So... What To Make of These Patriots?
A little ways into the second quarter of the Super Bowl, my friend Brandon and I were talking about how, if the Patriots win another close game, the only thing people are going to have to be able to write about next year if (and when) they get this far again is how, in three Super Bowls now, they have failed to blow anybody out.
In fact, with a close win against the Eagles, we figured (and wouldn't you know it...), they would, in some eyes, become a singularly enigmatic dynasty (well, "singularly enigmatic dynasty" I came up with later; Brandon and his wife had a two-year-old daughter along, so during the actual game we were mostly preoccupied -- with fair-to-middling success -- trying to keep her from breaking our host's stuff).
Certainly there will be those who attempt to qualify the Patriots' greatness by pointing out that none of their Super Bowl victories -- and relatively few of their playoff victories -- have been dominant. They shouldn't have even played the Rams because of the Tuck Rule, they wouldn't have beaten the Colts without cheating, they barely even beat the Panthers (the Panthers!), they only beat the Eagles because McNabb threw some interceptions, one wrong bounce and they could have lost any of those games, etc.
(I myself wrote a column much like that before last year's Super Bowl, for which I have a good explanation: I'm an amateur with a day job. You can't really expect me to know what I'm talking about. Although if you'll take a look, I put a disclaimer on there, because even as I wrote it I knew it was a stupid idea)
True facts all, but, as a wise man once said (in the context of golf, but, it works almost anywhere): they don't ask how, they just ask how many.
So, yes, the Patriots played Mike Martz's Rams (there aren't many coaches about whom it might be said "well, thank got the other team is coached by Coach X, or I'd be worried;" say what you will about Martz, but he's Coach X), the Panthers (the Panthers!), and a Philly team whose best player was injured (though you could hardly tell) in three Super Bowls, and they won by a grand total of nine points.
But, well... they won. They repeated as Super Bowl champions, which isn't terribly easy; it had only been done six times before. They won three Super Bowls in four years, which is even more difficult; only the Dallas Cowboys had ever done that. Yes, each victory was by only three points, but, how many Super Bowls do they have to win, by three points or otherwise? Eight? Seventeen?
How many more Super Bowls does this Patriots team have to win before they are recognized as one of the great teams in NFL history, having leapfrogged the Broncos, Redskins, Giants and Raiders squads that won multiple titles and having taken their place alongside the Steelers, 49ers and Cowboys?
Speaking only for myself, I can answer the question quickly and easily: none. They've won enough. I get it. Whether they win by 3 or 300, they're the best, and until they get beat, they'll stay that way.
(and please, let's all acknowledge the hell out of how great they are, okay? If there's anything this transplanted Minnesotan doesn't need to hear right now, it's a Boston sports fan complaining)