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Patriots didn't deserve to win this way

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  December 9, 2013 12:50 PM

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It's OK, Patriots fans, you can smile.

I said smile, not gloat.

The New England Patriots didn't so much beat the Cleveland Browns Sunday at Gillette Stadium as they were gift-wrapped an early Christmas gift from an NFL officiating crew that needs some serious scrutiny in the offseason. If that was pass interference on Leon McFadden in the fourth quarter, then the Browns might as well have been flagged for thinking about whether or not there would be crab cakes at the postgame spread in the locker room. It's just as easy to prove why that call would be made.

It was ticky tack, simply an embarrassing end to a game that should have had earned itself an even more dramatic ending.

Maybe you don't think so though. Maybe you saw the call as justice being served after what transpired in Carolina.

Except, if that's the kind of league you want from the NFL, one where hometown teams get the calls, even in the most crucial of situations, and one where makeup calls are an ends to making the means even out, then the NBA is right over there.

Credit Tom Brady for making the appropriate reads and throws when needed, but this game goes into his long list of comeback victories the same way a Dodge Duster goes into the Vehicle Hall of Fame, low on the list, and without much merit.

Resilient? Sure. Would have been nice to see the Patriots classified as such with some actual credentials on Sunday. Instead, Pats fans seem to feel righted by the fact that the refs had an even Steven mentality to the end of the game.

Yay?

Part of being a fan is carrying yourself with even a little sense of self depreciation, something that's a widespread characteristic among Pats fans as are New York Jets Underoos. If all this town's sports fans carried themselves with the arrogant hierarchy of a certain segment of Patriots fans, you'd be tarred and feathered for questioning Stephen Drew's postseason performance, verbally abused for criticizing Claude's power play, and would be kicked out of the CYO for asking whether or not Danny Ainge really knew what he was doing with the Celtics.

It's no longer "In Bill we trust," but those who are burned at the stake for not following the cult.

It's OK, Pats fans. It's OK to laugh at yourself, get frustrated when things don't go the right way, particularly against the likes of the Cleveland Browns. It's OK to have a sense of humor about things, and even more apropos, a sense of humility.

It's OK to show emotion other than when reciting the Kraft Pledge of Allegiance. It's OK to question the status of a quarterback and head coach who both haven't won a Super Bowl in almost a decade. It's OK to wonder just why in the hell you're running the ball with a minute left, down by 12.

And yes, it's OK to say that Sunday's win was a present from the NFL. Go ahead. Now, breathe.

But no, it's not OK to wonder if Michael Hoomanawanui can effectively replace Rob Gronkowski. That's just foolish.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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