Patriots have built a dynasty on close wins

by Gary Shelton on February 2, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Friday, 4 a.m.

It has reached a point where the championships start to blur. It has reached a point where the word "dynasty" is thrown around.

The truth of it, however, is that the Patriots are not some high-powered machinery that chews up opponents along its way to another title, however. As well coached, and as well quarterbacked, as the Patriots are, at their core they are a blue-collar team willing to win a close game in a tight fourth-quarter.

Again. And again.

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The cruelty of the Patriots is that they tease you. They let an opponent hang around and think that they can smell victory. And then they win. Again. It's always a Rocky movie. They're on the ropes, and they land a lucky (?) punch. They pull the heroine out of the fire. They save Private Ryan.

Think about it. In the Patriots' five recent Super Bowl victories, and their two losses, they have entered their fourth periods in contested ballgames.

In 2001, they were tied with the Rams 17-17. And won by three. As the clock ran out.

In 2003, they were tied with the Panthers 29-29. And won by three. With four seconds to play.

In 2004, they were tied with the Eagles, 14-14, going into the fourth quarter. And won by three. They were up by 10 with 8:43 to play.

In 2014, they were behind the Seahawks 24-14 going into the fourth. They won by four when Malcolm Butler intercepted a pass at the goal line with 26 seconds to play.

In 2016, everyone remembers that they came back from behind 28-3. But going into the fourth period, it was still 28-12. And they won by six in overtime.

Ask yourself: Is it better to win by a crushing victory or by a nail-biter? The fiction writers would suggest that there is added drama in a narrow win, or one where you come from behind. A one-sided victory usually says as much about an inferior opponent as a superior champion. To be someone, you have to overcome some adversity along the way. Don't you?

Hey, the game was close when Robert Redford hit a home run in The Natural. The game was close when Burt Reynolds scored in the Longest Yard. Oddjob took James Bond to overtime in Goldfinger. And so on.

This the remarkable distinction to hold. It is proof you don't have to nuke other teams to build a dynasty. You just have to win the big game over and over.

Consider this; Dallas has won five games, and it's point margin in those games has been a plus 100. The 49ers won five, and their point margin has been 99 .The Steelers have won six, and their point margin has been 45 points.

The Patriots have won five games by a total of 19 points.

Along the way, time has claimed some of their big plays. Here's a nudge at some of the biggest.

2001: Before Adam Vinatierri kicked the winning field goal from 48 yards, the Patriots were moving downfield against the clock. With 29 seconds to play, on a second-and-10 play, Brady -- still a young player -- hit Troy Brown with a 23-yard connection.

2003: Once again, Vinatierri hit a game-winning field goal, this one from 41-yards out to beat the Panthers. This time, Brady converted a third-and-three with a 17 yard throw to Deion Branch. Brady had also hit Brown with back to back passes of 20- and 13-yards to erase a first-and-20 earlier in the drive.

2004: On the winning field goal drive (Vinatierri again. Go figure), Brady hit Branch on a 19-yard throw on second and 13.

2014: No secrets about this one. The Seahawks had the game won. All they had to do was give the ball to Marshawn Lynch. Instead, Seattle tried to get cute and throw the ball, and Malcolm Butler intercepted. Earlier, Brady hit Julian Edelman for 21 yards on a third-and-14.

2016: The Patriots' comeback from 28-3 still haunts fans in Atlanta. For instance, Arthur Blank recently griped about the 283 diamonds in the Super Bowl rings, rather than think about all the play calls that doomed Atlanta. But don't forget. The Patriots forced overtime when Brady completed a pass for a two-point conversion to Danny Amendola.

The plot is simple. If you get up on the Patriots, you better make sure they're dead. Otherwise, they will come back. The clock never seems to run out on New England (unless it's against the Giants). The distance never seems to great. And the quarterback never sweats.

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