February 3, 2008


Something in the Air: NFL Observers Say Super Bowl Win Would Make the Patriots the Greatest Team Ever (Mark Maske, January 27, 2008, Washington Post)

As captivating as the New England Patriots' 18-0 run to next Sunday's Super Bowl has been for fans, the observers who are most astounded by what the Patriots have done are those who have played and coached in the NFL, where the accepted wisdom in recent years had come to be that crafting an unbeaten season today, in a time of free agency and a salary cap, was nearly impossible.

"I never thought it would happen," Dan Reeves, the former coach of the Denver Broncos, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons, said last week. "Never, never, never. It's unbelievable what they've accomplished. You have to be very, very good and have a lot of good fortune. But they've played through adversity. They've had injuries. They've had games where they've had to come from behind. They've just found a whole bunch of ways to win. It really is amazing to me."

The Patriots will arrive in the Phoenix area for Super Bowl week with far more than a prospective fourth Super Bowl title in a seven-year span on the line. History is at stake. If the Patriots win, a case could be made that Tom Brady has had the best season ever by a quarterback, and that he already has done enough at 30 to be remembered as the greatest quarterback ever. An argument could be made that Bill Belichick is the most accomplished coach in history. And the Patriots, if they go 19-0, would have made a convincing case that they are the best team ever seen on a football field.

Reeves said that, in his mind, there would be "no question" that these Patriots would be remembered as the greatest team in history with one more victory.

For one of the rare times in sport the hype is radically understating the matter here. Consider that the Pats will have beaten every playoff team in the AFC except for Tennessee, and their AFC Championship opponent twice, and ran the table in the NFC East, which placed three teams in the playoffs, and their Super Bowl opponent twice. Other than Seattle, the only teams to make the post-season that they won't have knocked off are the ones that had easy schedules because they missed the playoffs last year, which is why all three went one & done. They'll not only have beaten every good team in the NFL but the next best more than once.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 3, 2008 11:04 AM

Best team will always be the subject of endless, fun debates.

I can't see any argument, however, that the Pats of the oughts aren't the best organization in football history and arguably, other than perhaps the classic Yankees, the best organization in pro sports history.

Posted by: Ibid at February 3, 2008 11:31 AM

On the other hand, Brady is hands down the best QB in football history.

Posted by: Ibid at February 3, 2008 11:31 AM

All that can be said is that they are the best of their era, which in NFL years is about 6 to 8 seasons.

The 1998 Broncos were very good, and their offense would have given the Pats more fits than Indy's 2007 version did. But that was 9 years ago.

The 1989 and 1994 49ers probably would have moved the ball at will on NE, but that was 13/18 years ago. Ditto for the 1992 Cowboys, but that was 15 years ago.

Could the Pats have scored against the 2000 Ravens? If Maroney was going to rush for 125 yards, perhaps, but I doubt if he would have gotten more than 40. And Brady would hit the dirt quite a few times, more than against anyone he played this season. The 2000 Ravens had a defense even better than the '85 Bears, probably second only to the '76 Steelers.

People talk down Miami in '72 because they only played 2 teams with winning records, but they went 12-2 in '73 and rolled through the playoffs, winning their games by a cumulative score of something like 70-20 (I don't remember the score of their divisional game). I don't believe the Dolphins were better thant the Steelers who followed, but they are the only team to play in three straight Super Bowls.

Also, the '76 Raiders were 13-1, probably their best team as well. Although they were handed their divisional playoff win over the Pats by the zebras, and were lucky to play a Steelers team that had 1 available running back in the AFC championship.

There's no way to 'prove' it, but I have a feeling that teams like the 2007 Jags, Colts, Cowboys, Steelers, and even the Packers, would have been .500 teams 10 or 20 years ago. They just aren't that good. Only NE, San Diego, and now the Giants look like they "belong".

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 3, 2008 1:27 PM

If you hold Maroney to 40 then Brady just lit up your secondary.

Posted by: oj at February 3, 2008 1:33 PM

If Maroney had rushed for just 40 yards against San Diego, the Pats would be 17-1 and crying like the Chargers did last year.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 3, 2008 5:51 PM

In fact, if Maroney has just 11 yards rushing in the 2nd half (as in the 1st), the Pats will lose the game. The speed rush is on.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 3, 2008 8:18 PM

The speed rush worked.

And I believe Eli threw for more yards than Brady. Who'da thunk that?

What a game.

Posted by: jim hamlen at February 3, 2008 10:11 PM

I'd say there's a GIANT case that they're not...

Couldn't resist.

Posted by: Ari at February 3, 2008 10:15 PM

Finished counting chickens yet?

Posted by: mike at February 3, 2008 10:28 PM

Let me be one of the first to congratulate the Patriots in assuming the mantle of the Red Sawx by upholding the New England/Boston tradition of blowing the Big Game in which they were prohibitive favorites.

If there was any sort of curse on Boston's teams, it's because their obnoxious fans never seem to have learned that you celebrate the victory AFTER the team wins the game.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 3, 2008 10:38 PM

Not only weren't the Pats the best team ever, but I'd say they were only the third team the Giants faced in the playoffs. And not to much ahead of the Bucs based on tonight's showing.

They call that an offensive line?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at February 3, 2008 11:04 PM

Tyree's catch was amazing.

Posted by: John Sterling at February 4, 2008 10:15 AM