How Much Does Bill Belichick’s legacy Ride on the arm of Tom Brady?

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(photo from espn.go.com)

As the world gets prepared for what should be one of the best Super Bowl’s in recent memory played between no doubt the best two teams in the NFL this season, many will focus on the battle of wits on opposing sidelines.

Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick both have checkered pasts where they broke rules in building their empires. Belichick used (and still uses – see “eligible receivers”) questionable measures to gain advantages. Carroll, a convicted cheater while at USC, has dramatically altered his perception as a head coach with the dominating array of talent he has accumulated up in the great northwest. Carroll is one of just three coaches who have won both a Super Bowl and National Championship as a head coach. Barry Switzer (Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys) and Jimmy Johnson (University of Miami and Dallas Cowboys) are the others – Paul Brown won a National Championship at Ohio State and NFL title with the Cleveland Browns, but that was prior to the Super Bowl Era. While Carroll is seeking to join an elite group of NFL Head Coaches who have won multiple Super Bowls (See bottom of page), Belichick needs to change the perception that his success was built more on breaking the rules, an incredible streak of luck (see “Tuck Rule”) and having the greatest QB in the history of the NFL to cover any other glaring mistakes.

Looking at the success Belichick has had, its hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since he last won a Super Bowl. While his Patriot teams had clear deficiencies in previous years (especially defensively) this year’s team is perhaps the most complete team since he has put together since his 2007 team failed to complete their perfect season thanks to Eli Manning, David Tyree, Justin Tuck and Plaxico Burress. So while much criticism can and should go into Belichick’s personnel decisions, there is no doubt he and his entourage have done a great job putting together this years team.

There is no doubt when Coach Belichick retires, he will go down as one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, perhaps even the best. One would be a fool to argue anything else, even despite the large discrepancy in win percentage with (.766) and without (.452) Tom Brady. However, one area where the genius has remarkably failed is closing out games, and he has done so in the largest setting a head coach can. While the win percentage is obvious on its own, Brady has saved his coach from suffering the kind of reputation that would have destroyed his current legacy as a mastermind when the game “is on the line”, especially considering Belichick made his bones as a defensive genius before Tom terrific came along.

Looking back at New England’s 3 Super Bowl Championships, football fans remember Tom Brady leading his team down the field in the final seconds to set up Adam Vinatieri. That combined with holding off the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX is how NFL history celebrates the victories. However, looking deeper, one discovers a flaw that has since been exposed in the Patriots last 2 Super Bowl defeats to the New York Giants.

Looking at the Patriots five previous Super Bowl appearances under Coach Belichick, four times they have allowed either the tying or go-ahead score in the final 2 minutes of regulation. FOUR TIMES!!! Thank God for Tom Brady and Adam Vinatieri, who turned the first 2 blown leads (both game-tying TD catches by Ricky Proehl) into championships, otherwise Coach Belichick would be remembered in an entirely different light.

 

Coach Belichick allowing game-tying or go-ahead scores

Final 2 minutes of Super Bowl

 

vs Giants Super Bowl XLVI

Amhad Bradshaw 6-yd TD run with :57 remaining puts Giants ahead 21-17 (won by same score)

Ahmad Bradshaw scores go-ahead TD in Super Bowl XLVI

vs Giants Super Bowl XLII

Plaxico Burress 13-yd TD pass from Eli Manning with :35 remaining puts Giants ahead 17-14 (won by same score)

Plaxico Burress go-ahead TD reception in Super Bowl XLII

vs Panthers Super Bowl XXXVIII

Ricky Proehl 12-yd TD pass from Jake Delhomme with 1:08 remaining ties game at 29. Panthers lose on Adam Vinatieri 41-yd FG, 32-29

vs Rams Super Bowl XXXVI

Ricky Proehl 26-yd TD pass from Kurt Warner with 1:30 remaining ties game at 17. Rams lose on Adam Vinatieri 48-yd FG

 

Looking at Super Bowl history, a team failing to hold the lead in the final 2 minutes of regulation has only happened four other times. Sam Wyche watched as his Bengals defense was unable to stop Joe Montana and the 49ers third Super Bowl of the 1980s, as he capped a 92-yd TD drive with a 10-yd TD pass to John Taylor with :34 to give the 49ers a 20-16 win in Super Bowl XXIII.

Mike Holmegren’s Packers decided to let Terrell Davis score on a 1-yd TD to break a 24-24 tie with 1:45 left in Super Bowl XXXII to give Brett Favre enough time to score the tying TD, but was unable to do so, as John Elway won his first Super Bowl. After watching his Cardinals rally from a 20-7 4th quarter deficit to take a 23-20 lead, Ken Whisenhunt was 2:37 away from winning Super Bowl XLIII. However, Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes in the corner of the end zone on a 6-yd TD with :35 left to give the Steelers their sixth Super Bowl championship, 27-23.

Jeff Fisher is the last of the group, as his Titans, after rallying from a 16-0 deficit to tie Super Bowl XXXIV, allowed Kurt Warner to connect with Isaac Bruce on a 73-yd TD pass with 1:54 remaining. Adding to the heartbreak, Fisher would watch as Steve McNair came a few feet away from leading a game-tying drive himself.

So despite Coach Belichick’s no doubt Hall of Fame resume, which started as a defensive genius, he has watched his defenses allow as many game-tying or go-ahead scores in the final 2 minutes as all the other teams and coaches in Super Bowl history. Wow…

Coaches to win multiple Super Bowls

Chuck Noll            4

Bill Walsh              3

Joe Gibbs               3

Bill Belichick         3

Vince Lombardi    2

Bill Parcells            2

Jimmy Johnson    2

Don Shula               2

Tom Flores             2

Tom Landry            2

Mike Shanahan      2

George Seifert         2

Tom Coughlin         2

 

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