Less than 10 hours until the Pats' 2012 playoff season kicks off, hopefully starting the road to another ring. Yesterday's games were good reminders of how having an elite QB isn't enough - both Manning and Rodgers ended up on the losing side, and those losses brought back some lessons from the Pats' own near misses in 2007, 2010 and 2011: - The 2007 team was perhaps the most dominant in NFL history, going 16-0 and setting a record for points scored. But the team peaked too early, other teams had a chance to adjust to our offense, the team was perhaps worn down by Spygate and the media frenzy, and by the constant grind of being every other team's target as they tried to go undefeated. Add in some injuries and some bad bounces, and it added up to heartbreak, though the team was still ever so close to history. - The 2010 team revamped its offense around the TEs in mid-season and went on an 8 game winning streak, crushing several playoff opponents en route. Brady set a record for most passes without an interception and got his second MVP, and the offense again put up 500 points, along with a 14-2 record and the #1 seed. We were the prohibitive SB favorites, but that didn't stop the Jets from bouncing us in the divisional round by flooding the middle of the field and daring us to run. Like yesterday's Green Bay team, that Pats' team was too much of a finesse team and was too deficient on defense and in the running department, even though it appeared dominant. - The 2011 team went 13-3 and got another #1 seed, again scoring 500 points. That team overcome injuries and a lack of talent on defense down the stretch to make it back to the SB, and again was within a few plays of another ring, only to again lose out to the Giants. The lessons of all this, and of yesterday's losses by Denver and Green Bay (not to mention Atlanta's loss to Green Bay in the 2010 playoffs): - The #1 seed and being favored means nothing - HFA doesn't guarantee anything - Teams that believe their own press releases and hype and take games lightly generally go home early - Having an elite QB isn't enough; the whole team needs to play hard, for all 4 quarters - Sitting back and playing passively - in a "fox hole", as BB put it - doesn't work well - The more physical team seems to frequently come out on top in playoff games, as it did in both games yesterday and in both our SB losses - A high scoring passing game is nice, but a running game and defense are crucial come playoff time; though neither of yesterday's games was a defensive struggle, Baltimore and SF limited the elite QBs, while Denver's D couldn't stop the deep bomb and GB's couldn't stop anything - Sometimes in spite of everything, it still comes down to luck and a few bounces I think this is the most complete Pats team since 2004 in terms of it's talent in all elements of the game and its depth. The team seems very focused and well aware of their moment in history, and that they need to seize the moment. Time to find out, starting today.