I’ve watched other teams go through it over the past seven seasons, but the Patriots have been extremely lucky in avoiding the situation. Since Drew Bledsoe was knocked out of that Jets game back in 2001, we’ve always known who the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots was going to be.
And trust me when I tell you, we knew how lucky we were.
Sometimes it’s in early January, sometimes late January, and if you’re lucky, it’s early February, but when the previous season ends, you’re immediately looking forward to the next season. It’s one of the great things about the NFL; almost three quarters of the teams in the NFL have a legit shot at the playoffs.
Of those teams, probably half have a legit shot at the Super Bowl. And as the Giants proved last season, anything is possible, even for those teams without legit shots at the Super Bowl, going into the season.
You plan for opening day. You get into your favorite chair (or your lucky chair, if you’re like me). You crack open the first beer of the NFL season. You light up the first cigar of the NFL season.
Before you’re halfway through the beer, your season is over.
I’ve heard people calling the play a dirty play. The Globe is already on record calling it dirty. Randy Moss called it dirty. I don’t believe it was a dirty play.
To me, it was very similar to the Vince Wilfork play against J.P. Losman last season. It was an ill-advised play. It should have drawn a penalty. It will probably draw a fine.
But it wasn’t dirty. Bernard Pollard was well blocked. He had a 240-pound guy on top of him and a quarterback trying to make a big play in front of him. He did what he could to get to the quarterback.
Yes, he hit him low. Yes, he hit him in the knee. Yes, I want to find him and tear his lousy face off.
But I still don’t think Bernard Pollard is a dirty player, I don’t think he made a dirty play, and I don’t think I would have done anything differently if I were in his position.
Think about it. He doesn’t know Brady’s throwing the ball. If Brady tucks it back down, he has a sack. Brady probably isn’t hurt because he’s not in the process of stepping into a throw. And it ends up going down as a great play for Pollard.
I’ll check in later, maybe tomorrow or Tuesday, when I know the full extent of Tom Brady’s injury. But based on what I saw, Brady’s going to be out for a significant amount of time. I fear he’s gone for the season.
That being the case, it may be time to reassess the AFC East. The Jets looked pedestrian. The Patriots, without Tom Brady, are not the Patriots. And the Bills looked like world-beaters against the Seahawks.
Time to rally around (gulp) Matt Cassel. Time to see if Belichick was right and all of our lying eyes were wrong when we said during the preseason that this kid was terrible.
So far, against a bad Chiefs team, he was able to get to job done. But I’m not confident going into the Jets game next week.
Not confident at all.
UPDATE 10:00 PM EDT: Reports are all over the place that Tom Brady is done for the year with an ACL tear. Not sure how everyone knows this since Brady reportedly isn't getting an MRI until tomorrow. But suffice to say, it'll be Matt Cassel (or Chris Simms?) running this team for the foreseeable future.
I need a drink.
Update 12:00 AM EDT: I just saw a replay on the local news here, and I'm not 100 percent sure it wasn't a dirty hit anymore. Heat of the moment type thing, but he lunged for the knee. Still leaning towards unfortunate play, but I could be convinced it was dirty.
The Pats players sure do seem to think it was dirty...
Sean Crowe is a Senior Writer and an NFL Community Leader at Bleacher Report. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His archive can be found here. You can find everything he writes, including articles for other publications, here.