Even as the Jacksonville Jaguars played well for a good portion of Sunday’s AFC championship game, one had the feeling the game was never in doubt.
For when you are playing perhaps the greatest dynasty in pro football history playing well for a portion of the game is simply not enough. At times playing well for the entire contest is not enough.
And so, it comes to pass that the coach-quarterback combo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be making their eighth trip to a Super Bowl together. The duo already possesses five rings and would have seven if not for two one-in- a-thousand plays made by the New York Giants.
It’s mind-boggling really. Even with a recent report (seemingly overblown) about turmoil within the Patriots kingdom, nothing seems to slow this dynasty down.
Most concede that Belichick is the greatest pro football coach of all time. Long ago known for his defensive strategies and his ability to break down opponents while finding even the slightest weaknesses, Belichick long ago surpassed his mentor Bill Parcells.
To say one is the greatest NFL coach of all time includes being ranked ahead of some heavyweights including Tom Landry, Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh and Don Shula. All of these are Hall of Famers but clearly what Belichick has accomplished puts him on a higher level.
Not much more can be said or written about Brady. His rings dictate he is the greatest quarterback ever to play the game. If you haven’t seen it, then it is worth watching “The Brady Six” about the six quarterbacks drafted ahead of Brady the year he became a pro player.
It was the ultimate case of pro football scouts not measuring the biggest intangible for a player: heart. Brady’s desire to win is what has kept him at the top of his game when age says he should no longer be playing. Everything from his diet to his hours of film study to inner desire not to lose have made him the best among a group which features many icons.
Atlanta Falcon fans learned all too well in last year’s Super Bowl just how tough it is to defeat Brady and Belichick. If there is time remaining on the clock the Patriots never feel they are out of the game. Even in Sunday’s AFC championship while New England trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter, you did not see one ounce of panic or desperation by the Patriots.
In a league where the difference in winning and losing is razor-thin, the Patriots have found a way to win every year. They don’t win every now and then, they win season in and season out.
It’s a surprise if they are not in the Super Bowl and it’s become almost unheard of for them not to be in (and usually host) the AFC championship game.
While it’s certainly possible, in theory, that New England will not be victorious in this year’s Super Bowl, how can anyone in their right mind go against a franchise which has made winning look so routine.
With any successful team, there are plenty of haters and doubters when it comes to the Patriots. You hear many declare “cheaters” when they talk of them. However, if you think a deflated football is what has made this franchise the best on the gridiron, then I have some ocean front property for sale in Nebraska at a good rate.
With each Super Bowl appearance and each victory, this franchise continues to set a standard which will likely never be matched.
Winder resident Chris Bridges is the former sports editor of the Barrow News-Journal. He welcomes feedback about this column at firstname.lastname@example.org.