We see the beginnings of a team in defeat with an immediate highlight reel of the Patriots-Chiefs game, in which New England was blown out 41-14 – their worst loss in over a decade and what many analysts considered the end of their status of being title contenders.
It’s certainly jarring to see an NFL Network series like “America’s Game,” which chronicles the stories of each year’s Super Bowl champions, to start off with such a low note for the Patriots, who were the ultimate team of the last decade still trying to recapture the glory they once had.
It’s also fitting. One of the prominent themes shown throughout the 2014 New England Patriots episode is how throughout the highs and lows of the year, the Patriots continued to follow coach Bill Belichick’s ultimate motto and philosophy, “do your job.” As illustrated through interviews with players Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Devin McCourty, they, along with their teammates, had levels of adversity to overcome in order to reach success.
For Gronkowski it was getting over injury problems he had suffered years ago. While for McCourty, it was trying to match expectations from his strong rookie season and playing another position. Most interesting is Edelman’s story of playing the undersized role player – a former college quarterback who turned into a special teams/slot receiver hybrid for New England, able to do whatever the coach asked him to do – such as throw a pass on a trick play despite initially having been lined up as a receiver.
Since the episode was only an hour long and had to chronicle highlights of New England’s seasons, it’s understandable that viewers were given the SparkNotes version of what these players were like.
As far as the recap of New England’s season goes, the episode pretty much got everything it needed in terms of game footage. Immediately after showing the Patriots’ most lopsided loss of the year, viewers are given a plethora of highlights, such as the Patriots’ double-comeback from a 14-point deficit against the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, as well as their blowout against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game.
Of course, it’s impossible to mention that victory without acknowledging a grey cloud in Deflategate over their legitimate status as Super Bowl title-contenders. Yet unsurprisingly, due to the cases seemingly never-ending legal status, as well as its possible dark stain on both the leagues and its premier franchise’s integrity, the NFL-made “America’s Game” only briefly mentions the controversy around Deflategate. Its failure to address modern issues – such as quarterback Tom Brady’s legal battles with the NFL – probably remains a result of the film’s still-new status, but for Patriots-haters and Patriots fans looking to see a nuanced take on the controversy, this film isn’t the one to see.
It is one to see if viewers are looking to get a pretty succinct version of what happened in the Super Bowl. Edelman’s words about Seattle Seahawks’ wide receiver Jermaine Kearse’s miraculous catch late in the fourth quarter resonated with every Patriots fan, but the joy felt by all three interviewees about New England rookie defensive back Malcolm Butler’s game-winning interception did as well.
By the end of “America’s Game: The 2014 New England Patriots,” we are all taught a valuable lesson: through all the challenges in life, whether it’s being too short like Edelman, you can truly be successful if you just do your job. While other fans of the NFL may roll their eyes and ask if deflating footballs is part of standard NFL employment, Patriots fans are certainly given a documentary that encapsulates their feelings about last season.