Patriots

Super Bowl Aftermath: For the Patriots, the Legacy is Secure … and There’s More to Come

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PHOENIX — Lingering thoughts from Super Bowl XLIX, which somehow managed to trump every one of the previous XLVIII …

I couldn’t be happier for Tom Brady today, which I think tells you what a decent and genuine person he is. The guy who has everything has managed to remain grounded and rootable. That’s pretty remarkable. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s right there with Larry Bird and David Ortiz in terms of clutch performances. There needs to be a “30 For 30” film, pronto, on that go-ahead drive.

How stupid does the notion of a rift between Belichick and Brady look today? Seriously. I thought Belichick was going to tear up this morning when he was talking about how much respect and admiration he has for the way his quarterback does things. There are disagreements even in the best of marriages. The respect between these two, forever tied in history, has not waned. It’s grown.

I’ll never understand why getting to a Super Bowl and losing is regarded as a bigger negative in a quarterback’s body of work than getting bounced somewhere along the way. Joe Montana’s 4-for-4 record in Super Bowls is awesome. But it’s not a bigger accomplishment than getting there, say, six times and winning four. Look at it this way: In the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era, they have finished first four times, second twice, and in the top-four in the league three other times. That is incredible.

If Darrell Bevell had designs on getting a head coaching job someday, that dream is on life support now. Not only did he make an all-time bonehead call — I’m sorry, that Tasmanian Devil Marshawn Lynch was not being stopped there no matter what his numbers were on the goal line this year — but he pinned some of the blame on Ricardo Lockette’s route. That’s amateur stuff from a supposed leader. That may be the only time as Seahawks coach that Pete Carroll wondered what Ernie Zampese would do.

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Not sure which part of the Malcolm Butler play — help me out here, there’s got to be a better name for it than that — was more impressive: The total lack of hesitation in jumping the route when a fraction of a second of indecision would have doomed him, or hanging on to the football after he got there. If he doesn’t make the catch, Seattle probably wins on the next play.

The Patriots have many unsung heroes who haven’t received the due they deserve. Brandon Browner, who took Chris Matthews out of the game after the no-name receiver hit the Patriots with a who-the-hell-is-this-guy? haymaker in the first half. But at the top of the list has to be Dont’a Hightower for tripping up Marshawn Lynch and keeping him out of the end zone on his 4-yard run in the final minute. That play saved the Patriots and gave the Seahawks one more chance to screw it up.

Speaking of which … a Pete Carroll team screws up and loses its mind in the end? My world is back in order. The Seahawks are a truly great team. They are. But they flashed so many characteristics last night that reminded me of Carroll’s New England teams. The premature celebrations, especially, and the Bruce Irvin-led chaos at the end when things didn’t go their way. I expect the Seahawks to regress in that familiar increment — by one win each year, just like Carroll’s teams did here. They’ll lose in the NFC Championship Game next year.

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At his press conference this morning, Brady sighed when asked a question about Deflategate. It is a bummer that it’s brought up on the Day After, but you know what? Who cares about that? If you’re a Patriots fan, your team just won the Super Bowl for the fourth time, and the first time in a decade, and if you bookend the beginning of this run with last night’s win, the truth is obvious: This stretch of dominance has never been — and never will be — matched in NFL history. Savor it, and ignore the noise Those who bring up Deflategate at this point are coming at it from a place of envy. Who cares what they think? This belongs to you, not them.

But you know what the best part of this is? The culmination does not equal the end. The Patriots place — and Belichick’s place, and Brady’s place — as The Greatest Ever — is pretty close to indisputable. And yet there is still time to enhance it even more. The symmetry of winning a fifth Lombardi Trophy in the 50th year of the Super Bowl — and in San Francisco, Brady’s de facto hometown, no less — sounds like a decent plan, no?

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