Last year, my wife planned a dinner/get-together to celebrate my birthday. We invited a bunch of my family and friends.
My wife loves football, and she’s a Pats’ fan. All of my friends who were at the party are fans of different teams. There were a couple of my friends there who my wife was meeting for the first time. So she says to these two guys (I’m paraphrasing): “I’m a Pats’ fan, so I know that I can say whatever I want to <Oakland fan> and <Tennessee fan> (two of my other friends), and I can say whatever I want to you <Cincy fan>…” and then she looked at my other friend, and said, “But I can’t say shit to you.”
My other friend. The Giants’ fan.
Such is the nature of this curious rivalry.
For most of the past two decades, New England has achieved success heretofore unseen in the NFL. Year after year, season after season, they win. Players come. Players go. The constant has been Brady and Belichick.
Six Superb Owls. Nine AFC Championships. Thirteen AFC Championship appearances. Sixteen division titles. Just an incredible, unprecedented run of success.
In 2007, New England mowed down all comers en route to a 16-0 regular season record. Two playoff wins brought them to the big game, and a chance at history.
Everyone remembers what happened. New York did the unthinkable.
Four years later, the Pats were back in the big game. So was Big Blue. New England, once again, were heavy favourites, having had another dominant season while New York had barely made the playoffs at 9-7. Here was an opportunity for New England to win its fourth championship, and avenge the perfection-marring loss from four years previous.
And damned if those pesky New Yorkers didn’t do it to them again.
There’s no denying the accomplishments of New England during the Brady/Belichick era. Last season was the team’s EIGHTH STRAIGHT appearance in the AFC Championship game, for-crying-out-loud. It’s amazing. It’s freakish. It’s annoying. Whatever your opinion, the Pats being in the playoff mix year after year seems almost inevitable. They will go down as history’s greatest team. You simply can’t take that away from them.
As great as they’ve been, and as much as they’ve accomplished, nothing will ever erase those two losses to New York in the Big Game. One could be dismissed as a fluke. Twice is hard to ignore.
Those two New York victories in many ways epitomize what makes watching football so great. Week after week, season after season, what seems impossible becomes possible. There are no guarantees. The games are played, not on paper, but on the field.
NYG at New England
New England is a little banged-up, particularly on offence. Phillip Dorsett is out, and Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Rex Burkhead are all hurting. Plus, with injuries along the OL, Brady’s protection is still a work-in-progress. Still, as much as the Pats are hurting, New York is hurting more. Daniel Jones will have to face what is currently the best defence in football without RBs Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman, WR Sterling Shepard, and TE Evan Engram. That’s a pretty tall order. Again, it will be a good learning experience for the rookie signal-caller. And who knows; maybe, if the game gets out of hand, New York will put Eli in for a few snaps, just to give old man Brady some heart palpitations.
Winner: New England