It took until the final week of the regular season, but the New England Patriots and their fans finally came through with an excuse for failing to win the Super Bowl thanks to star wide receiver Wes Welker stepping up with a clutch torn ACL and MCL.
"Whew! That was close," quarterback Tom Brady. "But this is what great teams do they find a way to win. And if they know they can't win, they find a way to convince people that they could have won had they just gotten a few breaks. A few goddam breaks!"
Other talented teams had clinched their excuses weeks ago, with the Steelers losing Troy Polamalu to injury for most of the season in Week 1 and the Titans and Panthers blowing their seasons by sticking too long with awful quarterbacks. But had Welker, the New England's leading pass catcher, not torn up his knee, Patriots fans may have been reduced to blaming their upcoming playoff defeat on Brady's two injured ribs a far less desirable excuse.
"We've already used me as the reason we didn't go 19-0 last year," said Brady, of his 2008 knee injury. "And, yeah, my ribs are hurt, but it's obviously not affecting my play. I mean, sure, my rib injury would have worked for the most delusional fans. But that's not good enough for the New England Patriots. We want to convince delusional Pariots fans, casual football fans and the media. The Triple Crown of morons, so to speak."
Welker admitted he was disappointed about his knee, but glad he could help the team.
"We haven't won a Super Bowl since I've been here and it's not looking like we will," he said. "But the next best thing to winning a title is winning a presumed title. And we've got nine of those in a row here in New England. It's an amazing fake run."
Head coach Bill Belichick says that thanks to Welker's injury, his team will be in its rightful place at the beginning of next season back atop the power rankings.
"With Wes coming off his knee injury, fans and the media will think we are primed and motivated for another run, and that's great," said Belichick. "This team is different compared to dynasties from the past in that we've been able to convince people that we are a threat long after we really have been. It's perhaps our greatest accomplishment."
Patriots season ticket holder Jimmy Riley said he and his friends were disappointed to see Welker go down, but that there is a silver lining.
"A, we clinch another Super Bowl," he said. "And B, we don't have to waste time watching the playoffs because they are now illegitimate. I can spend more time now watching the Celtics, who have always been my favorite team anyway."