New England's stay in the postseason was brief thanks to a 33-14 first round playoff defeat at home to the Baltimore Ravens. But it's impressive the team even made it that far, say the Patriots and their fans, considering they've were stuck starting backup quarterback Tom Brady.
"Drew Bledsoe is our franchise quarterback has been since we drafted him No. 1 overall in 1993," said Patriots owner Robert Kraft. "He's been to four Pro Bowls. So when you lose someone like him to injury and have to start a sixth round compensatory draft choice well, that's tough to overcome. With Drew in there, I'm confident we would have won the Super Bowl."
Bledsoe went down to injury on September 23, 2001 on a brutal hit by Jets linebacker Mo Lewis, forcing the untested and lightly regarded Brady into the lineup. Despite flashes of good play, Brady was only able to win three Super Bowls in his nine seasons, failing almost 67-percent of the time. Sunday against the Ravens he proved again that he is not up to the challenge, going 23-for-42 for 154 yards, three interceptions and a lost fumble.
"Tom can't be expected to do more than what is realistic," said head coach Bill Belichick. "There's a reason someone is drafted in the sixth round. If we thought he was better than that or expected him to be great, we wouldn't have risked drafting him that late. I think he has done fairly well considering his obvious limitations."
Patriots season ticket holder Billy Flanigan, who left Sunday's loss halfway through the third quarter to go home and watch the Celtics, says New England would have crushed Baltimore if Bledsoe was in there.
"We're just not getting any breaks," he said. "Bledsoe had a rocket arm. He wouldn't be throwing those weak interceptions off his back foot like this scrub from Michigan. And of course the Jets tried to hurt Drew because they knew they might have to face us in the playoffs. The Patriots would never cheat like that."
With Bledsoe's status up in the air for the 2010 season, Flanigan says he knows what the Patriots need to return to their rightful home atop football.
"We need a few more of these Julian Edelman guys," said Flanigan. "I've been saying all along that he's awesome."