Was loss the best thing for Patriots?

January, 12, 2010
1/12/10
12:00
PM ET
Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post, whose analysis is appreciated in this corner, was a guest on Bill Simmons’ “BS Report” podcast and made the point that the Patriots' 33-14 playoff loss to the Ravens was the best thing that could have happened to them.

How so?

“I think the Pats are clearly in a transitional state and I think it was the best thing – if you are a Patriots fan, you should be absolutely delighted that the Patriots lost the game,” Lombardi said.

That seemed to surprise Simmons, who requested an explanation.

“Had they won the game, you and I both know – and all Patriot Nation knows – they weren’t going to win the Super Bowl,” Lombardi said. “If we go to the uncapped year in the National Football League, which all signs indicate we’re headed there, the final eight teams wouldn’t be allowed to sign free agents. They could only replace free agents they lost.

“So it really would have hindered the Patriots offseason, in terms of adding a Julius Peppers, or any other great player out there. They would have been a stuck-in-the-mud team. By losing the game, it keeps them out of the final eight and puts them in position to use all the cap room they have, all the resources they have, and actually spend some money and rebuild the team. I think it was the greatest thing that ever happened to the Patriots.”

ANALYSIS: I’m an optimistic guy, but not this optimistic. I still would have liked to have seen the Patriots go into San Diego and gain that playoff experience for a young roster. Also, I don’t see the team being major players in free agency, as the focus should be on taking care of their own (e.g. Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork, Logan Mankins, Stephen Gostkowski). So while this might be one positive to a disappointing end of the season, the feeling here is that the best thing for the Patriots would have been to play better against the Ravens and still advance in the playoffs, regardless of how things unfolded in San Diego and beyond.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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