The Patriots suffered a loss for the first time in the 2019 season on Sunday, falling 37-20 to the Ravens. The game was notable for several uncharacteristic mistakes from the Patriots, and for Baltimore’s capacity to move the ball against New England’s vaunted defense.
Given the Patriots’ position in the NFL — defending champions who remain among the league’s elite with an 8-1 record — the reaction to the loss was worth noting.
Here’s a glance at some of the responses from the national media:
Many of the reactions to the Patriots’ loss were tempered by a knowledge of history. The Bill Belichick era in New England has been littered with false signs of decline.
Peter King of NBC Sports pointed this out in his weekly “Football Morning in America” column.
“As for New England, I wouldn’t worry too much about a 17-point loss to an ascending team in early November,” wrote King. “This will allow Bill Belichick to acerbically refocus his team, as he does every year. History should be your judge if you’re either a Patriots fan and totally bummed out this morning, or a Patriots hater, dancing on their grave. And history says in each of their six Super Bowl years, they had bad days.”
Bleacher Report writer Scott Polacek pointed out that while history appears to be on the Patriots’ side, the list of upcoming opponents will provide additional tests.
“This is just one loss, and anyone who thinks it will prevent Brady, Bill Belichick and New England from bouncing back come playoff time has not paid attention to NFL history,” wrote Polacek. “Still, the mistakes were notable, especially since the Patriots haven’t exactly played a loaded schedule to this point of the campaign.”
One voice sounding alarm bells was Ryan Russilo of The Ringer, who (with former Patriot Chris Long) noted that even a Belichick game plan couldn’t slow down the Ravens’ rushing attack.
— The Ringer (@ringer) November 5, 2019
And, as usual, there were an array of familiar opinions describing the Patriots’ in hyperbolic terms.
Nick Wright of Fox Sports forecasted that Tom Brady’s time “does appear to be fading.”
Wright also said that Brady was “clearly one of the Patriot weak links.”
"Tom Brady is not very good right now. No one disputes that Brady's the GOAT. … But some of this has to sit on Brady's shoulders as well, along with the 9 Super Bowls, 3 MVPs and 6 Super Bowl rings. Yesterday, he was clearly one of the Patriot weak links." — @getnickwright pic.twitter.com/sFRMyVdMhf
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) November 4, 2019
On ESPN, former running back DeAngelo Williams said the Patriots “aren’t what we thought they were.”
Of course, the skepticism after a single loss could serve as fuel for the Patriots. It’s happened before, as Kyle Van Noy has pointed out in the past.
And Ringer CEO Bill Simmons, speaking on his podcast, begged for the Patriots to be written off.
“Please, America, bury the Patriots,” said Simmons. “Do it. Do it over the next 24 hours. Get your shovels out. Get the dirt. Put it right on them. Talk about how they’re done. It’s a new era, Baltimore, Kansas City, please. We need it. The Patriots need it, we need the doubt. We need the dirt kicked on us. Bring it on. That’s my take.”