- ***** It definitely sucks to have the crap kicked out of us by the Steelers in our house. But the reality is that, at this time, in this season, they are a much better team than the Patriots.***** They continue to have the traditional shut down defense that has been the heart of their team for about as long as I can remember. It was just too much for the still inexperienced Cassel to handle; especially when his best receiver drops two passes, his TE tips another to a DB, and his "Pro Bowl" (what a joke!) OLT does his all too common revolving door routine!***** Cassel was certainly off in this game. But, without those "unforced errors" by his supporting cast on offense, and the continuing ineptitude of the defense to either present a serious pass rush, or cover receivers, he might have had some opportunity to succeed. This was, in every sense, a "team loss".***** We can, and I do, still hope for a miracle over the next 4 weeks. However, at this point, with this team, I think it would take just about that level of events for the Patriots to make the Playoffs this year.***** As I said earlier, I have definitely not lost faith in this team, or it's coaches. I just can't deny the reality that the injuries we've suffered this season have been far too significant for the team to overcome. I know that BB would never refer to injuries as reasons for losses; but, back on the reality trail, the fact is that significant injuries, in both quantity and quality, do affect the performance of an NFL team. So, let's review, shall we?***** Brady's absence, despite the commendable progress and 100% effort of Cassel, clearly made a significant reduction in the horsepower of the offense. Early in the season, the absence of Steve Neal at RG hurt; as did the losses of both Sammy Morris and Lamont Jordan for several games. (I hope nobody missed the fact that this was yet another game without Ty Warren at DE.)***** On defense, we've played much of the season without Rodney Harrison, who has not been adequately replaced by nearly invisible James Sanders. We lost Adalius Thomas a few games ago; and, while Woods has played at a decent "backup" level, he's a long, long way from what Adalius Thomas brings to the team. And, most recently, Ty Warren has been unable to play his position. Again, there is no adequate replacement for a player of his caliber. Harrison, Thomas, and Warren are all players of true Pro Bowl quality. Then we add the loss, due to the ever-present greed motive of today's players, of Assante Samuel, and we have a defense that is really but a shadow of what it has been for most of the BB era.***** There's nothing wrong with BB's coaching. If Brady returns in full health next season, as we have reason to believe he will, there's nothing wrong with the offense. The defense, we all know, knees some significant improvement in player quality in the secondary. Personally, I think that we have the players at LB; and the combination of good coaching, and game experience will make that a solid unit. The DL, as long as we keep in intact, is fine. So, IMO, the future remains bright for our Patriots ... beginning with next season. This one, I'm afraid, barring a miracle that must include collapse by other teams, is over.