It's a feeling I imagine football fans in Baltimore and San Francisco are just starting to get over.
The feeling of "we had it, we fucking had it."
Watching the Patriots lose the Super Bowl drummed up an entirely different set of emotions than I've ever experienced as a football fan.
This one felt like it mattered more.
In the glory days, when the Patriots built their dynasty, it felt like you were riding the crest of a great wave that would crash into, over and through opponents.
That's not the case anymore.
Spygate was humbling. Losing the the Giants and watching 19-0 vanish forever was a wake up call.
This loss? It felt like spite. It felt like prophecy and malice and a slow drum of fate.
This one was murder.
I've been in a bad mood all day. Everyone I know has been in a bad mood all day. Because, though I thought coming in that the Giants were the more well rounded team, it remained to be seen if they were actually better.
And I'm still not sure they are.
Though they were yesterday. Barely.
And unlike every other day, when I can listen to Sirius XM NFL radio for hours and watch ESPN and NFL Network non-stop, I couldn't turn on the TV and almost tore the radio out of my car this morning as I listened to Ross Tucker and Derrick Brooks break down exactly HOW the Patriots lost.
I'm not the kind of person to tie my mood to a team. I think it's kind of sad when people do.
But I got tied to this loss, somehow.
Why didn't Jerrod Mayo turn and look at the QB when he undercut the route on the Cruz TD?
Why did Hernandez hear steps?
Why did the Pats have 12 men on the field?
Christ, the deconstructing is awful.
Because the Giants, by my count, coughed up the ball three times and didn't pay once. And that was the story of the game for me.
Here's the thing: I like the Giants. I've defended Tom Coughlin like its my job. I love Ahmad Bradshaw. I love that front line of the defense. I think the Giants played to win.
They made one big play and a lot of little ones, and it wasn't pretty, but it was enough.
And the Patriots didn't.
Still, to be the best you have to beat the best, and by my yardstick, the Giants did exactly that.
In the Wildcard round, they dispatched the 10-win Falcons while the Patriots were on bye, healing up.
While the Pats got lucky in the divisional round and dodged the Steelers, routing a sadly undermanned Bronco team, the Giants travelled to Lambeau to beat the 15-1 Packers, who were easily the best team in the league.
Then, the Patriots barely escaped a competent and focused Ravens comeback while the Giants went to San Francisco and outscored the best defense in the league.
In the case of the Giants, they caused the fumble that changed the game. In the case of the Pats, it was an unforced error that sent them to the big show.
But, even with all that, and the vendetta they earned for the amazing win over the Patriots four years ago, could Coughlin and Eli do it again against Brady and Belichick?
I didn't think so.
Because, (and I know that this is going to be tough for those of you that were thrilled to see the Pats get beaten), when Brady and Belichick are your guys, you really like them.
And they did everything right this season.
They didn't run their mouths, they stayed classy, they just kept piling up wins.
And it felt like maybe they had learned some humility after getting punched in the mouth three times: the first by the Giants in the Super Bowl, then by the Ravens (at home) the following year, and last year by the Jets (again, at home).
Maybe, I thought, they've shed that "top dog mentality" and were ready to be hungry again.
And I think they were. But so, unfortunately, were the G-men.
The enduring lesson? It's tough to win without your best weapon.
The Ravens did eventually get the last laugh because when they hurt Gronkowski, they helped the Giants beat the Patriots. Period.
Congratulations to the Giants, a great organization with excellent ownership, management, coaching and players. Tough to watch, but well deserved.
I will, however, continue to be a little salty for a while. I may not drop my R's when I speak, but I will in my mind when I complain about this loss. Because, on a personal level, I was looking for a little redemption and there wasn't any to be found.
But, as with anything in life, there is a silver lining.
At least we didn't lose to the fucking Niners.