brady touchdown browns

All Rise.

I will always remember where I was when I found out Wes Welker had signed with the Denver Broncos.  It was a sunny spring afternoon.  I was in the park with my wife and son, and my thumb couldn't work my cell phone fast enough.  While I certainly felt uneasy about everything that was playing out, I didn't know that it would be the move that would keep the Patriots from reaching Super Bowl XLVIII.  

It was not because the Patriots would be unable to make up for his production.  Julian Edleman and his 100+ catches and 1000+ yards was as Welker-like as any player I've seen.  It was not because the Denver Broncos needed his catches to get past New England in the AFC Championship game.  He had a meager four catches for 38 yards.  No, Wes Welker cost the Patriots a legit shot at the Super Bowl because he took out one of the two players that New England absolutely could not afford to lose in Aqib Talib.

Once Talib was out of the game, the New England defense was powerless to stop Peyton Manning. Every drive other than the final kneel out ended in a score for the Broncos.  All season long, the Patriots had rallied despite losing their two starting interior defensive linemen, two starting linebackers, their starting right tackle, and their all-world tight end.  They had everyone shaking their heads, wondering how it was possible that this team could continue its winning ways.  As each injury piled up, we wondered how many more losses this team could endure.  Today, we got our answer.  

None.  

For the second AFC Championship in a row, Aqib Talib was taken out of commision.  For the second AFC Championship in a row, the floor fell out from under the New England defense the second he left the game.  I almost wonder if the Patriots would have been better off losing Brady than Talib.  That's how badly that injury hurt this team's chances.  

I wish this team had a fair shot at the Broncos today.  I don't know if they would have won, but I would have liked to at least see them have the chance.  The Broncos scored 26 points.  I can promise you they don't score 26 points with Aqib Talib playing all four quarters.  With the Broncos not chewing up five and seven minute drives, maybe Brady and the offense gets the ball a few more times, finds their groove and scores more than 16.  Again, I'm playing fantasy football at the moment and what's done is done. There's no sense in pondering what would have happened the rest of the game following such an early injury.  Still, I would have liked to see the Patriots have that chance.   This team fought so hard all season, they deserved to be taken out by a team that could rise up and flat-out beat them.  They didn't deserve to lose because of a illegal pick play by Wes Welker.  

This team refused to make excuses all season.  I won't diminish their heroic display this season by making any for them now.  I have never been prouder of any Patriots team.   That's not to say I haven't been as proud of others, but I've never been prouder.   And so, I bring to you, the final Risers and Fallers for the 2013 New England Patriots Season.

Risers:

Tom Brady QB
Ryan Mallett QB
LeGarrette Blount RB
Brandon Bolden RB
James Develin RB
Quentin Hines RB
Stevan Ridley RB
Shane Vereen RB
Danny Amendola WR
Josh Boyce WR
Austin Collie WR
Aaron Dobson WR
Julian Edelman WR
T.J. Moe WR
Matthew Slater WR
Kenbrell Thompkins WR
Rob Gronkowski TE
Michael Hoomanawanui TE
Matthew Mulligan TE
D.J. Williams TE
Logan Mankins G
Chris Barker OL
Marcus Cannon OL
Dan Connolly OL
Josh Kline OL
Brice Schwab OL
Ryan Wendell OL
Markus Zusevics OL
Elvis Fisher OT
Nate Solder OT
Will Svitek OT
Sebastian Vollmer OT
Jake Bequette DE
Andre Carter DE
Chandler Jones DE
Chris Jones DT
Sealver Siliga DT
Isaac Sopoaga DT
Michael Buchanan DL
Cory Grissom DL
Tommy Kelly DL
Rob Ninkovich DL
Joe Vellano DL
Vince Wilfork DL
Steve Beauharnais LB
Jamie Collins LB
Ja'Gared Davis LB
Dane Fletcher LB
Dont'a Hightower LB
Jerod Mayo LB
Chris White LB
Kyle Arrington CB
Alfonzo Dennard CB
Logan Ryan CB
Aqib Talib CB
Nate Ebner DB
Justin Green DB
Duron Harmon DB
Devin McCourty DB
Tavon Wilson DB
Kanorris Davis S
Steve Gregory S
Stephen Gostkowski PK
Ryan Allen P
Danny Aiken LS
Jerry Schuplinski Coach
Joe Judge Coach
Steve Belichick Coach
Brian Daboll Coach
Moses Cabrera Coach
Harold Nash Coach
George Godsey Coach
Chad O'Shea Coach
Brian Flores Coach
Patrick Graham Coach
Ivan Fears Coach
Josh Boyer Coach
Pepper Johnson Coach
Scot O'Brien Coach
Matt Patricia Defensive Coordinator
Josh McDaniels Offensive Coordinator
Dante Scarnecchia Assistant Head Coach
Bill Belichick Head Coach

 

Fallers: None

 

I couldn't be prouder.  

Derek Hanson

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.

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