For the second straight January, New England's season came to a screeching halt in front of a stunned home crowd at Gillette Stadium. Whereas last year's wild-card weekend loss to the Ravens hurt, Sunday night's 28-21 loss to the Jets in Foxborough may be even tougher to deal with the in the coming months.
Not only did it come at the hands of Rex Ryan's hated rival from New York, but it came despite expectations that a Patriots team that had cruised to a 14-2 record in the regular season was destined to reach its fifth Super Bowl in coach Bill Belichick's tenure.
But a young, transitional team that had seemingly built up so much momentum on both sides of the football over the last few months didn't play up to its regular-season resume and, as such, for the second straight January is left with a long offseason to be spent searching for answers as to what went wrong.
"We just have to do on from here, but it's a tough way to end it," Belichick said. "We're a better team than we played today, but we weren't today."
Quarterback Tom Brady, expected to earn his second NFL MVP award when its announced at the Super Bowl early next month, explained his feelings succinctly.
"It's like you're on a treadmill; running at 10 mph and someone hits the stop button," Brady said of the disappointment. "We certainly expected to play better. I think we're a good football team, but not when we play like we did."
--RB Fred Taylor, who's seen limited action since returning from toe injuries that cost him eight games, was inactive against the Jets. It's his second healthy scratch of the season.
--WR Taylor Price, who made his career debut in the finale against Miami, was once again a healthy scratch for New England's playoff opener.
--DL Myron Pryor (back) led the rest of New England's inactives against New York, joined by healthy scratches RB Thomas Clayton, CB Tony Carter, LB Marques Murrell, OL Rich Ohrnberger and T Mark LeVoir.
--OG Dan Connolly returned to the starting lineup for the postseason after missing the final two games of the year with a concussion.
--TE Aaron Hernandez also returned to action after missing the final two games of the regular season with a hip injury, although he caught just one pass for four yards.
--WR Wes Welker did not start against the Jets, apparently as punishment for his "foot" related comments during the week leading up to the game. He entered the game on the second offensive series and finished as New England's leading receiver with seven catches for 57 yards in the losing effort.
--LB Rob Gronkowski left the game with a knee injury and did not return.
--DL/OLB Eric Moore left the game with a hamstring injury and did not return.