If anyone needed to be benched on either side, it was Bart Scott of the Jets, who threatened bodily harm to Welker in reaction to his constant foot references (to Rex Ryan) in that press conference. But Ryan would never do that because he knows the stakes are too high just to make a point about being disciplined in the media.
So now, the Patriots have officially lost that postseason magic they had in years past, with this being their third playoff loss in a row and second one at home, with Baltimore crushing them at Gillette Stadium last year and the New York Giants doing what we fans want to forget never happened in the Super Bowl three seasons ago.
This loss will be hard to forget as well, though most logically thinking Patriots fans feared in the back of their mind that at some point, postseason inexperience among the young players on both sides of the ball and even on special teams could cost them in the playoffs at some point along the way.
This 14-2 team was still developing at regular season's end, especially on defense, where it ranks low compared to that of the other Super Bowl-caliber teams of 2003, 2004 and 2007. Those Patriots teams were expected to go far come postseason time. They had the right balance of good offense and defense (not to mention the reliable foot of Adam Vinatieri in 2001, '03 and '04).
Unfortunately, though this year's team had an MVP QB and some worthy veterans on offense (Welker and Branch), with Kevin Faulk out for the season, it lacked playoff experience at running back and tight end (Crumpler aside) and didn't have nearly enough on defense (Vince Wilfork aside) and special teams (coverage). And defense wins championships, as they say.
So until next season, us Patriots fans can just cry into our memorabilia, or with the DVDs at home, relive the glory from the three Super Bowl titles the home team have won in the Brady era.