The New England Patriots punched their ticket to Super Bowl LIII after a magical, pulse-pounding finish last Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in an overtime win, topping the likely NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes, and the Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Brady and company put up 37 points on the board, and there was no lack of exciting plays throughout, as back and forth action kept the audience in attendance and the television audience at home on the edges of their seats (or what they could feel) all night long.
That’s right, the weather made things a bit interesting. All week long, the players and coaches alike received questions if they were worried about playing in the artic temperatures, and the answers were pretty much the same across the board; we just want to win, regardless of what the thermometer says.
Nonetheless, New England fought tooth and nail and even fended off a late Mahomes surge to try and send Kansas City to their first big dance in 49 years. It fell short, and the Patriots dynasty full of heart-stopping finishes and magical momentslives on.
The thing is, we’re all excited here in New England that the Patriots are going back to their fourth Super Bowl in five years, and Tom Brady will be playing in his NINTH NFL Championship game. But, are we truly appreciative of what we’re seeing? Or are we just brushing it to the side because it now feels like a routine?
Trust me, I realize it can be hard to take all this for granted. Some teams, and some fan-bases go decades without seeing their team reach just one Super Bowl, and Patriots fans have been fortunate enough to see the big game featuring their team nine times since 2001.
To measure just how dominant the Patriots dynasty has been, let’s look at how they stack up against the best dynasties in sports history.
Montreal Canadiens (1956–‘60, 1965-‘69, 1976-‘79)
The Canadiens ruled the NHL for the better part of 23 years from ’56 all the way up until ’79, winning the Stanley Cup 13 times during that span. From ’56-’60 they won five straight. Then, they proceeded to win four championships in five seasons from ’65-’69. Montreal capped off the dynasty with another four-peat from ’76-’79.
The Canadiens have won more Stanley Cups than any other team in the NHL.
Boston Celtics (1956–‘86)
Keeping things in the Boston realm, the Boston Celtics are another one of the most storied franchises in professional sports history. They boast the most NBA titles with 17, one ahead of their arch-nemesis Los Angeles Lakers.
For 30 years, Boston dominated the basketball world, winning 16 championships in 30 years. 26 of those 30 years were winning seasons, including winning 18 conference championships.
From ’57-’69 led by Bill Russell, Bob Cousy and John Havlichek, Boston would rack up 11 rings, ripping off 8 in a row from ’59-’66. Maybe winning multiple championships in a row is just a Boston thing, huh?
New York Yankees (1996-’03)
Reading this one might raise some people’s blood pressure a little bit, so I’m sorry in advance. Even though we’re not the fondest of the Bronx Bombers around these parts, we still can’t ignore their incredible run during the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Jason Giambi, Aaron Boone (sigh), and the newest man to be enshrined in Cooperstown, Mariano Rivera led New York to 8 playoff appearances, a division title every season except for ’97, 6 American league pennants and four World Series titles in ’96, ’98, ’99 and ’00.
Now, to see how the Patriots match up with these dynasties:
New England Patriots (2001-Present)
For 18 years, spearheaded by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the Patriots have had 18 straight winning seasons, 10 straight division titles, 13 Conference championship games (8 straight from ’11-’18), a perfect 16-0 regular season in ’07, 9 Super Bowl appearances and 5 Super Bowl championships, with the potential for a sixth.
That was a lot, and you can’t reeeally put it into words just how amazing this run has been without seeing it for yourself. However, the numbers should do it a little justice by itself, and at least paint a slight picture of how perfect this run has been.
Folks, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this run is something that will never be replicated ever again. Regardless of the team, and regardless of the sport. Especially nowadays with all the player movement, free agency, cap space, and players wanting the biggest deals they can possibly get their hands on, it’s amazing that each and every year, regardless of the turnover, that Belichick and his staff can put a team on the field that can buy in and compete for 60 minutes every Sunday with a shot at a Super Bowl.
This year alone New England lost key pieces in Nate Solder, Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola, Bradin Cooks, who they’ll face in the Super Bowl, and Malcolm Butler. They replaced those players with Sony Michel, Trent Brown, Cordarrelle Patterson and Jason McCourty.
All year, New England heard the doubters, and you can’t convince me that they didn’t. Tom Brady said it the best on the field while celebrating with Chris Hogan: “I’m too old. You’re too slow. We’ve got no skilled players. We’ve got no defense. We’ve got nothing. Love you man. Unreal bro.”
And even so, through it all, New England has hung tough and they emerged from Arrowhead Stadium with the Lamar Hunt Trophy in their grasp, with their eyes set on an even bigger goal.
We’ll see in two weeks down in Atlanta if they can accomplish that goal. The Rams are no pushover, despite probably being handed the NFC Championship on a blown no-call pass interference which, to the naked eye on the live broadcast was completely blatant.
However, it’s a Super Bowl 36 rematch that’s on the table head of the Patriots, with the same coach and quarterback against the same team that launched new England on this fairy-tale run. Los Angeles possessing a young quarterback, a great running game, a defense that can stifle an opponent and a coach not afraid to think outside the box will certainly leave Belichick with his hands full.
But, anytime you give the best coach to ever do it two weeks to prepare for a game, it’s like giving candy to a baby, he relishes it. He thrives on it.
This one will certainly take everything they’ve got.
-Brendan Howe is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @Brendan__Howe