It’s the first week of February, the sun is shining brightly in Boston, and Duck Boats are cruising down Tremont Street towards City Hall with Patriots players and coaches on-board.
Thousands of fans are lined up on each side of the route screaming at the top of their lungs, holding up signs, and passing around their favorite beverages. A few of those signs - and beverages - even make their way to the players.
The year is not 2002, or 2004, or 2005. It’s not 2015 or 2017, either. It’s 2019. Time is a flat circle, and the New England Patriots just keep going ‘round and ‘round.
Welcome to New England’s version of Groundhog Day — just replace Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe” with a Jon Bon Jovi track.
By now you know: The New England Patriots are Super Bowl Champions for the sixth time.
It’s their sixth championship since the 2001 season, and ninth Super Bowl appearance in that span — 18 seasons — all under Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and with Tom Brady at quarterback. And those 18 seasons have all been over .500 — another NFL record for consecutive winning seasons since the 1970 NFL merger.
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Think about that for a second. In a league designed to create parody and give more teams a shot at a title, the Patriots have won 33-percent of Super Bowls since 2001 and have been to 50-percent of them, including the last three.
The win also extends New England’s record-setting postseason wins total this decade to 16 — with one more season to go, too. This after tying the record in the 2000s with 14 postseason wins. That’s basically two straight decades of dominance.
It’s a run that not many franchises in the modern era can compare to — certainly none in the NFL. The 2001-2018(-and-counting) Patriots have a strong case for the greatest dynasty ever, in all of sports. Of course, this is subjective. It’s difficult to compare franchises in different sports and in different eras.
Then there’s the fact that the Pats didn’t win a Super Bowl after the 2004-05 season until the 2014-15 season. They did, however, play in five of the nine AFC Championship Games between those seasons, winning two of those games. They also just played in their eighth straight AFC Championship Game this season.
It’s not as if they disappeared for ten years in-between championship runs.
No, Sunday’s Super Bowl game won’t go down as the prettiest. Your favorite non-Pats fan has already submitted his or her formal complaint about a more exciting game next year, and the Patriots will surely take those requests into consideration. But there is beauty to be found if you can get past your personal Patriots vendetta.
Great teams figure out ways to win, and that’s what the Patriots have done over the last 18 years head and shoulders above every other NFL team. They’ve won with a stifling defense some years, they’ve won with a high-powered offense in others, and on Sunday they won in an ugly, grind-it-out fashion.
But they won.
Tom Brady threw an interception on his very first pass attempt, looked off most of the game, and then staged a 69-yard, game-winning drive in the fourth quarter — his sixth fourth-quarter or OT game-winning drive out of six Super Bowl wins. Bill Belichick coached laps around Sean McVay, and the Pats defense pretzeled Jared Goff.
With the win, Brady and Belichick even further cemented their cases as the greatest quarterback of all time and the greatest coach of all time. It was their 30th postseason win together, more than double the second-place coach/player tandem of Chuck Noll & Terry Bradshaw (14).
Brady now stands alone as the only NFL player with six Super Bowl rings to his name. He has gone from 199th pick to a system quarterback, to MVP, to GOAT, and when it’s all said and done, a transcendent player in all of sports. As for Belichick, the NFL should consider re-naming the Lombardi Trophy…
There is no pro sport with more turnover than the NFL, especially in this day and age. Players like Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi, Deion Branch, and Wes Welker have been replaced with players like Malcolm Butler, Donta Hightower, Rob Gronkowski, and Julian Edelman. And the list goes on.
That Kraft, Brady, and Belichick have sustained success for almost two decades – and in completely different styles over those years – speaks volumes for who they are on and off the football field.
It’s why, all things considered, the Patriots of the 21st century are the most impressive dynasty of all time.