In Mourning

Sunday, January 16, 2011, 23:27 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments


It is an age-old question, something so far beyond the grasp of mere humans to understand, right up there with “What is the meaning of life?” and “Why do bad things happen to good people?” There are some question to which there are simply no answers, so asking “Why?” is a futile exercise.

The New England Patriots are out of the playoffs.

Some might say that there is indeed a reason, that the offense was sloppy and missed opportunities, that the kicking unit used the onside kick at the wrong time, that quarterback Tom Brady should have gone no-huddle at the end. But those issues are mere symptoms of the larger problem, which is that it isn’t supposed to be this way. The universe is out of balance.

The Patriots were the top playoff seed in the AFC and had the best regular-season record in the NFL (14-2), despite a difficult start when the defense struggled and they were forced to break in a new kicker. After their first-round bye and a week of trash-talking of the perennially classless New York Jets, it seemed that divine justice was on the Pats’ side.

That’s why the game result is so inexplicable. The good guys are supposed to win. Sure, receiver Wes Welker might have had just a tiny bit of fun earlier this week picking on Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s foot fetish (though I remain unconvinced that was Welker’s intent and challenge anyone to cite even one inappropriate thing he said). But he wasn’t being the least bit critical or rude, unlike the Jets’ potty-mouthed cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who had his boxers in a bunch because the eeeeevil Brady apparently (gasp!) points at the opposing sideline after scoring. Or something.

In case you need some help grasping just how monumental the travesty that was today’s game is, contemplate that the top team in each conference is one and out, the NFC’s Atlanta Falcons having lost in spectacular fashion yesterday to Green Bay. In next week’s AFC championship game, I have to choose between the Jets and the Steelers, which is a little like having to choose between dying by smothering or drowning. Better yet, I should just ignore football. The results hold no interest for me now.

For us New Englanders, there will be no AFC championship game. There will be no Super Bowl. Many of us probably won’t even watch the Pro Bowl, despite the many Patriots selected to play. The next significant sporting event for us comes in 29 days, when Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Florida. Maybe if our baseball boys of summer can get off to a roaring start, it will help us forget about the cosmically unfair way our boys of winter finished.

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