The Patriots are going to the Super Bowl for the seventh time in the B&B Dynasty. That’s Belichick & Brady, if you hail from somewhere other than New England.
Think about it. Seven Super Bowls in 17 seasons. Seven! That’s a trip to The Big Game every two years or so. How awesome is that? Most players and coaches consider themselves fortunate to appear in one Super Bowl. Come Feb. 5, B&B will have gone seven times. That’s insane!
NFL coaching and playing greats didn’t go to the Super Bowl seven times. Not Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw of the Steelers. Not Tom Landry and Roger Staubach of the Cowboys. Not Bill Walsh and Joe Montana of the 49ers. Not Don Shula and Dan Marino of the Dolphins.
But Bill Belichick, the dour but brilliant coach, and Tom Brady, the age-defying quarterback – is he really 39? – are going to their seventh Super Bowl together. What a run!
New England’s 36-17 rout of the Steelers Sunday night provided Belichick with his seventh AFC Championship, an NFL record. He had been tied with Shula. The triumph gives Brady a chance to play in his seventh Super Bowl, an NFL record. He shares the record with Mike Lodish, a former defensive lineman for Denver and Buffalo. A victory will give him his fifth Super Bowl ring. Only Hall of Fame defensive end Charles Haley can show off five rings.
Counting their losses to Chicago in 1986 and Green Bay in 1996, this will be the ninth Super Bowl appearance for the Pats. That, sports fans, will be an NFL record, and a stunning one at that because for most of the 1970s and 1980s, the Patriots were afterthoughts in any Super Bowl discussion. Bill Parcells added legitimacy to the franchise in the 1990s, and B&B elevated the Patriots to the highest level in the 2000s.
They burnished their Hall of Fame credentials Sunday night when they led the Patriots over a hot team that had won nine consecutive games. Now the Patriots have won nine in a row in this 16-2 season.
Brady was brilliant: 32 of 42 for 384 yards, his career post-season high, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Receiver Chris Hogan, the pride of Monmouth University, played the best game of his life with nine receptions for 180 yards, a franchise post-season record, and two touchdowns. Six of his catches resulted in first downs. Receiver Julian Edelman had great night with eight receptions for 118 yards. The offensive line, the most improved unit on the team this season, protected Brady, and the defense checked Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh’s tough running back, re-injured his groin in the first half and watched most of the game from the bench.
I expected the Patriots to beat the Steelers, but by three or four points, not 19. This could be a team of dynasty, I mean destiny. Brady is playing like a man possessed, a man determined to erase any stigma remaining from his four-game suspension for his alleged role in Deflategate. Remember Deflategate? A Super Bowl triumph should do it.