Patriots’ season ends in a crash landing with loss to Titans

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 21: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts during the first half against the Buffalo Bills in the game at Gillette Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 21: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts during the first half against the Buffalo Bills in the game at Gillette Stadium on December 21, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images) /

The 2019 Patriots season was a rollercoaster ride… and the ride finally ended rather abruptly in a 20-13 loss to the Titans last night.

In a season where one heard a lot of ‘if’ it was just a matter of ‘when’ the Patriots troubles would come back to bite them, it finally happened Saturday night at Gillette Stadium with a 20-13 loss to Tennessee.

Upset? A little bit.

Disappointed? Yes.

Confused? Affirmative.

Grateful? You damn well better be.

Despite New England’s 12-4 regular season record and first Wild Card round exit since 2009, one can’t help but reminisce over the last 20 years and say how lucky they are to live during what’s considered by many to be the best run that American professional sports has ever seen by a team.

Six Super Bowl championships in nine appearances, a stretch of eight straight AFC championship games, and 17 division titles. Countless records, and even more memories.

However, in 2019, a season in which these Patriots featured a 42-year-old quarterback with an impending free agency splash for the first time in his illustrious career, an offense with a pair of rookie receivers, and a hole where their All-Pro tight end used to be, the Pats just didn’t have enough gas in the tank.

It showed against the Titans.

The defense was good all season, and great at certain points. But, as the man with the cut-off sleeves always says, it takes all three phases to win the game.

The Patriots offense was able to find the endzone just once, and it came on a jet-sweep to Julian Edelman from five yards out. Other than that, the only other New England scoring came on a pair of field goals from Nick Folk.

On the Titans side of the ball, quarterback Ryan Tannehill only threw the ball 15 times for 72 yards.

However, Derrick Henry had his number called 34 times and rumbled over, around, and through the Patriots front seven for 182 yards and a TD. Henry accounted for 76% of Tennessee’s total offense.

Tom Brady finished the game 20/37 for 209 yards and an interception. A pick-six by former teammate Logan Ryan after Brady’s pass deflected off the chest of Mohamed Sanu sealed the win for Tennessee.

There will be people that blame the loss, or even the season, on Brady. There will be people that say this is the end of the dynasty.

To each his own.

To put this season’s shortcomings on Brady is utterly ridiculous.

He was forced to work with a 33-year-old and thoroughly-injured receiver that probably shouldn’t be carrying as big of a load as he is, a 38-year-old tight end who was retired last offseason, two rookie receivers, a wideout that appeared to have stone hands (Sanu), and a trio of running backs that rotated as a de facto No. 2 receiver.

Not to mention a season-ending injury to his starting center, plus his starting left tackle missing 10 games.

With all that stacked against him? Brady still put up 4,057 yards with 24 touchdowns. Bottom line is the Patriots didn’t give him the help he needed – or deserved, for that matter.

An immediate reaction is to be upset or frustrated. And the average fan may feel that way.

Fine, rightfully so. Call it the end of the dynasty if you wish.

However, keep in mind who’s been at the helm of this machine for the last two decades, and the amount of competitiveness that lives inside all three of those men.

I realize that the future is in question now more than ever with Tom Brady’s contract voiding at the start of the new league year on March 18th (if the Patriots can’t come to terms on an extension with the future Hall of Fame QB).

But from Brady’s comments last night saying it’s “pretty unlikely” he would consider retirement, that opens the door for a possible return to New England.

However, may I be adamant when I say that No. 12 being under center in Foxborough next season is far from a lock.

Change is certainly on the horizon for the NFL’s most-hated squad, as they have a number of key free agents set to hit the open market including Matthew Slater, Kyle Van Noy, Devin McCourty, and Jamie Collins.

Most, if not all, of the names on the Patriots free agent list are valuable contributors, and it will be hard to replace them all, but at the top of the list is their quarterback.

That decision alone will alter the course of the franchise for at least the near future.

Almost a full 24 hours removed from the clock hitting 0:00, it’s absolutely impossible to predict the future of Tom Brady. However, my assumption is there’s still some unfinished business in Foxborough. It seems as though Brady wants to play, and whether or not this is where he wants to do it is a whole different discussion.

In Bill Belichick’s exit press conference this morning, he made it clear that nobody has thought about the future, and Tom Brady’s impending future with the team is something he refused to comment on.

As we head toward one of the most unpredictable offseasons in recent memory, keep one thing in mind: you will NEVER see another coach, quarterback, team, or run of success like the one the Patriots have built, ever again.

Be appreciative of what you’ve been privileged to witness, because from now on, this dynasty is running on borrowed time.

We can all have an opinion of what the Patriots should do or will do in the coming months, but let’s all take a moment to digress and soak in the rest of the playoffs before we go too in-depth with the offseason.

There is one thing we should ALL be able to agree on: should Tom Brady not be in a Patriot jersey come kickoff in 2020, it will be extremely hard to swallow.

Next. Titans upend Patriots in Wild Card Round. dark

Before I wrap up, I wanted to take the time in this article to thank each and every one of you that’s read, interacted with, and supported my work throughout this season. None of this is possible without you guys, and you truly don’t have any idea how appreciated you are. Thank you.

Onto the offseason.