Using a bit of history, if you're an opponent of the New England Patriots in a Super Bowl, and you can hold that team to 20 points or less, you're going to beat the greatest dynasty in a generation of the National Football League. At the very least, you'll be close.
In the three Super Bowl losses the Patriots have suffered under the regime of Bill Belichick, only the Philadelphia Eagles surrendered more than 17 points. In back-to-back losses to the New York Giants, New England scored 14 and 17 points, respectively.
By comparison, in the five Super Bowl wins prior to last night's 53rd edition of "The Big Game", the Patriots have averaged more than 29 points.
All of that changed last night.
In a defensive battle that had all the drama one would hopefully expect from a big game, the Patriots had to resort to some unconventional second-half play-calling and called on its vast weaponry to inch clear of the Los Angeles Rams 13-3, earning New England their sixth Super Bowl win, tying them with the Pittsburgh Steelers as the winningest Super Bowl franchise in the history of the game.
This time, it wasn't about Tom Brady's brilliance. It was about his perseverance and his durability.
This time, it wasn't about two offensive-minded teams trading touchdown for touchdown. It was two stubborn defenses, playing a game of chess and attacking each team's most potent weapons.
This time, it was about coaches. Two old-schoolers to be exact. Belichick and Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who waged mental war against the other for much of the night.
All it took was a little adjustment in the fourth quarter to turn the tables.
Going into the final 10 minutes of the game, New England was averaging just under 5 yards per play. The touchdown-scoring drive which gave the Patriots the lead for good was different, with four separate pass completions from Brady, twice to Rob Gronkowski (18 and 29 yards), once to Rex Burkhead (7 yards) and once to Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman (13 yards). Those four plays stretched and tore at the core of the Rams defense before Sony Michel scored from 2 yards out for the game's only touchdown.
This win speaks volumes about not only the dynasty of the Patriots organization, but it also sets fire to the myth that it's always been "all about Brady".
For the most part, Brady was quite pedestrian on the night. He had his moments of brilliance, but he also put a premature end to the game's opening drive with a terrible interception. He missed on several open routes and was hurried quite frequently by a strong interior defensive effort set forth by Phillips on the sidelines and carried out on the field by the likes of Aaron Donald and Ndamakong Suh.
This was a win for the ages for New England. And I mean that quite literally. Brady (41) now becomes not only the oldest quarterback to lead his team to a Super Bowl title, he is also the oldest player to have won the Super Bowl MVP at age 39 , and the oldest to have won the regular season MVP at 40 .
And for Belichick (66) , he further cements his place as arguably the greatest coach in history. Under his leadership, the Patriots have won 225 games, including 30 in the postseason and six in the Super Bowl. Belichick has led the Patriots to fifteen division titles, including five consecutive from 2003 to 2007 and then ten consecutive from 2009 to 2018.
I get it. There are fans out there who want their reign of dominance to come to an end. They want something shiny, something splashy, something pretty and different from what they're used to. Trust me, I understand that.
Reliability, I'd counter back, is a good thing. Dependability and steady footing is too frequently unappreciated.
But for this moment, once again, for the sixth time in 17 years, I'm a real big fan of reliable, steady, dependable old New England.