The Atlantic

What the Patriots’ Wild-Card Loss Really Means

Even before Saturday’s game, New England was showing signs of having been passed by.
Source: USA Today / Reuters

Even before Saturday’s AFC wild-card game against the Tennessee Titans, a sense of finality clung to the New England Patriots. The week prior, in the last game of the regular season, they had lost to the woeful Miami Dolphins, a result that dropped them out of the AFC’s top two seeds and kept them from an opening-round playoff bye for the first time in a decade. In the days before the Titans game, outlets and wondered whether this might be Tom Brady’s last appearance in his home stadium; his contract’s playoff projections gave them only a of winning the Super Bowl. Tony Romo, the CBS broadcaster calling the game, noted the fans’ nervousness. “This could really be it,” he said. “The crowd knows it.”

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