Your gut feeling was right.
Around mid-afternoon Monday, the Patriots announced what many fans and football observered had feared - that quarterback Tom Brady'sinjured knee will require surgery, thus ending his 2008 season.
"Of course, we feel badly for Tom. It's a tough setback for him," head coach Bill Belichickdeclared just moments later.
His day-after-a-game press conference, typically a sparsely attended affair, was uncharacteristically popular with the media on this day, as a capacity crowd of reporters and photographers descended on Gillette Stadium to get immediate reaction to the reigning NFL MVP's season-ending injury.
Belichick did not confirm when Brady would undergo his surgery, or what exactly the injury is. He also refused to comment on whether or not the hit to Brady by Kansas City safety Bernard Pollardwas a legal play, though Belichick did hint at what he might be thinking.
"Doesn't really matter what I think … We always taught our players to hit the quarterback above the knees and below the shoulders. You look at that Vince Wilforkplay from last year against Buffalo. It's not the same but there are some similarities."
(Note: on that play, here at Gillette Stadium, Bills QB J.P. Losmaninjured his knee, though not nearly as badly as Brady did, and Wilfork was fined by the NFL.)
"I think the guy was just playing football," defensive lineman Ty Warrenobserved. He conceded he didn't see the play as it happened, but tried to explain what Pollard might have been thinking.
"There wasn't a whistle blown … as the guy tried to get to Brady. He didn't do anything differently than I would have done. I can't say I would intentionally try to go in and hurt a person. I think that's just the way things happen. If a whistle isn't blown, I'm trying to make a tackle.
"Vince had a similar situation last year with Losman. It just so happened that injury knocked on Tom's door. It was unfortunate, but the reality is we have to move on and pull our own weight. No confidence is lost."
By that, Warren likely meant confidence in himself and his teammates, including backup QB Matt Cassel. Initial media reports speculated that veteran QBs Chris Simmsand Tim Rattaywere being brought in for tryouts, but Belichick squashed those reports … at least for now.
"No, in spite of what some people are putting out there, we haven't worked out a quarterback, haven't given one a physical. Believe me, we've had a lot of people call us, I can tell you that."
So, the keys to the Pats high-powered offense remain in Cassel's hands. Belichick seemed content to keep things that way they are at the moment as the Patriots move forward.
"We all just have to do our jobs. Every player and coach has a job to do and needs to do it as well as he can. Really, that doesn't change. [Tom] played one position and played it very well. There'll be somebody else playing that position now. We have a lot of confidence in Matt … I'm confident in all the players on our team, otherwise they wouldn't be here."
That appeared to be the prevailing sentiment throughout the New England locker room late Monday.
"It's a tough thing," said captain and starting left tackle Matt Light. "We're all thinking about [Tom]. We feel badly that this happened."
Light hadn't talked directly to his QB, but did send him a text message.
"There's not much you can say, player to player," Light continued, "other than, 'Thinking about you. Hope everything goes well.'"
"Oh, we texted. Expressed the love," defensive lineman Richard Seymourrevealed. "He said he was happy that we pulled it off. And he's sure we can overcome his injury."
Brady and his teammates realize it's best for the team as a whole to put Brady's injury behind them.
"This might sound a little cruel," Light added, "but the focus has been on what we have to do to get ready for next week. As a football team, that's the best thing we can do is focus on the Jets and the challenge there.
"As an offense, we've just got to go out there and do our job and give [Cassel] as much support as we can. He's a young guy that knows this system, worked hard, and he's going to continue to work hard. The leadership on this team will take care of itself. We'll keep going out there and running plays."
"We feel bad for him, but, I mean, it isn't like it's a life-and-death situation," said Seymour. "We're still moving forward as a team. Injuries are part of the game. It's a tough break, especially from the quarterback position. They have the ball in their hands 90 percent of the time, and [Tom's] done a great job for us, to say the least.
"It isn't like we're going to tank it in. That's not going to happen. We always feel like there's always a way to win. We just have to find a way. We were able to do that yesterday and we'll have to continue that. It's a unique situation for us. It'll be quite an adjustment, but we're making no excuses about it. Cassel's our quarterback."
"I would like to think that we've always been a team," added captain and starting outside linebacker Mike Vrabel. "We try to play the best we can regardless of who the quarterback is. Now that it's going to be Matt, I feel bad for Tom … but life goes on. There are a lot of games left to be played. We've won a lot of football games here and that's not going to change."