I often dream of an alternative NFL history. In it Bill Parcells resigns from the Giants in time for their defensive coordinator, Bill Belichick, to take over and the Giants, fresh off a great Super Bowl victory, go on to dominate the NFL for years.
There are two problems with my dream scenario. First, Belichick went to Cleveland off of that Super Bowl victory and failed- 36-44 in his time there. And second, Tom Brady wasn’t the Giants QB.
I think it is time to recognize that as accomplished as Belichick is, he is nothing without Brady. Brady is the greatest draft pick ever. Every NFL team missed on him, at least FOUR times. That is their shame and evidence that Belichick isn’t quite the genius people make him out to be. He’s very good, but he hit the lottery with Brady.
Take Brady away from the Patriots and do they win any of their Super Bowls? I don’t think so. Belichick has done s lot of great moves, but Brady is the guy who makes it all work.
As for the game. Atlanta blew it with some terrible play calls and Brady was magnificent when it mattered.
Ahead 28-20 with the ball and just under six minutes, there are two clear goals 1- score to make the game a two-score difference 2- run the clock. Three plays later, Atlanta is on the New England 22-yard line with 4:47 left in the game. At this point, goal #1 is within reach a and goal #2 can be achieved if you run the ball. They ran on first down, lost a yard, and then went to the pass. A sack, inexcusable at this point, backed them up 12 yards. That’s not great, but a potential field goal would still be 51-yards at this point, if they didn’t gain another yard. Instead, they call pass agajn and while they competed it, a penalty negated the play and backed them up another 10 yards- out of field goal range. On 3rd and 33, they tried to pass again, when a run could have got them a possible field goal and forced New England to spend another time out.
And you know against almost any other QB, they still might have gotten away with their stupidity, but Brady, with the help of an amazing catch, made them pay. My only quibble is with the NFL’s stupid overtime rule. Both teams should get the ball once to have a championship decided off of a coin toss is ridiculous.
Finally, think about the sports run we are on. You had the Super Bowl and the college National Championship game decided on the last play. You had extra innings in Game 7 of the World Series. You had the NBA finals go seven games with a 3-1 comeback by the winning team. And yes, while it broke my heart, you had March Madness decided by a three at the buzzer.
I have been racking my brain to find a comparable run and I can’t. I think the 2016-17 sports championship cycle is the greatest we have ever seen.