The End Of The Dynasty?

On Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles overcame the historical might of the New England Patriots to claim their first ever Super Bowl win and deny the Pats their record-equalling sixth.

The Patriots have appeared in a record 11 Super Bowls, but could not draw level with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ six wins at Super Bowl LII after being beaten 41-33 by the Eagles.

And that loss is now leading some pundits to ask: is the Brady-Belichick dynasty finally over?

The Brady-Belichick Era:

January 2000 – The New England Patriots appoint Belichick as Head Coach after he bizarrely resigned as Head Coach of the New York Jets just one day into the role.
















April 2000 – Michigan QB Tom Brady joins the Patriots as 199th pick in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft. The Patriots finish the regular season that year with a record of 5-11 and miss the playoffs. It is to be the only losing season to date under Belichick, and also the only one in which Brady did not start any regular season games.

February 2002 – Tom Brady, replacing injured QB Drew Bledsoe, leads the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXVI where they defeat the St Louis Rams with a 48-yard field goal as the clock ticks down to zero. Brady collects his first Super Bowl MVP award.

February 2004 – Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri repeats his heroics of two years prior by kicking a late field goal to see the Patriots win their second ever Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers in Houston. That regular season began with a 31-0 drubbing by the Buffalo Bills in week one, and ended with an exact reverse of that score as the Pats beat the Bills 31-0 in the final week to secure a 14-2 record. Belichick wins the NFL Coach of the Year Award.

February 2008 – After leading the Patriots to the NFL’s first ever unbeaten regular season since the 16-game schedule was introduced in 1978, Belichick’s Patriots are upset at Super Bowl XLII by Eli Manning and the New York Giants.

February 2017 – Brady and Belichick lead the Patriots to the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. They defeat QB Matt Ryan’s Atlanta Falcons in the first Super Bowl ever to be decided in overtime. The Patriots were down 28-3 in the third quarter, but after clawing it back and then electing to receive the ball having won the coin toss in overtime, Brady conducts a ruthless drive that culminates in James White stretching to score the winning touchdown.

February 2018 – In a riveting end-to-end game, Brady is sacked in the fourth quarter by Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham to turn the ball over to the Eagles for the first time in the game. They go on to win the game 41-33 and leave serious questions hanging over the ongoing power of the Brady-Belichick dynasty.

Is it really over?

Tom Brady has four Super Bowl MVP awards, more than any other player, as well as three league MVP awards. He has also led his team to 15 Division titles, more than any other QB, in the 17 years of sheer dominance imposed by the Patriots during the Brady-Belichick reign.

And it isn’t like they have not faced challenges during that time, none more seemingly insurmountable than the deficit faced against the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. But Brady, all but indisputably the greatest quarterback of all time, found a way. On Sunday night, even after Brandon Graham’s eventually game-winning play in the dying embers of the game, no commentator was willing to write the Patriots off.

But Brady is now 40 years old. And Belichick’s wisdom and discipline has come under fire more this season than ever before in his and Brady’s reign of terror.

In 2015, Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler made the game-winning interception to win them the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. But he was inexplicably dropped by Belichick for this year’s all-important game against the Eagles, and he has been vocal in his indignation about that decision, saying that they have given up on him.

And that sort of recalcitrance from players has been rife this season relative to any other under the disciplinary iron fist of Belichick. Realising Brady’s advancement in years, Belichick has been moulding Jimmy Garoppolo to be Brady’s successor since he picked him in the 2014 draft. But this was a move that threatened Brady, who this season reportedly made his feelings known to Patriots owner Bob Kraft. Kraft then forced Belichick to trade away the prodigy, much to the coach’s dismay. The trio denied any such occurrence in a joint statement, but as the old saying goes: there’s no smoke without fire.

Add to that the uncertainty of Rob Gronkowski’s future. He was discernibly non-committal in comments made after the game. If Brady loses his number one weapon in the Gronk, maybe it truly is a sign that the Brady-Belichick reign, which has brought about unparalleled success for the Patriots over nearly two decades, is finally fading.

The Patriots, under the stony-faced coach and the all-American golden boy, have been the team that opposition fans love to hate. And maybe it’s about time they got a fair shot at glory.

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