The Patriots are Super Bowl bound again.
In spite of any perceived weaknesses, whether by sports media members or even the Patriots themselves, about this iteration of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s football dynasty, the Patriots will play the Los Angeles Rams on Feb. 3, in Atlanta, for what would be New England’s sixth Lombardi Trophy.
As Brady drove down the field at Arrowhead Stadium during overtime of Sunday night’s AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs, football fans across the world came to terms with seeing the NFL’s most hated team advance to its third Super Bowl appearance in as many years.
The Detroit Free Press took the opportunity to remind New England fans of their team’s inauspicious start to 2018. The Detroit Lions, coached by former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, only amassed a 6-10 record this season, but they did get the best of the AFC champion Patriots in Week 3 of this season, defeating New England 26-10.
#BREAKING: The New England Patriots, who lost by double digits to the Detroit Lions last fall, will play in Super Bowl LIII.
— Detroit Free Press (@freep) January 21, 2019
According to Pro Football Reference, Tom Brady threw for only 133 yards and one touchdown pass in that game and posted his second-worst quarterback rating of the season, while the Lions gained nearly double the Patriots’ yardage throughout four quarters. They stomped down the field for two passing touchdowns from Matthew Stafford and four separate field goals from kicker Matt Prater, all less than 40 yards out.
The game was an uncommon disaster for the Patriots and sparked much of the early-season panic that appears to now motivate Brady and his teammates through their latest Super Bowl run.
The Lions and Patriots will not meet again in the 2019 NFL regular season. Due to the NFL’s rotating schedule formula, it’s likely the two teams will not play for a few more years. Of course, there’s always the chance the Lions and Patriots find their way to the Super Bowl next season, but given that Detroit’s football team has not advanced past the wild card round since the 1991 NFL season, that kind of turnaround may need a few more seasons. Football fans will be forced merely to speculate who would win in a theoretical 2018 Week 3 matchup until the next time these teams do meet.