One more time, Patriots rule the world

by Gary Shelton on February 4, 2019 · 4 comments

in general

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Are you tired of them yet? Are you worn out by the falling confetti, which by now must be measured by the ton?

Are you weary of the fawning over Tom Brady? Yes, he's the finest quarterback in the history of quarterbacks, but haven't we acknowledged that for years?

Are you tired of close-ups of Bill Belichick's scowl, as if he is perpetually mad at the universe that has crowned him so often? No one has won like Belichick, who has done it in the middle of a free-agent era in which he has constantly said farewell to key players? Can't we just say "ditto" this time?

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Are you exhausted by Robert Kraft, the owner who keeps making great decisions? Have you heard enough of Rob Gronkowski? Of the conga line of great receivers? Of the Xerox machine that keeps spitting out excellence year after year?

Well, get over it. Once again, the New England Patriots are champions of the world, beating the Rams 13-3 for yet another trophy. Heck, by now, they are champions of the solar system. They keep winning. They keep looking toward talented opposition and saying "it's not your turn yet." And they keep expanding their trophy case.

“Everybody counted us out from the beginning of the season to midseason. But we’re still here,” Bill Belichick said.

No coach has ever been older than Belichick when he won the Super Bowl. No quarterback has ever been older than Brady.

"It was an unbelievable year," Brady said. "We fought through it more so than anything."

The Patriots did it again Sunday night. They added another chapter to their growing legacy. Already, this would be remembered as the time of the Patriots -- hey, it's an upset when anyone else wins it. Now, well, this is just running up the score.

Consider: For once, Tom Brady was merely good. But his receivers were great, and his defense was amazing. It was the lowest scoring Super Bowl of all time, even lower than Miami's 14-7 win over Washington.

The Patriots -- maligned through much of the year with five losses to non-playoff teams -- won the game with defense against the high-scoring Rams.  The Rams ran for just 62 yards and netted just 199 through the air. Los Angeles scored only a 53-yard field goal.

Brady had his moments, too. He led the Patriots on a tie-breaking drive in the fourth quarter, hitting Gronkowski with a 29-yard completion to set up the winning touchdown.

Overall, however, it was a reminder that defense still matters in the game. Between all of the rule changes favoring the offense, through all the quarterbacks taking over the game, the temptation is to dismiss defense as an outmanned unit trying to keep up. This game showed that isn't the case.

For a team that hopes to be on the rise -- such as the Bucs -- it stresses the importance of the defensive side of the ball. Oh, you still need a great quarterback, but a defense is capable of reducing a quarterback to a mortal.

What were the last days of the Mings like? The final weeks of the Roman Empire? It was like watching that. What the Patriots lack in skill they make up for in will. They own the big downs ... still. They find a way to win ... as ever. If you are old enough, you might remember the final title of Vince Lombardi. The Packers were starting to creak by then, but they found another way to win. In 1980, after the Steelers had won their four Super Bowls, they lost three of their last five games in the 1980 season.

The beauty of the Patriots, even in twilight, is that they can win a game in a variety of ways. They can run past you. They can throw over you. They can whittle your offense to splinters. They have great special teams. And Belichick gives them the ultimate edge.

There is a national love-hate relationship with the Patriots, and every New England fan should take it as a compliment. The coach is too smart. The quarterback is too skilled. The team is too versatile. Throw in the rule-bending that this team has been accused of, and yes, it is a detestable team. Unless, of course, you admire excellence.

The Patriots have more of it than anyone. More than the Steelers. More than the 49ers. More than the Cowboys or the Dolphins or the Packers.

They are the Patriots, and if you tell them that you are tired of them, they will thank you. It is the ultimate compliment.

See you again next year.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller February 4, 2019 at 10:00 am

Great line about the Mings and the Roman Empire Gary. You had me laughing at that. If the AFC East ever gets another team capable of making the playoffs this dynasty will end. The Pats got the Bye they didn’t deserve and healed up for the playoff run of their lives.

This was not a great or even really good Patriot team but they win by guile and guts. It’s a muscle only they seem to know how to flex. When will it end? Who knows but there can’t be much gas left in tank of this Patriot machine is there? Gronk may be gone next year and Brady is looking mortal. They always find a way but time does catch up with all the greats eventually. It’s taking longer than anyone could have expected in the case of these Patriots.

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Gary Shelton February 4, 2019 at 10:44 am

I agree. Still, other divisions cycle, and some of them are weak for a while, and no one else wins like the Patriots. They’re the smartest team and the most efficient one.

Yes, you’d think they will eventually age. But it hasn’t happened to date. The beauty of Belichick is that he wins when losing excellent players at positions other than quarterback.

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BILL MYERS February 4, 2019 at 7:23 am

Ditto!

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Gary Shelton February 4, 2019 at 10:44 am

A fine word, ditto.

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