It still remains open to debate who the best team in NFL history is but it’s worth bringing up again after Sunday’s Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLII saw the mighty New England Patriots fall to the upstart New York Giants 14-17. New England’s powerhouse offense just couldn’t get in synch against the Giants’ defense. Meanwhile the Giants were able to get just enough points to win on a defense that was remarkably stingy all season long.
For the 18-1 Patriots, the Super Bowl showed their only loss in the last game of the season. Before that, they tied the record for most wins in a season including the playoffs.
Along the way, they set many NFL records. They scored the most points in a season with over 500. Star quarterback Tom Brady threw a record 50 touchdown passes. Their kicker, Stephen Gostkowski set an NFL record for most extra points scored in a season.
With all those accomplishments in mind, it’s not a step to talk about this year’s Patriots in the same breath as the 1984 Chicago Bears or the San Francisco 49ers teams of the 1980’s.
The in-depth comparisons between the Patriots and those teams have been well-chronicled leading up to the playoffs. Much of the media have focused on how they would fare head-to-head and who truly is the best of all time. I don’t intend to go down that well-travelled road at this point.
For me, those teams are a point of reference for how much game has changed. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, it was unheard of for teams to win by over 40 points on a consistent basis. I’d further say that many a team then, as those of today, would feel uneasy about facing an offensive juggernaut with so many records to its name.
At the same time, I feel this year’s Patriots cannot be said to be definitively better than the teams of old. They had a great defense throughout the season and had decent special teams. However, you can’t be considered the best of all time if you didn’t win the championship.
Ultimately, that maybe what stops the Patriots from being better than other dynasties like the Green Bay Packers of the 1960’s or the Miami Dolphins of the 1970’s.
Ay yes, the 1972 Miami Dolphins. The team forever enshrined as the NFL’s true ‘perfect’ team. They went 17-0 and beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.
For now, those Dolphins don’t have to worry about anyone disputing their place in NFL history.
For the foreseeable future, the Patriots will go down as the only undefeated team in the regular season in NFL history not to win the Super Bowl.
The bottom-line for me is that the 2007 Patriots were a great team. They undoubtedly put themselves in the same league as the great teams of yesteryear. But to say they’re the best team ever? Like the Super Bowl, that’s one title that all their records cannot get.