By Michael Sutter
After five Super Bowl victories, the duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have forever ingrained their legacies into the history and lore of the NFL.
With their win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, Brady and Belichick became the winningest quarterback and head coach, respectively, in Super Bowl history. Before, Brady was tied with Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw and 49ers icon Joe Montana. Belichick was tied with Chuck Noll, who is commonly cited as one of the greatest head coaches of all time.
Super Bowls have traditionally been non-competitive games in which one team won by a large margin. Super Bowl XX featured the Chicago Bears blowing out the New England Patriots 46-10. Super Bowl XXIV saw Joe Montana’s 49ers beat John Elway’s Broncos 55-10.
Remarkably, the Patriots’ Super Bowl appearances, including their two losses to the New York Giants, have been tight games.
Brady’s first Super Bowl victory against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI was largely due to a late drive leading to an Adam Vinatieri field goal, stifling a strong Rams comeback in the fourth quarter and preventing the game from reaching overtime with a final score of 20-17.
His second victory against the Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII came after a frantic fourth quarter shootout which featured the Panthers scoring 19 points and the Patriots scoring 18, with a final score of 32-29.
In Super Bowl XXXIX against the Eagles, two late drives leading to a touchdown and Vinatieri field goal helped the Patriots win once again, 24-21.
In Super Bowl XLII and XLIV against the Giants, the Patriots lost by scores of 17-14 and 21-17, respectively, after the Giants staged late game comebacks of their own.
Years later in Super Bowl XLIX, the Patriots defense stifled the Seahawks offense and allowed Brady to make a final drive to put the team ahead 28-24. A bizarre and untimely play call by the Seahawks prevented them from scoring a game-winning touchdown, actually throwing an interception in the process, with 25 seconds left to play.
Their most recent Super Bowl victory may be their most dramatic, staging a monumental 25-point comeback in the second half after the Falcons led 28-3 with over 8:31 left to play in the third quarter. It was by far the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, and tied for the third largest comeback in the history of the NFL. With the score tied at 28-28, the game went into overtime (also a Super Bowl first) and the Patriots won on their first possession.
The victory is emblematic of a franchise that, in spite of the adversity they seem to encounter every year, dominate the league and can never be counted out.
Various cheating scandals have led to many NFL fans denying the Patriots’ legitimacy, but after a scandal-free season which even saw Brady serve a four-game suspension as punishment for “Deflategate,” it becomes increasingly difficult to paint them as cheaters and liars.
The numbers don’t lie. The most playoff victories and Super Bowl victories by a head coach and quarterback, both individually and as a duo, must indicate some high level of greatness.
To this Jets fan, they’re the greatest of all time.