By Jon Gouge
Let’s just get this out of the way: yes, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have 5 rings. That’s something that no other Coach/Quarterback tandem have ever achieved, period. That being said, there’s a key stat that applies here: New England Patriots have never won (or lost) a Super Bowl by more than 6 points. Believe it or not, all of their wins have come down to one possession or even one play in the end. This isn’t about their losses though, so let’s take a short recap of the comedy of errors that are all five of New England’s Super Bowls wins.
Super Bowl 36 vs St Louis 20-17
Patriots capitalize on two atrocious first half turn overs from Kurt Warner putting them up 14-3. Rams first overall offense still only managed to put up 17 points and gave Brady too much time to setup a 48 yard Vinatieri field goal. Simply put, they left too much time and left JR Redmond largely uncovered in the final minutes.
Super Bowl 38 Vs Carolina 32-29
After a 29-29 shoot out game, Carolina kicker John Kasay flubbed a kick out of bounds and gave the Patriots the ball at the 40. Brady only needed 37 yards and had over a minute to get Vinatieri in range. Getting let down by your kicker happens but this was just ridiculous.
Super Bowl 39 Vs Philadelphia 24-21
With 5:40 left on the clock DOWN by 10 the Eagles took 3:52 to drive down the field and score. The Eagles defense forced a three and out and got the ball back with 0:55 left but in classic Donovan Mcnabb fashion, he threw his third interception of the game to end all hopes of a comeback. No sense of urgency killed the Eagles in the end, something Andy Reid is no stranger to.
Super Bowl 49 Vs Seattle 28-24
This one is easy: 2nd and 1. What coach in their right mind passes on 2nd and 1 when you have Marshawn Lynch? A simple run instead of pass and this game goes to Seattle not New England.
Super Bowl 51 Vs Atlanta 34-28
Time of Possession. 40:31-23:27 in favor of New England. No matter what anyone says (Read: Chip Kelly), how long your defense is on the field matters. When you’re playing one of the greatest QBs of all time and your defense isn’t the best, you need to control time of possession. The Falcons rushing attack was averaging 5.8 per attempt, and they were still passing when all they needed to do was kill the clock. There was no time management, they got up the line and kept moving even when it was late in the 4th. Instead the Falcons let the strength of this Patriot team (Tom Brady) have free reign of the clock and they paid the price for it. Like the Eagles, the Falcons make costly clock management mistakes. Two run plays and a 40 yard field goal would have put this game completely out of reach.
Looking back over these games is like watching Final Destination unfold in gridiron history, they all fell prey to their own stupidity. Every single Patriots Super Bowl appearance has been close, but save for the Giants no one else has been able to stare down the Patriots and survive. Everyone not named Eli Manning or Tom Coughlin has fatally flinched in the key moments and not a single New England Super Bowl has been decided before the final two minute warning. But you know what, that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how you win, it matters that you win. The team that makes the fewest mistakes ends up with a shiny trophy, a ring, and a parade. The Patriots have done it five times, there’s no disputing that. But the fact is: it’s much easier to be great when your opponents beat themselves.