The Patriots arrived for work at Gillette Stadium this afternoon with the reasonable expectation that their season would continue beyond today. Perhaps some players barely considered the chances of losing to the Jets, a team they blasted, 45-3, barely more than a month ago.
But after their stunning, season-ending 28-21 loss today, the future isn't next week, but next year. And two Patriots in particular -- running back Fred Taylor and left tackle Matt Light -- discussed the possibility that they may have played their final game as a Patriot, and in Taylor's case, as a professional football player.
Taylor, who will turn 35 later this month, is 15th on the NFL's all-time rushing list with 11,695 yards. But his second season with the Patriots -- he spent the first 11 years of his career with Jacksonville -- has been a frustrating one, and he was a healthy scratch today.
"Right now at this point, I've got a million things floating through my brain," said an emotional Taylor after the game. "It's kind of hard to comprehend. None of it's really clear. But I've just got to take some time to be realistic. I kind of know what my body is telling me and what my family has been telling me. But I also know that this is what I've been programmed to do the majority of my life. So I'll probably just take some time, get to training this offseason. The camaraderie, being around the guys, it's just really hard to separate from that. So I don't want to be too fast on the trigger."
Light, who has been the Patriots' starting left tackle since being selected in the second round of the 2001 draft out of Purdue, is a free agent and it's uncertain whether he'll be back to protect Tom Brady's blindside for an 11th season.
"I have had a great 10 years here, this has been a great organization, obviously a great place to come play as a rookie," he said. "Ten really solid years and I hope like hell to be here and continue to do what I have done, but we will have to see if that works itself out."