Fan Files: Patriots Wrap Things Up in Style

<p>Season finales aren't supposed to be the viewing of the backups vs the also-rans, but on occasion that's what NFL fans get watching meaningless games that have no playoff implications. That wasn't the case Sunday at Foxboro, as the New England Patriots played their starters through the first 3 quarters. Unlike other playoff teams with byes, the Patriots gave their fans a solid effort by keeping the starters in, and playing to win.</p><p>Michelle V. gives her take on the game.</p>

PHOTO: New England Patriots receiver Deion Branch (83) goes in for a touchdown despite the efforts of San Fransisco 49ers Shawntae Spencer during the third quarter of the Patriots 21-7 win at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. Sunday, Jan. 2, 2004. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Fan Files: Patriots Wrap Things Up in Style
Patriots defeat the Niners 21-7
by Michelle Vitagliano, Fan Commentator

It may not have been a great first quarter, it may not have been a great first half, but after playing 60 minutes of football, the New England Patriots came out on top with a 21-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers in their last regular season game. The victory marked New England's second season in a row in which they've won 14 games. Not too shabby!

I didn't expect that after watching the Pats score first for 20 games in a row this season, the record would be come to an end against a 2-13 San Francisco team. I was, however, happy to see Corey Dillon achieve 1,635 rushing yards and set a new franchise record. The running machine got an additional $375k bonus for breaking the 1,600 rushing yard mark. God it must be nice to be a football player. Imagine getting paid an insane amount of money for doing something you love and week after week, playing in front of thousands of fans who cheer you on from start to finish? What a life! And Dillon must be pretty damn happy with where he is right now. He's playing unbelievably well for a team with a fantastic record, he has a brilliant coach and fans that love him. Must be nice Corey! Must be nice.

Luckily, Dillon wasn't the only Patriot smiling after Sunday's game. Deion Branch, Mike Vrabel and (surprise surprise), Corey Dillon each scored a touchdown, Willie McGinest had a sack, Tom Brady ended the regular season with 28 touchdown passes and partridge in a pair tree! Oh, and Fox was kind enough to show those of us watching from home exactly what former band player Teddy Bruschi looked like when he was a student. Those pictures certainly made me smile. Mullet anyone?

So now that the regular season is over, I wonder how many of you are preparing yourselves for the fact that the football season is quickly coming to an end in just over a month. Are you ready for it? Are you feeling desperate enough to think about writing a petition to get the XFL back? I was reminded of that WWF-like sport just yesterday when a guy at the bar I was at was wearing a He Hate Me shirt.

I remember initially being excited about being able to watch MORE football after the NFL season was over. But I never got hooked so now what? There's only one thing the Patriots could do to make the wait from now until the start of next season a little bit more bearable. How about they win another Super Bowl! Imagine how great that would be? Just imagine.

The Pats have a week off to prepare for the playoffs. Maybe I'll take that time to watch last year's Super Bowl and hope that this year, if they do make it, I can get some tickets and be part of the action. In the meantime, Happy New Year and best wishes for a great 2005. Go Pats!

Michelle Vitagliano, passionate Boston sports fan that she is, can be found in the insiders forums under the screen name Patriette. Her weekly fan commentary can be found here on the Patriots Insider site, or you can search for her articles on the Insiders by searching for "Michelle Vitagliano". If you're a local, you can find her mostly around the Boston scene on game night, hanging out with her friends.

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