The New England Patriots are by any standard a very successful franchise. Their record is unparalleled having won the most games of any team since their last Super Bowl win in 2004.
The Patriots have also made the post season most frequently since their last Super Bowl appearing in 8 of 9 playoffs and hold more individual and team records since 2000, then I care to address in this post.
Yet they have not won a Superbowl for eight years and after losing to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game they are once again bridesmaids. No one knows how to deal with disappointments better than the Patriots.
By any standard the Patriots can be considered a team of missed opportunities and “what ifs”. But the Patriots do not engage in “what ifs” or feel sorry for themselves. They move forward trying to improve and get better. If only we all had that mentality.
I talk to people every day who look back on missed opportunities and repeatedly go over how they might have handled a situation differently, or for that matter imagine or question why others acted the way they did.
This is all done in an attempt to make them feel better or at times question why they are subjected to either having bad luck, karma, or in the more extreme cases— some are certain that they are cursed.
Dealing with disappointments is part of life and how people process and cope with them is crucial to how they are going to move on, recover and hopefully persist.
I can certainly see how Patriot fans at this stage might be a bit frustrated coming all so close but yet so far on so many occasions . It is hard to determine which losses were the most painful but my best guess would be the two Super Bowl losses to the Giants where Eli Manning made two miracle throws to beat them.
This season in particular has been one of the most frustrating seasons filled with consternation and angst.
Having rebuilt both the offense and defense with a combination of youth and veteran talent Bill Belichick who continually wins with what he has, lost three out of his best four players.
They were an odds on pick to seriously contend for the Super Bowl at the start of the season, however, with the exception of Tom Brady the Pats have lost three irreplaceable players, DT Vince Wilfork, LB Jarod Mayo and TE Rob Gronkowski.
If you count additional games lost by wide receivers, and the loss of back-up offensive and defensive lineman you have to wonder how the Patriots achieved what they did. Moreover they did not miss a beat after the Aaron Hernandez fiasco.
While nothing is certain one has to wonder if the Patriots had their full arsenal of players how far they would have gotten this season. It was a miracle that they made it to the AFC championship game.
It is widely known that the Patriots have a “next man up” philosophy which has held them in great stead over the years. Moreover there are few complaints if any when blown calls go against them, and they most frequently point to their own missed opportunities or poor play. And finally, nothing short of winning and winning it all is the goal.
This mentality and culture has been instilled by Bill Belichick and espoused by his quarterback Tom Brady. It is often a model and standard for many in corporate America.
Since last winning the Super Bowl in 2004 the Patriots have accomplished the following:
2005-Lost the Divisional Playoffs to the Broncos
2006-Lost Conference Championship game to the Colts
2007-Lost the Super Bowl to the Giants
2008-11-5 Did not make the playoffs
2009-Lost Wild Card Playoffs to Ravens
2010—Lost Divisional Playoffs to Jets
2011-Lost Super Bowl to Giants
2012-Lost Conference Championship to Ravens
2013—Loss AFC Championship game
If you measure success as winning the most games then the Patriots by far have accomplished the most.
Most teams profess that they want to give themselves a shot to win it all by getting into the playoffs. And it then becomes who gets the hottest and goes on a roll from there.
However if you look at success as winning the Super Bowl which is the only thing that counts for the Patriots, then they have not been successful. Based upon that thinking they did not accomplish their goal.
Belichick when presented with a realistic excuse by an understanding press about how this team was injury ravaged and had overachieved, quickly dismissed it and correctly surmised that the organization and particularly himself, did not do enough to win the game.
Since winning their last Super Bowl in many of the last nine seasons the Patriots had a good chance to win it all. Yet for various reasons each season had its own individual story and disappointing ending.
The Pats and their fans are going to look back and say once again–what might have been.
But I almost forgot the Patriots do not indulge themselves in such thinking, and predictably Belichick will sum it up and say that he was disappointed but is moving on to the next season– always looking to improve and get better.
It is the most effective way to deal with disappointments, and a way of thinking that we all might consider adopting