The New England Patriots are in their seventh Super Bowl in 16 seasons. But what happens if Tom Brady and company come up short?
As we inch closer to Super Bowl 51, there has been a lot of talk about legacy, history and the GOAT. It’s certainly understandable. The New England Patriots are in the Super Bowl for a record ninth-time, seven of those appearances under the guidance of head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.
Seemingly the majority of the talk so far leading up to the game is where will Brady rank if New England should win. Or where will Belichick stand on the list of the game’s all-time sideline leaders. Again, it all makes sense since the Pats have been down this road before.
On the other hand, the Atlanta Falcons are still seeking their first NFL championship. Their only previous Super Bowl appearance came in 1998. It was a 34-19 loss to quarterback John Elway and head coach Mike Shanahan. Yes, the father of current Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
These days, legacy seems to mean a lot more to football fans. Perhaps because we are currently in an era where we have a team like the Patriots that has seemingly been unstoppable for more than a decade. There have been a record eight straight AFC East title. New England has won 10 or more games in 14 consecutive seasons and counting. There have been 16 straight winning seasons dating back to 2003—tied for the second-longest such streak in league history. These are daunting figures to say the least.
Yet, these Patriots have proven to be vulnerable on more than one occasion on Super Bowl Sunday. Just ask Eli Manning and the New York Giants what it took to get the job done. And since we have pointed out that this will be a record ninth Super Bowl appearance for the franchise, it’s only fair to note that a setback to Dan Quinn’s team would make the Pats the first team to lose five Super Bowls.
As for the big picture, it’s pretty simple: A win on Super Sunday by the Patriots does nothing but further cement the greatness of this organization. It’s a franchise that doesn’t show any signs of heading downward any time soon. However, would a loss to the Falcons in Houston be that big of a scar on this current dynasty? Would a third Super Bowl defeat take away from what Brady has accomplished during his magnificent 17-year career?
In some ways, these are somewhat ridiculous questions. But they will be posed should Belichick and his team come up short at NRG Stadium to the latest NFC champion. As for the answers, put down a strong “no.” And win or lose, we may be revisiting the topic a year from now.