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Tom Brady, Patriots lost opportunity

Despite admirable accomplishments, their season ends with disappointment

Updated: January 19, 2014, 10:17 PM ET
By Jackie MacMullan | ESPNBoston.com

DENVER -- Resist the urge to declare the New England Patriots lucky to advance to the AFC Championship Game in the first place.

The injuries, the incarceration and the incomplete corps of receivers were red flags that could have signaled their demise, but the team kept winning, kept playing with "house money." It emboldened them to proclaim themselves underdogs and to field flattering comparisons to the plucky 2001 team that won it all.

But now, after a 26-16 drubbing at ...

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