It’s been quite the ride for the Patriots, but it’s not like they haven’t done this before. This will be the seventh time that the duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will play in the Super Bowl, the most by a head coach/quarterback duo. The things that make it happen, however, are decisions. Key signings, trades, and extensions helped the Patriots retain their offense and defense. Martellus Bennett was the big signing, but Chris Hogan had a spectacular year coming from Buffalo. Chris Long provided a spark off the bench. Shea McClellin has made some huge plays. Malcolm Mitchell, their draft pick, showed his massive potential as a rookie. Elandon Roberts stepped up after the Chandler Jones trade, and Kyle Van Noy has rose to the occasion as well. These role players who seemingly have no impact have, as a whole, helped the team get to this point.
This year’s run has been like no other. After an AFC championship exit at the hands of the Denver Broncos last year, the DeflateGate controversy started up again. Brady ended up taking the case to the United States 2nd Circuit Court, but in the end accepted the 4 game suspension. Jimmy Garoppolo ended up becoming the starter for the opening game against Arizona, which they won 23-21. The Patriots then faced the Dolphins, where they won 31-24. However, Garoppolo, who was torching the Dolphins defense, got sent to the locker room wit a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. That meant that rookie third-stringer Jacoby Brissett had to step up. He led them to a 27-0 victory over the Texans, but they lost the next week against Buffalo in a game where they were shut out at home, 16-0.
However, the Tom Brady revenge tour was just beginning after that loss. Brady came back with vengeance and picked apart the entire NFL after his return. He faced the lowly Browns after coming back, which was good for him. He dispatched them with 406 yards and 3 touchdowns, with no interceptions. That set off a run of 4 games in which he had a QBR of at least 84. Coupled with the emergence of LeGarrette Blount and the number one scoring defense in the league, the Patriots were the most feared team in the NFL. Their only loss after the return of Brady was to the Seahawks, who were crushed by the Falcons. The Patriots scored an average of 30 points per game, while holding their opponents to only 18 points after Brady’s return.
They were just getting started, as they made it past the Houston Texans with ease in the first round, and crushed the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship. From there, it’s onto Houston to face the electric Atlanta Falcons. A win and Roger Goodell handing the Lombardi Trophy to Tom Brady would make any Patriots fan beam. It’s been quite the ride for the New England Patriots as it has been for the last 10 years, but a Super Bowl this year would be sweeter than any other.