Closing the book on Patriots season

Even three days after the Patriots fell to the Ravens in the AFC Championship Game much of the talk in the Boston sports media remains the Patriots and their loss on Sunday. Every play and situation has been discussed, as well as finding common links in the Patriots recent playoff losses. Clearly, both Bill Belichick and Tom Brady deserve some of the blame for the loss, but some members of the media have a hard time in calling out the two for their poor performances on Sunday.

In getting to the AFC Championship game it’s hard to call a season a disappointment, but the way it ended was definitely disappointing. The Patriots did not play their best game and certainly were not 100 percent in health. The team did make some strides over the course of the season, especially on defense, and one would expect the Patriots to be right back in the AFC Championship Game next year with the hope of winning another Super Bowl before Brady’s historic career comes to an end.

Here are a look at some of the better reads from the past few days:

In their biggest game,  the Patriots failed to measure up– Greg A. Bedard is his final game review of the year, a must-read all year, has the team playing their worst game at the absolute worst time.

A five-point improvement plan for the Patriots– Tony Massarotti looks at what the team needs to do this off-season to get to the big game next year.

Patriots lost, but they didn’t fail– Ron Borges puts things in perspective saying things could be a lot worse like being Mark Sanchez in New York, or Scott Pioli in Kansas City.

Patriots roster breakdown– Jeff Howe breaks down the roster and what holes they may have going into next season.

Piecing together Patriots losses– Mike Reiss finds the common threads in each of the recent Patriots playoff losses.

Tom Brady in unfamilar place– Jackie MacMullan looks at Brady’s performance Sunday which was extremely disappointing.

Why Spygate doesn’t matter– Kirk Minihane puts an end to some people claiming Belichick and the Patriots haven’t accomplished anything since Spygate.

Hard to see a scenario where Aqib Talib sticks around– Christopher Price doesn’t think the Patriots cornerback will return next season.

Patriots led their opportunity slip away– Tom E. Curran says the Patriots failed to capitalize on their opportunities, especially early in the game, which ultimately was the reason for their season ending loss.

Belichick not in the wrong following Sunday’s loss

It almost seems like more has been made of what took place off the field following the AFC Championship game Sunday rather than what happened on the field during the game. Much has been made of Bill Belichick denying an interview to CBS following the game, and instead the Patriots having Devin McCourty speak to them. Many have called Belichick a “sore loser” and heavily criticized the coach for failing to give an exclusive interview to CBS, led by CBS analyst Shannon Sharpe.

Some have even said to look for a possible fine to be assessed to Belichick — don’t hold your breath. BSMW confirmed with an NFL media relations representative that Belichick did not violate the NFL’s media relations policy by not speaking with CBS following the game.

This raises the question of why was this made into such a big deal? Belichick sought out Ravens coach John Harbaugh following the game and told the Ravens coach the respect he had for them, something which Harbaugh really took to heart. Following addressing his team briefly in the locker room, Belichick took to the podium to answer questions from reporters for nearly 10 minutes. While he did not elaborate on his answers, that is standard Belichick. What else did people expect, especially following a season-ending loss in the AFC Championship game?

Belichick certainly isn’t the only losing coach in a championship game not to give an exclusive interview to the network which broadcasted the game. It is a very rare occurrence, in any sport, and when it does happen those coaches are often given great praise for doing so. Now, Belichick doesn’t do it and he gets killed for it. Furthermore, in case you missed it, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh didn’t give FOX an exclusive interview following their win over Atlanta, so why aren’t the same people who are criticizing Belichick doing the same to Harbaugh?

For whatever reason some people playing in the league, the media and fans in general have a dislike for Belichick. He gets held to a completely different standard than any other coach in the league, and maybe even in sports as a whole. Sure, he isn’t the best coach in the world with the media, but who said that’s required of being a head coach? His main job is to coach football and he is one of the best in the history of the game.

Everyone’s opinion differs on how Belichick handles the media, but whether you agree or disagree, you have to take a step back and say he didn’t do anything wrong by not speaking with CBS following Sunday’s loss. Even some of the best coaches with the media in sports have not spoken exclusively with networks following losses in Championship games and there was nothing being said about them. It should be no different with Belichick.

And let’s be real here, following the Super Bowl in two weeks, does anyone really think the losing Harbaugh brother will do an exclusive interview with CBS? Not particularly, but if they do hats off to them, and if they don’t, no big deal we’ll carry on.

Give me a follow on Twitter at @hannable84.

Patriots-Ravens Round 2

The Patriots may have caught a break with the Ravens beating the Broncos in Denver Saturday, meaning the Patriots will now host Baltimore in Sunday’s AFC Championship. Don’t think it will be an easy win, despite the early line set at -9.5. The Ravens are one of the few teams who have given the Patriots fits in the past and don’t give an inch when going toe to toe with Brady and New England.

In fact, Brady’s two worst playoff games have come against the Baltimore defense. In the teams’ 2010 season playoff matchup Brady was 23-42 for 153 yards, two touchdowns, but three interceptions for a QB rating of 49. in the Ravens’ 33-14 beat down. Brady did not play particularly well in last year’s AFC Championship game where the Patriots pulled put a 23-20 win. He finished 22-36 for 239 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions for a rating of 57.5.

For those keeping track of media member predictions, Michael Felger already gave his, saying the Ravens would upset the Patriots on Sunday. This despite being all over Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco all season long.

For full Patriots coverage visit Patriotslinks.com.

They were nothing special covering kicks– Shalise Manza Young looks back at Sunday’s game and how poor the Patriots special teams played, especially the kick off team.

Patriots report card– Ron Borges hands out his grades from Sunday’s win. For the most part they were very good.

No introductions needed for AFC title game– Tony Massarotti says these teams know each other so well and it always is a one possession game, so the opening line of -9.5 is way too high.

Refresher on Patriots-Ravens– Mike Reiss looks back at the two teams’ matchup from Week 3, but notes a lot has changed for both teams since the game.

Patriots quietly take out any trash talk– Jeff Howe has the Patriots, as expected, not giving in to any trash talk despite what a few Ravens have said.

Why Patriots could beat Ravens– Kirk Minihane says unlike the Houston game, there is a chance Baltimore could pull off an upset Sunday.

Curran: I don’t see Ravens as a threat– Tom E. Curran doesn’t think the Ravens will pose much of a threat on Sunday.