New England Patriots - "There's No 'Die' in Dynasty"
"There's No 'Die' in Dynasty"
Written by DeROK
Sunday, 25 September 2005
The Patriots display their will to win in a gutsy victory over the Steelers.
As Rodney Harrison writhed in pain on Heinz field, it all seemed to be falling apart so fast. We had triumphed with a patchwork secondary before. But how were we supposed to replace Rodney? This wasn't a washed-up Drew Bledsoe, a malcontented Lawyer Milloy, or a divisive Ty Law. It wasn't even Tedy Bruschi, a player who excelled due to instinct more than talent. Rodney Harrison was the total package. Rodney Harrison was our thoroughbred. Other than Tom Brady, he is arguably the most valuable man in the Patriots locker room. The prospects of enduring the next thirteen games without him were beyond daunting, especially in light of our past two performances, a sloppy game against the Raiders, followed by a sloppier loss to the Panthers. Despite my insistence that the Patriots would be able to rise above their absences, it appeared that maybe losing Romeo Crenel, Charlie Weis, all at once had proven to be too much. Perhaps like the Packers, Steelers, Niners, and Cowboys, before us, the curtain was falling on our time in the spotlight. And to tell the truth, I was okay with it all.
Three trophies on the shelf go a long way in numbing the pain of a loss. Boredom really helps as well. I don't want to sound spoiled, but last season was by far the least thrilling of all our championship seasons. Most of the games, including the playoffs, were blowouts. The real excitement came from proving all the critics wrong who had built up Indy and Pittsburgh as unstoppable. But there was nothing about those games that got your blood pumping in the fourth quarter. As an encore to the 2003 season in which almost every game was an instant ESPN Classic, 2004 was a colossal let-down. And while you'll still have trouble finding a fan more dedicated than I am, my heart just wasn't into this season, this team like I was in the past. After all we'd been through, it appeared that there was nothing on the horizon nearly as exciting as the places we'd already been. We had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Beat the Colts and nobody's surprised. Lose to them, and everyone pounces on the chance to tarnish your legacy. If we had reached the point where there was too much pressure and too little potential to keep fighting, I could accept it. If this team decided to take the big top down and head out of town, I would have understood.
When Matt Light went down a few minutes later, I knew we had reached a cross-road. Contrary to what was being preached by the announcers, this was not at all like last year's foray in Pittsburgh. Yes, our players were dropping like flies. But this season we wouldn't have the luxury of fixing the problem over the next couple of weeks. Last year's game was the only one Corey Dillon missed. Deion Branch had plenty of people behind him in the depth chart. You can replace Ty Law with Troy Brown, but who's replacing Rodney - especially when you're already missing Tedy Bruschi? There was no "next week" for the Patriots. Not with a 1-2 start looming. Not with San Diego, Atlanta, and Denver next on the schedule. The season, the dynasty, rested upon the hobbled Patriots' ability rally in a hostile environment against the most complete opponent they will face this year. Given the way the season had gone so far, the situation looked beyond dire.
But these were the Patriots - a team named after a group of people, who, despite their hostile surroundings and formidable foe, rose above the elements to win freedom for a nation. This is the team who was able to take that same nation, on its knees after a horrific terrorist attack, and send it rising to its feet during the biggest upset in the history of the NFL. These were the heroes who built their legacy on the principle of "Never Give Up". And on that Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh, in one of the gutsiest performances ever by a team whose specialty is the gutsy performance, the New England Patriots proved that there is no "Die" in "Dynasty".
Tom Brady proved once and for all that while he may not be the most talented, toughest, or statistically superior quarterback in the league, he is hands-down, flat-out, no-doubt-about-it the best one there is. His teammates proved that they have more heart and more determination to win than any other squad in the league. And Adam Vinatieri further cemented the fact that he's still the cold-blooded closer that every team should fear.
I made the comment earlier that I had begun to get a little bit bored with the Patriots. I couldn't have been more wrong to feel that way. And it isn't because they managed to pull off a last second victory. That kick didn't get my adrenaline pumping anywhere close to how it was during the Snow Game in 2002. After 36 in our last 41 games, the wins just don't feel nearly as good as they used to. And there's no way a fourth title will cause the same euphoria the first one did. I was wrong to feel bored about the Patriots because this team is about so much more than winning. This team is about sticking together and holding on when the situation seems impossible, about digging down deep and clawing your way out no matter how tough it gets. This team is about never speaking the words "I Quit". And there's nothing boring about that.