He must have come to administer last rites to the Bill Belichick & Brady bunch.
For when those final minutes expired and the scoreboard showed the Jets won, 28-21, it marked the second consecutive one-and-done in the playoffs for Belichick & Brady, their third playoff loss in a row and their fourth playoff loss in their last six postseason games since beating San Diego in an AFC Divisional playoff matchup in 2007.
The dynasty is dead. The Jets were the vultures picking at the carrion.
We now know for certain that the Patriots dynasty ended in 2008 Super Bowl when the Giants canceled the Patriots' bid for an undefeated season. The Patriots haven't been the same since.
"I think you always are [stunned]," Brady said of losing in the playoffs with high expectations. "It's like you're on the treadmill at 10 miles an hour and someone hits the stop button."
In this most recent case, it was the loudmouth Jets who pulled the plug. Like the Ravens going into Pittsburgh, they talked the talk. Unlike the Ravens, they backed it up and beat the Patriots again. It was the fourth time the Jets did so in the last seven meetings with the Patriots.
The Jets didn't just beat Belichick & Brady, though. They confounded them.
They outplayed them and Belichick was outcoached.
As the Patriots put together a 14-2 record heading into these playoffs -- scoring no less than 31 points in their last eight games after jettisoning Randy Moss for guys no one heard of like Danny Woodhead – whispers were heard comparing Belichick to Vince Lombardi after Belichick won this year's Super Bowl as so many of us expected. The muttering heard about Belichick after Sunday, however, didn't measure him against the NFL's most-legendary coach.
After all, Belichick never found an answer for the X's and O's his nemesis from the Jets, Rex Ryan, threw at him all day. He was so discombobulated by it all that he resorted to Don King trickeration to turn his fortunes around. He called a fake punt late in the second quarter at his team's 37-yard line. It was reminiscent of something his mentor, Bill Parcells, did in the 1987 Super Bowl against Denver.
For Parcells, it worked. For Belichick, like most everything else on Sunday, it failed.
A bad snap doomed it from the start. Less than a minute later, the Jets turned the mistake into a touchdown and a 14-3 halftime lead.
"We just made a bad mistake on the play," Belichick said in his usual deadpan. "I'm not even going into it."
Belichick also refused to elaborate on what may have been a costly decision before the game to bench Brady's favorite target, the diminutive slot receiver Wes Welker, on the opening series as punishment for Welker's subtle digs at Ryan last week over the foot fetish revelations involving Ryan and his wife.
It was as surprising an act as was the mild-mannered Welker's stand-up routine before the media last week where he wise-cracked about Ryan and Ryan's wife with 11 references to feet. I didn't know Belichick paid attention to such things or that what Welker did called for such a reaction. I wonder how Belichick would have responded to Welker had he been busted for drunk driving, as was the Jets' receiver Braylon Edwards last year. Ryan benched Edwards for the first quarter of a game as punishment. Ryan was criticized for being lax. Maybe Belichick wanted to show he had higher standards than the bur in his saddle from New York.
Said Welker, who caught seven passes for 57 yards, after the game: "That's a coach's decision, the game plan. You can ask the coach about that stuff. I'm not going to really comment on that stuff."
Welker's impact on the game spoke for him, though. He had little.
It may have contributed to Brady being out of rhythm much of the outing, making Brady unable to bail his team out as the Jets kept it just enough out of reach.
Brady was uncharacteristically bad from the start, unless you consider this was a playoff game. In his previous playoff game last year at home against the Ravens, Brady completed just 23 of 42 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns and was intercepted three times. He was better on Sunday, compiling 299 yards on 29 completions, including two TDs, out of 45 attempts. But much of it came too late and the one interception he tossed created momentum for the Jets early in the game that they never relinquished. It appeared almost a nonchalant pass on a screen that Jets' linebacker David Harris snared easily and returned 58 yards to the Patriots' 12-yard line.
The Jets didn't turn it into a score but it zapped what looked like a methodical scoring drive the Patriots were on. The Patriots made four easy first downs before Brady's faux pas. It was Brady's eighth interception against 11 touchdowns in his last six playoff games.
This was the second time Belichick & Brady went into the playoffs with an offense that was lighting up scoreboards at a record pace only to fizzle prematurely in the playoffs. Ryan employed a defensive scheme that refused Brady a big pass play and was positioned properly to catch Brady's favorite water bugs like Welker and the equally little running back Woodhead.
Now the secret is out on how to derail the Patriots, at least when it matters the most. The Ravens dismantled the Patriots' explosive offense a year ago in the playoffs. The Jets pulled it off again Sunday.
And unless the Patriots can retool their offense with a more traditional running attack and some bigger targets for Brady to throw at, this story is likely to play out again and again, if they even get this far.
The golden Patriots era is over.
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