Patriots have the intangibles to win Super Bowl
ATLANTA – Welcome to the Intangibles Bowl.
Really, that’s the only thing you can point your finger to when you wonder just what the heck are they doing here?
This Patriots team was left for dead back in mid-December. Two straight losses, one seemingly outrageous gaff in Miami and then a hard-luck loss to a desperate Pittsburgh team.
The five teams they lost to during the season did not make the playoffs. Now, granted, they didn’t lose to an AFC playoff team all season. Maybe we should have known.
There are the Good Patriots. There are the Bad Patriots. Which ones show up today for Super Bowl LIII against the Rams?
For the last four games – the regular season final pair against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets – the Good Patriots emerged again. Then they became close to Great Patriots in playoff wins over what were considered by many to be the two best teams in the AFC, the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs.
Patriots offensive lineman Trent Brown, has the unenviable task of protecting Tom Brady’s backside against Rams and NFL sack leader, the monster Aaron Donald. But he said there was no doubt in his mind this Patriot team would recover and make the Super Bowl.
“We’ve got a great coaching staff, a great team,” he said, “and everybody works together with one goal in mind, and that’s to win.
“I knew that we would be here.”
Then Brown knew something we all didn’t. Maybe Patriots coach Bill Belichick did too.
“Everybody now needs to to just gear up for how we want to play the game and be ready to go out there and play,” Belichick said after the final practice Friday. “…We’ve played a lot of football this year. We have hit everything.
“I think we are ready to go.”
We knew we had the talent,” Kyle Van Noy said. “Not many other people think we do, for whatever reason.”
But the final message to the media was delivered late in the week by quarterback Tom Brady. He says the Patriots mental fortitude is one intangible that can’t be measured or predicted.
“There’s obviously a lot of games, it’s a long season,” Brady said. “It’s a lot like climbing a mountain, it’s a lot like running a marathon. You have some really great moments of achievment, and you have some disappointing things that happen. You’ve got to kind of figure out your way as you go. The goal is to reach the top, and only one team really reaches the top-top. We’re pretty close, as the Rams are.
“But it’s tough. It’s a struggle, it’s a daily grind in discipline, determination, mental toughness. All those things that are really intangible to an individual, maybe things you can’t necessarily measure. But in the end, that probably matters more than anything you can measure.”
Brady said in so many words that the “it” factor showed. You don’t go to nine Super Bowls unless you and a lot of your teammates have “it”.
“I think guys how they bring a positive, competitive winning attitude every day has been a great culture for me to be around. I think there’s been so many players that I’ve played with that represent those things. The reason why we’ve been to nine Super Bowls is guys want to bring their best and compete every day for their teammate next to them. You never want to let your teammates down.”
Brady said he’s seen and heard from a lot of those teammates that he rarely if ever let down.
“We’ll represent those guys,” Brady said. “They’ll be watching this team seeing if we embody the same characteristics that those championship teams had.”
These Patriots got a new life, if you will. The ones who played in last year’s Super Bowl have had a bad taste in their mouths since.
They likely won’t have that taste again late tonight.
Patriots 35, Rams 31.
SEASON RECORD: 81-46-2.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251,firstname.lastname@example.org, or@Telegraph _TomK.