I'm too frustrated to put my thoughts into coherent sentences. But here's what I have for you this morning.
The Broncos defense was nothing short of amazing. As good as any defense I've seen the Patriots go up against in a playoff game, including that of the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. Wade Philip's gang pressured Brady and blanketed his receivers at a championship level.
Tom Brady's struggles look to be solely related to his offensive line being, sorry for the pun, offensive but that takes away from the job completed by Denver's defense. Anyone who thinks Super Bowl 50 is going to be a rout best watch the film from yesterday. I'm not sure Denver will beat the Panthers but their defense will keep them in the game unlike when they were humiliated by the Panthers two years ago.
Peyton Manning gets one more crack at a second Super Bowl. While his role in the offense has changed from play maker to game manager, he's still vital to the Broncos chances. If he can orchestrate a few scoring drives early in the game, Denver has a chance. On the other hand, if he gets pressured by the Carolina defensive line and is sliding to avoid sack after sack, the Broncos are in deep trouble.
Finally, I'm not going to play the "what if" game with this team. I grew up as a Patriots fan who could not count on watching home games because they rarely sold out home games. Who could blame the fans of a quarter century ago? The ownership and management were bad and they consistently put out a bad product.
The 22 years of the Kraft Family's ownership, and especially the 16 years with Bill Belichick making the football decisions, have been fabulous. I've watched them play in seven Super Bowls since 1996, winning four. They've been to eleven AFC Championship Games in that same time frame.
Sure, it's frustrating to watch your team lose on the big stage but please, have some perspective Patriots fans. A fan of the Browns, Lions, or Jaguars would love to even be in a Conference Championship Game, let alone the ten that Brady and Belichick have gone to since the 2001 season. Enjoy every moment of this historic run because, sadly, it's going to end in the not to distant future.
They were close. Really close. But they've also been really close to losing in the championships that they have won. Football can be a crazy game, 60 minutes of violent hits and execution of game plans often comes down to a weird bounce or a few inches and that's what makes it such a wonderful game to follow.
Take a few days. Maybe even skip the Super Bowl. Then get ready to follow the offseason moves, the offseason workouts, the preseason, and (hopefully) another season with the Patriots being one of a small handful of teams that has a real shot at winning the Lombardi Trophy.