Why? Why? Why? Why? WHY?
Without question, this New England Patriots season will go down in infamy as the dumbest ever. Decades from now, when young children roam the hallowed Hall of Fame in Foxboro, they will make their way past the photos and memorabillia of this decade's greatness and end their journey through the 00's with an exhibit called "2009: The Year of Stupidity". There they will be treated to a number of interactive exhibits such as "You Make the Call", where kids will get to chose between punting the ball from your own 28 yard line, or going for it on 4th and 2. They'll giggle with glee as they experience "Laurence Maroney's Goal Line Fumble Fest", or "Who Wants to Watch the Receiver Run Right Past You? with guest host, Jonathan Wilhite. When they're finally done with all the fun, those children will move onto the 2010 wing, and when they do, they will pass a bronze statue of a receiver on a stretcher with a towel draped over his head. Many will run right past it, full of anticipation to get their very own 1st round pick by playing "Let's Make a Deal with Al Davis", but some will stop and admire the statue. One or two may even ask, "Daddy, who is that man?" And that father will shake his head and begrudgingly answer, "He's the crowning achievement of Bill Belichick's stupidity".
Like the Crying Indian of the 70's, the image of Wes Welker above will serve as this generation's reminder of a beautiful things can go to waste if we don't take care of them. It's not that I didn't want Wes Welker to be in the game. In fact, I wanted the Patriots to play every able body on their roster against the Texans. I wanted to keep the momentum, take the 3rd seed, finish 11-5, and give this young team a taste of what it will be like to play against a team whose season is on the line. That being said, Bill Belichick's approach to the game accomplished almost none of those goals. They lost any momentum they may have had. If they get the third seed, it will be by default. They are now 1-6 in true road games this year. They blew yet another 4th quarter lead, surrendering a horrendous 21 points in the final fifteen minutes. They lost the game, and more importantly, they have probably lost Wes Welker.
Injuries happen. Wes Welker could have just as easily gone down this week in practice with a similar injury. It's not like he was tackled or hit hard. The knee just buckled on him. It could have been ready to go on him at any moment. However, there's a big difference between losing a star player because you're giving your all to win and losing a star player in a game that you're treating as an exhibition. If the Patriots weren't going to try to win that game, then sit Brady, sit Moss, and sit Welker. Sit whoever you can spare and still march out a complete roster. Why risk injury for a game that you're content to lose? If you're going to lose Welker by going balls to the wall building up steam for the playoffs, you have my blessing. But there's absolutely no reason to put your season in that type of jeopardy if you're going to pull Tom Brady for the potential game-tying drive.
The Patriots' effort in Houston was a disgrace all around. Not only did they fold yet again in the 4th quarter, but they completely disrespected Wes Welker by giving up on a game that he gave his knee to win. Despite the many highs of this decade, there have still been a fair amount of low points as well. Whether you want to call this the tail end of '09 or the very start of '10, in my book, this game easily ranks among the lowest. I entered today with Super Bowl aspirations. I now sit here with zero confidence in my team's defense, serious doubts about my coach, and without the league's top receiver.
Who called this Week 17 game a meaningless one?