There's been a lot of loose talk about perfection these last few months.

There's been a lot of loose talk about perfection these last few months.

New England Patriots fans started talking about the possibility of a perfect season before half the games had been played. It was understandable. Belichick, Brady and the boys were defeating all comers, often by margins so wide they were accused of running up the score. Critics acted like the Pats should play with 10 men on the field or one hand tied behind their backs, just to make it interesting.

But there's a big difference between a perfect record and a perfect team. Some of the Patriots' wins were anything but perfect. Four times during the regular season, the Pats trailed in the fourth quarter before Tom Brady led them back down the field to reclaim the lead. It had been so long since this team fell short, we all just assumed he'd do it again, even with just 35 seconds on the clock. It wasn't to be, and the New York Giants deserve the credit as well as the trophy.

Looking on the bright side, we should note that the games where the Pats dominated - remember when they beat the Redskins by 45 points? - weren't all that fun to watch. Competition is a lot more entertaining than perfection.

This loss also reminds us that there is virtue in humility, and you don't get humble if you never lose a big game. A new generation of young New England sports fans, spoiled by the success of the Red Sox and Patriots, is now learning that championship parades are by no means guaranteed.

So buck up, sports fans. It wasn't a perfect season, but it sure was a memorable one. The Celtics, you might have noticed, have the best record in the NBA, and Red Sox spring training begins in less than two weeks.