NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

January 22, 2013

Pats season ends with 'crash landing' and no title

FOXBOROUGH — Tom Brady stood helplessly with his hands on his hips after his tipped pass was intercepted. He walked slowly to the sideline, removed his helmet and sat on the bench.

A fourth-quarter comeback chance was gone. The end of his season was less than seven minutes away.

Playoff games leave teams with “either euphoria or crash landing.

“For us,” New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday, “it was crash landing.”

Not even the NFL’s best offense or an improving young defense could soften the blow. The 28-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game Sunday night left the Patriots without a Super Bowl title for the eighth straight year and sent them into an offseason when they could lose two key players.

Wide receiver Wes Welker and cornerback Aqib Talib can become free agents.

Belichick, of course, will be back.

“Yeah. I’ll be here. You’ll have to deal with me again next year,” the coach, known for revealing little to reporters, said in a rare light-hearted moment during his season-ending news conference. “I know that’s disappointing for a lot of you. Until I’m told otherwise, I plan on being here.”

Belichick, the NFL’s longest tenured coach, is looking ahead to his 14th season with the Patriots. He led them to Super Bowl wins in his second, fourth and fifth seasons — but none since.

Only Brady and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork remain from any of those championship teams.

“That whole era is over with. It’s gone,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich said. “This is a whole new team. This is a different bunch of guys so we all have to experience it and learn for ourselves what that’s like.”

The Patriots did reach the Super Bowl twice in the five seasons before this one. They lost both to the New York Giants, the latest coming last season. Then they stocked their defense with draft choices — end Chandler Jones, linebacker Dont’a Hightower, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and safety Tavon Wilson.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Tiger Woods: 1 on 1 3 Questions with Gary Payton: Kevin Love, Andrew Wiggins and Derrick Rose Players Only: Marcus Mariota's Course Load at Oregon How We Almost Got Johnny Cowboy Donald Sterling Loses The Clippers For Good - @TheBuzzeronFox Franklin talks leaving Vandy Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX Michael Jordan OK With LeBron James Wearing No. 23? - @TheBuzzeronFox The Cornhuskers have gone...Loco? McNabb: Two games is not acceptable for me Ortiz, Price Feud Is Upsetting To Children - @TheBuzzeronFOX MLB Trade Deadline Talk: Price, Stanton, Kemp Tony Romo will be a full-go for camp Teammate's Advice For Johnny Manziel & Josh Gordon - @TheBuzzeronFox Helfrich praises Mariota's commitment to improve Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent First impressions of Giants' new up-tempo offense Athletic Gaines: Where LeSean McCoy, Kenjon Barner, and more prepare for NFL season
Special Features