The Patriots are down, but they’re not out.

New England’s regular season ended on a sour note, as the reigning Super Bowl champions let a first-round bye slip through their fingers via a stunning home loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The Patriots now will have to play on wild-card weekend for the first time in a decade.

Arguably no team in the AFC could have used the bye more than the Patriots, who struggled mightily for the majority of the second half of the season and are dealing with injuries to a handful of key players. Not to mention, their 42-year-old quarterback probably could have benefited from an extra week of rest. But while New England’s chances to reach Super Bowl LIV now are slimmer, ESPN believes all hope shouldn’t be lost in Foxboro.

“The Patriots always find a way,” Kevin Seifert wrote. “Even after one of the more trying and frustrating seasons of the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady era, they are just three games away from the Super Bowl. If they could win 12 regular-season games while Brady produced his lowest-ever QBR, then what can’t they do? (QBR was first tabulated in 2006.) Their league-leading defense has carried it through the year, and defense is never more valuable than in the playoffs.”

New England will try to prove Seifert write beginning Saturday night when it hosts the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans for a wild-card tilt.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images