After everything the New England Patriots overcame during the 2013 season, it seemed like they had become a “team of destiny.”
But destiny doesn’t exist in pro football. And when all was said and done, the Denver Broncos were the more talented team playing in the AFC Championship Game. That’s why Peyton Manning, not Tom Brady, is going to the Super Bowl.
The Patriots’ season was highlighted by comeback victories and injuries. At the end, the Patriots couldn’t overcome an injury to mount a comeback.
It all started before the season even began. Rob Gronkowski‘s forearm wouldn’t heal, and his back started acting up again. Defensive tackle Armond Armstead underwent a mysterious surgery, and Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder. The chips were stacked against the Patriots.
The regular season didn’t go swimmingly, either. Starters Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, Tommy Kelly, Sebastian Vollmer and Brandon Spikes were all lost for the season in succession. It seemed like most of the team got hurt to varying degrees of severity at some point, and Gronkowski’s seven games were an oasis in an otherwise difficult season for Brady. Nothing came easy for the 2013 Patriots.
Nearly every win was a grind. And for anything good that happened, it seemed like something just as daunting occurred in the process.
No one can say the Patriots didn’t have any fight left in them for the AFC Championship Game. They came out flat but did everything they could to make it a game by the end. Some questionable coaching decisions and a failed two-point conversion finally did them in.
Statistically, it wasn’t Brady’s best season by a long shot. And years from now, Brady’s 2013 stats will look like either a blip in an otherwise stellar career or what signaled the beginning of the end for the future Hall of Famer.
But numbers don’t do Brady’s year justice. He lost wide receivers Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch, running back Danny Woodhead and Hernandez before the season even began. Along the way, injuries prevented rookie wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins from every fully stepping up. Brady was without running back Shane Vereen, wide receiver Danny Amendola and Gronkowski for portions of the season as well.
The season will look like just another winning record for Bill Belichick. But it was so much more for both Belichick the head coach and general manager. The GM found players like defensive tackles Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga, and the coach made rookies like cornerback Logan Ryan and linebacker Jamie Collins into key contributors.
Belichick didn’t make all the right moves or coaching decisions, but he and Brady were the sole reasons the Patriots were able to win as many as 13 games. It all ended when cornerback Aqib Talib injured his knee at the beginning of the second quarter on Sunday. But that doesn’t take away from what Belichick, Brady or gamers like wide receiver Julian Edelman accomplished.