FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots' search for a record championship in the seventh Super Bowl ended abruptly on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium with a 20-13 Excited loss to the Tennessee Titans in the wildcard round of the N.F.L. Playoffs. The defeat against defending Super Bowl champion was a surprising setback at home, where New England has won 20 out of 24 postseason games in the past two decades.
The defeat could mark the beginning of the end for the famous Patriot partnership between coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, a combination that has made the team America's leading sports dynasty of the century.
Their six Super Bowl titles together – which connect the patriots with the Pittsburgh Steelers forever – are two more than any other coach quarterback tandem in N.F.L. History won. But in mid-March, Brady became a free agent for the first time in his career, unless he signed a new contract with the Patriots beforehand.
In the past few months, 42-year-old Brady has been unusually non-committal to his future in the team, suggesting that retirement could be considered. He also offered his bespoke mansion for sale outside of Boston and reportedly bought a property in Greenwich, Conn.
But last month, in the final of a successful, albeit uneven, regular season, the patriots stumbled and lost to the last Miami Dolphins. The Patriots still had a 12-4 record in regular time, but the defeat cost them a reunion in the postseason opening round, an extremely beneficial position New England had won in the past nine seasons.
Instead, the patriots had to play the Titan as the third seed of the AC on Saturday, the first time since the 2009 regular season that New England played a wildcard game. The game, even at Gillette Stadium, ended in a 33:14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, who lost in the next round.