Historic Dynasty

The Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon will be adding a 10th Lamar Hunt Trophy to its collection. That means that the New England Patriots, of course, will play in their 10th Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb.4 in Minneapolis, Minn.

Let that digest for a minute. At the turn of the century back in 2000, the Patriots had played in 15 playoff games and two Super Bowls – both losses — since the AFL-NFL merger. Their playoff record over those three decades was 6-9.

But the 21st century has been rather good to the Patriots. Super Bowl LII will be the team’s 37th playoff game since 2001. The Patriots are 27-9 in the playoffs over the last 17 season and among those 27 wins are eight conference championships and five Super Bowl titles. On Feb. 4, the Pats will have played in 19.2 percent of Super Bowl games.

The NFL has never seen a dynasty like this one. The Patriots will try to become the third team in Super Bowl history to win three championships over a four-year span. The other two to accomplish the feat? The Dallas Cowboys in 1992, 1993 and 1995 and the Patriots in 2001, 2003 and 2004.

The last time the Patriots won three out of four, they defeated their Super Bowl LII opponent – The Philadelphia Eagles – 24-21 in Jacksonville.

The Pats already hold the record for most playoff wins a decade with 14 during the 2000s. They currently have 13 since 2010 and can tie their own record with a win on Feb. 4.

Consider that in the five years before Robert Kraft bought the Patriots, the team was a combined 19-61 (.238). Since 1994, New England is 298-129 (.698) with 19 playoff seasons, 17 division titles , nine conference championships and five Super Bowl wins. No team has won more games, more division titles, more conference championships or more Super Bowls during that time.

No coach-quarterback tandem has ever reached the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady plateau. Together, they have won 15 division titles (nine in a row), reached 12 conference championship games (seven in a row) and now eight Super Bowls (two in a row) with five world championships. All of that is unmatched in league history. Other great combinations such as Vince Lombardi-Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw-Chuck Noll, Joe Montana-Bill Walsh, and even Troy Aikman-Jimmy Johnson never reached such incredibly lofty heights.

Those two legends would be the first to tell you that it has been great teams that have accomplished those feats rather than merely their hall-of-fame abilities. That doesn’t necessarily mean those winning clubs have been lined with star players, but rather with players that fit into a certain culture within the Patriots locker room that is not for everyone. Belichick is demanding and, in Brady, he has a leader that sets the ultimate example by working as hard as anyone in the locker room. Brady, like his teammates, also takes his lumps from the coaches.

The head coach certainly doesn’t coddle Brady. That was evident after the AFC Championship Game, during which Tom Brady led his 11th postseason (and 54th overall) fourth quarter comeback win while playing with 12 stiches in his right throwing hand. “We’re not talking about open-heart surgery here,” Belichick said when asked about Brady’s toughness.

That approach to his best player has to resonate though the locker room. Besides Belichick’s disdain for discussing injuries, he also never wants anyone placed on a perch above his teammates and that, as we’ve seen, includes Brady.

So as the Patriots magic carpet ride takes them to Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII, even the haters have to marvel at this unprecedented successful run.

Here are a few fun Super Bowl facts from Eric Shulman, a member of The Hall’s guest services staff:

  • As we now know, the Patriots will attempt to win three Super Bowls in four years for the second time after having done so in 2001, 2003 and 2004. The last time they won 3 of 4, the third was against Philly the Pats Super Bowl LII opponent.
  • For perspective, the Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies, 76ers and Flyers have won a combined three championships in the last 34 years.
  • The Patriots lost two Super Bowls (XX and XXXI) before winning three in four years. The Patriots lost two Super Bowls (XLII and XLVI) before earning the right to TRY to win three in four years again this year.
  • The Patriots Super Bowl XXXIX win over Philly came in Jacksonville. This year, the Patriots beat Jacksonville to face Philly. Philly beat Minnesota to reach the Super Bowl and the Patriots will now play Philly in Minnesota.
  • Philly beat Atlanta and Minnesota to reach Super Bowls XXXIX and LII.
  • Super Bowl XXXIX was the last game in New England for offensive and defensive coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, who left for head coaching jobs. Super Bowl LII is expected to be the last game in New England for offensive and defensive coordinators Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, who are expected to leave for head coaching jobs.
  • The Patriots are 3-0 vs. Birds in the Super Bowl (Eagles, Seahawks and Falcons).
  • The last two teams in the league to reach at least four straight conference championship games are the Eagles (2001-2004) and the Patriots (2011-2017).
  • The Patriots have lost three season openers with Brady as the starter (2003 vs. Buffalo, 2014 vs. Miami and 2017 vs. KC). The Patriots reached the Super Bowl in all three of those two seasons and won the previous two heading into Super Bowl LII. Incidentally, the Patriots also lost the 2001 season opener with Drew Bledsoe as the starting quarterback, but won the Super Bowl with Brady at the helm.