The New England Patriots are as human as ever, and with Tom Brady entering his age-43 season next year without a contract, there's no telling if the dynasty built in Foxborough will ever be the same.
Yet, this wasn't just any defeat. The Patriots' inability to move the football offensively was a black eye on Brady all season. The GOAT was humbled and embarrassed, a look we'd rarely if ever seen during his illustrious career. If Brady were any other QB, this would be an obvious sign he's nearing the end.
Brady is not most quarterbacks. Sure, TB12 is far from the player he was in his 30's, but his best chance of a major comeback is in New England. Somehow, someway, we need a reunion.
Perhaps this is all wishful thinking for Pats fans, or an inability to accept the end of what's been an unthinkable modern day NFL dynasty -- featuring six Super Bowls and countless AFC East division titles. Brady's seen and done it all. If this is the final chapter, no one could blame him for this rather unnoticeable blemish on an otherwise clean resume.
But Brady's expressed a desire to play beyond this season, whether that be with the only franchise he's ever known or elsewhere. From the Patriots' point of view, the feeling ought to be mutual. And while both Brady and Belichick surely have the itch to prove they can be successful without the other, why mess with what's working? The system isn't broken, it just needs some adjustments.
We're not sold this is over, as much as the NFL may wish that were the case.