn't think so. Well, that is why they are there and we are done. Fans, coaches, and players are united. We don't want a low-scoring, high blood pressure game. We have no faith in our team to pull it out. Admit it: while you wanted the Pats to humiliate the Jets, you prayed for them to win by a comfortable margin for other reasons as well. Pat Chung felt it, just like us. Championship teams happily leave the field down 7-3 at their own stadium, receiving the ball in the second half. Teams that believe in themselves understand that there's another half of football, and the fourth quarter is going to be a nightmare for the other team. The Steelers knew it. They erased a 21-7 deficit to beat a 12-4 team. They believed in themselves. Chung's emotions mirrored our own. We need our 30. We need to score, and score big. We must make them play from behind. Can't blame him. We would have taken the same big chance. We panicked from our couches as well. The thought of trailing by 4 points frightened us. The playoffs are like diamonds. The higher the pressure, the more clear and defined the team becomes. Now you see how much faith there truly is in certain philosophies and strategies. The Jets dared the Patriots to run, putting seven defensive backs on the field many times; sometimes they used nine. Just like we don't believe in our players in close games, and we don't believe in our defense anymore, we also don't truly believe in our running game. Sure, BenJarvis Green-Ellis had 1000 yards. Danny Woodhead sparkled all year. We had a brand new Sammy Morris on the sidelines waiting to take his first licks of the season. When push came to shove, the Patriots did what the Jets knew they would. They put the ball in the hands of Tom Brady and the passing game. Played right into the Jets schemes. With the pressure on, we believed the chances of success were greater with Brady throwing against a defense that wants him to throw, rather than running the ball against a defense that conceded at least five yards every play. Went into shotgun spreads with an empty backfield. Deep down the Patriots never really bought into the running game either. Neither did we. Let's admit it. When all the chips are on the table, under the enormous pressure of an elimination game, we want Brady throwing the ball. We don't want our defense to need to win the game. We don't want the score to be close. We panic. So do the Patriots. The Jets knew this. We wonder what went wrong, but we really know it. The players feel the same angst that we do; perhaps not as strongly with all of their adrenaline rushing, but they feel it to. Call the game a fluke. Say it was a choke. Say they were outcoached. But you know it was deeper than that, more fundamental. No one stepped up. The Jets had eleven guys on the field that all believed they could win the game, each believing he would make the difference, believing they needed to pick each other up. Believed in each other. Where do we go from here? This was one expensive lesson, a huge missed opportunity. But this team is very young and talented with lots of amazing football players and superior coaching. The question is, when will this actually be a team again? A team is 53 players; not 1 player when the season is on the line. Not just a passing offense that needs to annihilate the opposition so that the game plan will work. Until that team has developed, we will not be champions. The Patriots will likely bulk up on defense this offseason, perhaps even draft another star running back, but it won't matter until the coaches can look at these guys and tell them "we need you to win the game for us." Until then, it's just a collection of talent. It's 52 guys to not lose the game, and 1 guy to win it. When the team starts wanting the game to come down the final seconds, knowing someone will step up, that's when they will return to their championship pedigree. And we will know as fans when the time is right, because we will be confident, not dreadful, at the thought of playing a competitive, hard-fought game. -ice_ice_brady. Not to be republished without permission.