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Boomer Esiason tells M&C he thinks Patriots will be able to overcome possible 'season-changing' loss in Miami

Alex Reimer
December 10, 2018 - 8:21 am

As a player, Boomer Esiason was part of many heartbreaking defeats. Perhaps most notably, the quarterback’s Jets fell victim to Dan Marino’s fake spike in 1994, dropping a key divisional game to the Dolphins –– and going on to fall out of the AFC East race.

On “Mut & Callahan” Monday, Esiason said the Dolphins’ lateral play could have a similar effect on the Patriots this season, though he expects New England to bounce back.

“This could be a season-changing play. You wonder what effect it has moving forward,” Esiason said. “There are some teams that are able to overcome it. I make fun of the ‘Spike Game,’ but if we had won that game, we would’ve been first-place in the AFC East. We lose that game, and go on to lose our next three or four games. We were out of it. So you wonder about the intestinal fortitude to the team it happened to. I don’t think Coach Belichick will let this team get down too much. And quite frankly, when you think about what happened in the NFL yesterday, it doesn’t really hurt the Patriots. As long as Kansas City had won, it’s most likely they’ll keep the No. 1 seed throughout the playoffs. And because of Houston’s loss, the Patriots are still in the No. 2 hole. As long as they stay in the No. 2 hole, they’ll be fine.”

Like many analysts, Esiason questioned Belichick’s decision to have Rob Gronkowski on the field as the last line of defense instead of Devin McCourty. But overall, Esiason says the Patriots must try to put the shocking defeat behind them.

“I like what Gronk said after the game yesterday. He took ownership of it,” Esiason said. “Look, he’s on the field on a defensive play that happens in one every 10,000 plays in the NFL. Should Devin McCourty have been out there, Cordarelle Patterson, maybe a more athletic guy? You can look at this thing 1,000 different ways, but you try to move on. You gotta get on the field and practice and try to win the next game. That’s the most important thing. Just win the next game. It doesn’t matter who we play, where we play, what the records are. It’s just about the next game. You file this one away. I’m sure Coach Belichick will do that. He’ll put it in his folders, he’ll remember it, he’ll remember the right personnel to have on the field. If there was ever a team in the NFL that could handle this kind of thing, it’s New England.”

The Patriots remain in the No. 2 seed, thanks to the Texans’ loss to the Colts. New England will take on the reeling Steelers next week, and hope to extend Pittsburgh’s losing streak to four games. Once again, the Steelers seem to be collapsing as we near the playoffs. 

But still, Esiason expects them to deliver an incredible effort agains the Patriots next week. Their season could truly be on the line.

“They’ve hit the skids here a little bit, Their running game hasn’t been as explosive as it was when James Conner was healthy,” Esiason explained. “He didn’t play yesterday. And to me, losing at Oakland is a lot worse than losing at Miami. Pittsburgh, again, this time of year, and I remember last year when Ben (Roethlisberger) said, ‘We’ve got to tighten some things up.’ And again, their season is starting to come apart at the seams. If you’re the Patriots, you’re catching them at the right moment. But I also think you’re going to get an unbelievable effort from the Steelers and Mike Tomlin next week.”

Since the Chiefs hold a two-game lead for the No. 1 seed, it looks like they’re going to clinch the top spot in the conference. While the Patriots have struggled on the road this season, Esiason still thinks they could go into Kansas City and win, thanks to the Chiefs’ porous defense.

“They may have to go to Kansas City, but I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll tell you what: Patrick Mahomes special. He’s the MVP of the NFL with three games left already –– just watching him against Baltimore. But their defense is really, really shaky, even at home. I think whoever goes in there for the playoffs will have a chance to beat them.”