The New England Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos by a score of 20-18 in the AFC Championship Game, and each player seems more eager than the next to accept the blame.
After kicker Stephen Gostkowski told reporters he felt like he lost New England the game, quarterback Tom Brady was equally critical of himself. However, anyone would be quick to point out it was New England’s offensive line, not Brady, who was responsible for the future Hall of Famer’s poor performance.
Brady was hit a total of 23 times and was never able to get comfortable in the pocket. The Broncos’ vaunted defensive line lived up to its reputation, routinely pressuring Brady into uncharacteristic throws.
Despite receiving such little help from his offensive line, Brady expressed disappointment in himself, saying, “When you play quarterback, you’re going to take hits. You have to stand in there and make throws. There are no excuses for me for not getting the job done.” Brady also credited Denver’s defensive line, calling them “the strength of the Broncos.”
Denver was able to rush four and leave seven men in coverage, making it difficult for Brady to connect with his usual playmakers. Wide receiver Julian Edelman had a disappointing 7-catch, 53-yard performance, as he struggled to create separation from lockdown corner Chris Harris Jr.
The only bright spot for New England was tight end Rob Gronkowski, who frequently beat double coverage and made plays for Brady. The final drive was an absolute clinic by Gronkowski, as he and Brady were the sole reason New England found itself a two-point conversion away from sending the game to overtime.
But on New England’s final offensive play, much like the majority of the game, the defensive line got pressure on Brady, and he was unable to complete the pass to his intended receiver.
Even in defeat, Brady remained optimistic after the game, saying, “Our guys fought hard. I’m proud of all the guys for what they tried to accomplish. We just came up one play short to a very good football team.”
Brady came up two wins short from completing his “Ultimate Roger Goodell Revenge Tour,” but you can be certain he and New England will be back and better than ever next season.