BOSTON (CBS) — This one meant a lot to Tom Brady.

The Patriots quarterback has been around for a while — 15 years, to be exact. He knows what it’s like to be on a championship team, and he knows what it’s like to be on a team that is not quite there. He also knows that at 37 years old, he’s only going go get a few more kicks at the can before Father Time wrests away the quarterback’s career.

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And after taking the loss in Green Bay on Sunday, Brady looked like a man who so badly wanted to beat the Packers and get his team on the right track as the season heads into the final stretch, and he looked like a man who was truly devastated to leave Wisconsin with an “L.”

“I like to win. I like to win and I like to go out there and compete,” Brady said. “Couldn’t have asked for anything more than this opportunity today. You have your whole life for moments like this, and we just came up short.”

Though Brady didn’t exactly play poorly, he lamented missed opportunities. Particularly, he could barely manage to utter words when trying to discuss the Patriots’ final possession — a drive that traveled 52 yards, setting up a first-and-10 at the Green Bay 21-yard line, before Rob Gronkowski dropped a nearly impossible catch and Brady got sacked for a loss of nine yards on third down. Stephen Gostkowski then badly missed a field goal.

“I just wish we would have won this one. I think we put a lot into this one. It was just a great test for us and I think the guys knew how important it was for our season,” Brady said. “You hate to have the ball on the 20-yard line with under three minutes with a chance to go ahead and not do it. So I think that sucked.

“First-and-10 on the 20-yard line, so …” Brady added, taking a long exhale while his mind replayed that third down.

Brady no doubt will be beating himself up — he always does, even in victory — but this should be one he eventually gets over. For as much as Brady knows about championship teams, he should also know this: Losing can be good. The 2007 team certainly could have used a loss, if only to understand that losing was a real, possible outcome in any given football game. The lack of that knowledge led to them getting overwhelmed by a hungry team in the Super Bowl. Part of what forged the identity of the 2003 team was the Week 1 loss to Buffalo. The 2004 team ended its 21-game winning streak with a loss to Pittsburgh. That helped them return to Pittsburgh in January and win via blowout. The 2001 Patriots share a similar story, as they lost a close game at home to the St. Louis Rams — the same team they’d upset in the Super Bowl.

Of course, none of that makes taking a loss easier, and the Patriots know that their lead in the AFC exists only as a tie-breaker. They can’t afford to slip in any of the four remaining games if they want to secure the No. 1 seed and home field throughout the playoffs.

But they also know what they didn’t know going into Sunday. Rattling off seven straight wins is always a positive development, but teams truly learn about themselves when opponents expose their weaknesses and beat them. The Patriots definitely have some work to do, but thanks to the Packers, they know where to start.

Now, let’s dive into all of the leftover thoughts from the Packers’ 26-21 win over the Patriots.

–I knew the Patriots were going to lose when, midway through the first quarter, I saw this:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

There are no Patriots players on the sideline. All Patriots not on the field are huddled by a sideline heater. Lame. The Miami Dolphins are supposed to be affected by the cold, not the New England Patriots.

The team that fears the weather is the team that loses the game.

–Well, OK, I also knew they were going to lose when I saw this:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

The number of teams that have won NFL games when their quarterback gets taken for a walk on a leash in the third quarter is zero. Zero teams.

I just hope the trainer had a plastic bag or a pooper-scooper. I hate when trainers don’t pick up after their QBs.

–The third-and-9 that Brady lamented after the game was a play when the Patriots could have taken a lead. Instead, this happened:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

It’s easy to understand why he was so disappointed. Getting sandwiched by two giant men is probably a lousy experience.

–If the NFL was so quick to shun Richie Incgonito for his “bullying,” it might be time for Roger Goodell to come down hard on Aaron Rodgers. Because that man was bullying Logan Ryan early. It was uncomfortable, as Rodgers just kept going back to Davante Adams, who just kept getting open against Ryan, who just kept falling a step or two (or three) behind the receiver.

The Patriots had to act quickly to get Ryan out of that situation, but for a while in the first half there, it was some old-fashioned playground bullying.

–A loss in Green Bay can be acceptable, but certain parts of that loss are completely unacceptable.

For one, coming out of the gates and allowing three first downs on the first three plays (49 yards) and then finally coming up with a third-down stop but getting called for defensive holding, that is not how to start a game of this magnitude.

Likewise, coming out of halftime and running a play so disjointed that Brady throws it to nobody …

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

… and Dan Connolly gets called for holding? You had all that time to strategize your play calls to start the second half, and that’s what you went with?

On their next play, Brady got demolished by 305-pound defensive end Mike Daniels. Two plays later, the Patriots had to burn a timeout, something that came back to bite them late in the fourth. And coming out of that timeout, Brady was once again pressured from the middle of the line, and he had to scramble and then throw incomplete to Danny Amendola, missing by a mile.

It was a sloppy showing for a team that really should be better coming out of halftime.

–Another crucial little play that can make the difference between winning and losing in big games came late in the first quarter. Facing a third-and-5 near midfield, Brady connected with Julian Edelman over the middle. But Edelman ran his route a yard shy of the sticks, and he was taken down immediately upon making the catch.

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

This came after the Patriots were gifted great field position, thanks to Mason Crosby’s kickoff out of bounds, but they wasted it by going three-and-out. It took the Packers four plays to find the end zone on the ensuing drive, and the Packers led 13-0.

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–Here’s how Mr. Brady felt about wasting that field position:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

–Ed Hochuli is a terrible, insufferable referee, and his crew is even worse. Granted, on this day, the crew was not nearly as bad as it was in the Eagles-49ers game earlier this year, but they managed to set a new standard for officiating incompetence by calling a penalty for 12 men on the field when there were in fact just 11 Patriots on the field.

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

That is a new one.

Bill Belichick politely informed head linesman Patrick Turner that while he understands that counting can be difficult, 11 does not equal 12. Patrick Turner seemed to say, “Whoa … whoa! You just blew my mind, man!”

Bill Belichick argues with head linesman Patrick Turner. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick argues with head linesman Patrick Turner. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Later, Ed Hochuli seemed to believe, “Hey, these nice football fans haven’t heard from me in quite some time. I’m sure they’re begging to hear my rich, smooth baritone. Let’s give the fans what they want!”

Or at least, that’s what I’m left to believe to be the inspiration for a referee announcing so often that “There was no foul on the play.”

It’s just not fun or cutesy anymore that the guy has big arms. That’s great, but he is not great at his job. And his act has run its course.

–If football doesn’t work out for Rob Gronkowski, perhaps he has a future as the next Coppertone girl:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

Speaking of Gronkowski, he nearly made the most impossible catch of his career. And given some of the catches he’s made, that’s really saying something.

Rob Gronkowski (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Rob Gronkowski (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

–Brandon Browner is, obviously, a physical force. So I was kind of surprised to see him pass up this green-light opportunity to hit Richard Rodgers:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

The tight end was held up there, which is actually a legal time for a defender to demolish him (the NFL only “cares” about brain safety in specific situations and at certain positions), so I was surprised to see him pull up and let him go out of bounds.

Rodney Harrison would have broken at least four of that guy’s ribs.

–I feel like a genuine crazy person when I log on to Twitter and see dozens upon dozens of people clamoring to see Jonas Gray. What world am I in?!

Jonas Gray had an excellent three hours in Indianapolis, and that can never be taken away from him. But in his lack of playing time the past two weeks, you’d think the man was the second coming of Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders with the way people yearn to see him on the field. This is Jonas Gray we’re talking about!

I thought I made it pretty clear last week that LeGarrette Blount is a better option, but apparently my reach is not wide enough to convince everyone in the world to think exactly like I do. That is most unfortunate.

But perhaps Blount’s bowling ball routine — plus, you know, Bill Belichick’s judgment — is enough to convince more people to stop saying that Jonas Gray needs to get more carries. This is Jonas Gray we’re talking about. Jonas Gray!

–Seriously though, what a run by LeGarrette Blount on a gotta-have-it third-and-1:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

Blount got the carry on the very next play and ended poor Morgan Burnett’s life:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

–The lack of pressure on Aaron Rodgers was obviously impossible to not notice, but I got the sense that was (oddly) the game plan. They knew that sending blitzes would open up too much field for Rodgers, and he’d carve them up that way. They also knew that they needed to keep an eye on Rodgers at all times, because he’s capable of breaking off 17-yard runs if given a lane. So they backed off on the pass rush, which is OK, but giving the best quarterback in the league all that time to pick you apart is going to cost you at some point. And it did on the third-and-4 conversion which allowed Green Bay to run out the clock.

(The play when Rodgers had 12 seconds to operate in the pocket, while ridiculous, resulted in a throwaway. So I guess that one worked out. On that play, it was obvious that Rob Ninkovich, Chris Jones and Dont’a Hightower weren’t even pretending to rush Rodgers. They just played patty cake with their offensive linemen near the line of scrimmage and took away rushing options for Rodgers. It was weird. But it was part of the plan.)

–If you’re looking for a silver lining, there’s this: The last image you saw of Brady in the game was him screaming rage-filled F bombs on the sideline:

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

(Screen shot from NFL.com/GameRewind)

Then, after the game, he was visibly miffed at losing. Now, he’s not going home to his wife and kids — people that would likely make him feel better and get over it. Instead, he and his teammates are spending the week in San Diego, getting ready to face the Chargers on Sunday night. That means that Brady is going to stew in the loss for a good 48 hours, left with nothing to do but study film and prepare.

All of this is to say: With a national TV game on tap, the elements are in place for Brady having a vintage, tear-the-opponents-heart-out type of performance next weekend.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here, or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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