Super Bowl XLIX will go down as one of the most dramatic, epic games in NFL history. From a pure football standpoint, it was an all time classic in a clash of two great teams that came down to the very end. However, the significance of the Patriot’s win goes far beyond just a Super Bowl championship, it solidifies unfinished business for one of the greatest modern day dynasties in professional sports.
Winning three Super Bowls in a four year span from 2001-2004 put the New England Patriots on the map as the team of the decade during the 2000’s. With a coach/quarterback combination that had so much success in their first couple of years, it was assumed that more championships were to follow. It was only a matter of time before they cemented their place in history. Like most things in life, though, it never comes easy. The Patriots continued to make the playoffs year after year and break record after record along the way, but couldn’t get over that final hump. Making things even tougher was that the whole world outside of New England wanted to see them fail.
The first significant outcome of this game is that it finally settles the Brady vs. Manning debate and solidifies Brady as the greatest ever. For years, this debate would rage on and simplified to the quarterback with the better regular season stats and passing records against the quarterback with the better postseason stats and winning records. Peyton Manning has the most one and done’s (9) in NFL history, and has been favored in 8 of them. Manning also has the most postseason losses (13) in NFL history, and a Super Bowl record of 1-2. Brady has the most postseason wins (21) in NFL history, the most Super Bowl appearances in NFL history (6), tied for the most Super Bowl wins (4), and tied for the most Super Bowl MVPs (3). As for regular season stats, Brady is just as good with a 50 touchdown season (2nd all-time), two regular season MVP awards, 392 career touchdown passes (4th all time), over 53,000 passing yards (5th all time), 160 wins as a starter (3rd all time) and a 0.773 winning percentage (#1 all time). He has gotten it done time after time with several different supporting casts, mediocre receivers, awful defenses, injuries, and in the clutch.
The second significant outcome of this game was cementing Bill Belichick’s legacy as the greatest coach of all time. Belichick tied Chuck Knoll for the most Super Bowl wins for a head coach with his fourth. He has 233 career wins, good for fourth all time, and 22 postseason wins which ranks as the most by a coach in NFL history. His 6 Super Bowl appearances tie Don Shula for most all time while his 9 Super Bowl appearances as a coach at any level are the most in NFL history. Belichick’s 12 division titles are the most all-time, and he is the only coach to win 11 division titles in a 12 year span. In addition, he is the only coach to win 3 Super Bowls in a four year span.
Finally, the Patriot’s fourth Super Bowl championship establishes their position on the Mount Rushmore of NFL dynasties, alonside San Francisco, Dallas, and Pittburgh. Are they the greatest dynasty ever? Well that depends on your timespan definition of dynasty.
And the most impressive part of all this? It’s not over.