The Associated Press announced that both the AFC and NFC Championship games drew huge television ratings this past weekend. The Patriots-Broncos game averaged 51.3 million viewers, which is up 22% from the early game last year (San Francisco at Atlanta). The game had a 28.1 rating and a 51 share, which is the second-highest rating for an AFC Championship in 17 years. The NFC Championship boasted record-breaking numbers as well.
Though Sunday's game was a heartbreaking loss for the Patriots, Rich Levine says it will not mark the end of an era. In an article on Comcast SportsNet's website, he says that there are big decisions to be made this offseason, but that New England should be even stronger next year.
"There will be another chance. It isn't over," says Levine. "If there's anything we've learned from the previous seven playoff losses, and the annual declaration of the end of an era, it's that as long as Brady and Belichick are around, the dream is still alive."
An article by the Associated Press was posted in the Boston Herald today that lists the Patriots highlights and lowlights from 2013. This includes the best and worst games, the best and worst plays, and the biggest surprise and biggest disappointment from 2013.
Boston.com's Zuri Berry lists his five takeaways from 2013. Though the Patriots failed to accomplish their ultimate goal, Berry believes there are a number of positives from a very memorable season.
Sunday's loss essentially marks the beginning of the offseason for New England and Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar says the Patriots have serious offseason questions. Farrar says it's almost "criminal" to surround Brady with the skill players that he had in 2013. He says that Belichick needs to give Brady more talent to work with as the future Hall of Fame quarterback's window starts to close.
"When your quarterback has to play perfectly for anything to happen, you have built your team incorrectly," believes Farrar. "As much as Belichick is one of the greatest geniuses the NFL has ever seen, he'll have to correct this bad road before it gets worse."
ESPN Boston's Field Yates adds his own take to the Patriots offseason needs. He believes that resigning Aqib Talib and Julian Edelman should be at the top of the team's list of priorities. He also identifies the Patriot biggest need and offers a player who he expects will receive a contract extension.
In a press conference at Gillette Stadium yesterday, Bill Belichick said that he thinks that Wes Welker's hit on Aqib Talib was a deliberate attempt to take out a player. Erik Frenz of the Boston Globe breaks down the play to answer the question at hand: was the hit legal? His conclusion is that the hit was legal, but he understands why Belichick is upset.
ESPN's NFL Live team breaks down Belichick's reaction and debates whether it was an overreaction or whether his comments were warranted.