Bottom-line business. And 11 hours after the Patriots succumbed to the Niners in one of the most entertaining games of the Bill Belichick era, the bottom line hadn't changed.
Not good enough.
"I thought they fought hard and competed well," Belichick said on a Monday morning conference call. "It just wasn't good enough. Too many bad plays, too many mistakes. But yeah, we fought, we hung in there. Just not good enough in any area."
The Patriots slipped to the third overall seed in the AFC with the loss. If the current seedings hold, the Patriots will host the Colts in the Wild Card round. A win would put them in Denver for a game against a team it's whipped thrice in the past year.
It will be a challenge the Patriots wouldn't have had to face if they won out. But Belichick did note he hasn't detected this team being daunted by adversity.
"I don't think that's been a problem this year," he said.
In terms of fallout from the game, the fumble by Stevan Ridley again brings into focus that he is average when it comes to ballhandling.
Belichick was asked if a fumble like Ridley's was excusable because of the picture-perfect nature of the tackle delivered by Donte Whitner.
"There are gonna be plays in the game that are sometimes . . . things happen in football that are part of football," he explained. "The way the ball bounces or so forth and so on. Everything we do we try to do and coach with the best possible technique whether it be carrying the ball, we try to teach it with the best technique."
In the end, the furthest Belichick would go in lauding his team was this: "There were times we did things at a competitive level."