When the Patriots lost in Denver, I was pissed. I wanted perfection. Going undefeated seemed like a real possibility. But now that loss No. 1 is out of the way and done with, yesterday's unexpected defeat at the hands of Philadelphia doesn't really bother me.
The 10-2 Pats still have the inside track on a first-round playoff bye because the 10-2 Bengals and 10-2 Broncos play each other the last week of the season--that's not even really my line of thinking though.
Here's how I see it: The Eagles debacle was a regression-to-the-mean game. For so long, things kept going right for New England. No matter how good you are, it takes a lot of luck to get to 10-0. Yesterday, everything finally went the other way. A 99-yard interception return for a touchdown, a punt return for a touchdown and a punt block for a touchdown?! That's what it took for Philly to beat the Patriots and something like that isn't going to happening again. It's good to get that out of the way and move on.
The best teams at the beginning of the season don't usually win the Super Bowl (look at last year's Pats, as well as four of the seven previous champions). It's virtually impossible to keep momentum going all year long (see 2008). Getting hot down the stretch is what matters. Now New England can refocus and move forward while trying to build new momentum.
Oh yeah, and don't forget the Pats got the ball at their own 29-yard line with 7:45 to go trailing 35-14, then came within a few plays of sending it to overtime. I'm more encouraged by the near-miraculous comeback than I am discouraged by everything that happened in the game until then.