51 for LI: Super Bowl XXXIX and The Patriot Dynasty
[lead align=”default”]We have just 39 days to go until Super Bowl LI, and we might see the birth of a new football dynasty soon. Super Bowl XXXIX was the pinnacle of another.[/lead]
Winning back-to-back Super Bowls is about as hard as it sounds. Ask the Seattle Seahawks how hard it is, even when you think you have the opposition where you want them. Ask the Giants after going 11-1 in 2008, and then Plaxico Burress shoots his leg. Hell, ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who missed the next season and haven’t sniffed the big game in almost 14 years. When it happens, it’s a feat to be celebrated and revered.
The New England Patriots not only did that, but won three out of four. Super Bowl XXXIX was New England’s third trip there since 2001, and like the others, it was a victory. The golden era of Patriots football has not yet ended, with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick still contending for championships, but this was a special time for the Foxboro, Massachusetts franchise.
Super Bowl XXXIX: The Philadelphia Eagles
For years, the Eagles got to the NFC title game but could not win it. During their fourth straight visit to the NFC Championship, they beat the Atlanta Falcons to go to the Super Bowl. Donovan McNabb led the Eagles to a conference title after a 13-3 regular season in which they won the NFC East by seven games. Nobody else had a prayer in the division that year, and as it turned out, they were the NFC’s best.
The coaching staff was loaded with past, present, and future head coaches. Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg, Brad Childress, Pat Shurmur, John Harbaugh, and Steve Spagnuolo all coached the 2004 Eagles.
Super Bowl XXXIX: As For The Pats
New England won the Super Bowl for the 2001 and 2003 season; it was only natural that they went 14-2 and got there again in 2004. The Pats started 6-0 and only lost twice the whole year (Steelers and Dolphins). This team had plenty of brand names as well outside of Tom Brady. Deion Branch, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison, and Adam Vinatieri were there, just to name a few.
Super Bowl XXXIX: The Game
The Eagles struck first, as McNabb threw a second-quarter touchdown pass to LJ Smith, but Brady and the Pats answered with a short touchdown drive just before halftime. This was a 7-7 football game at the half, and the nice-and-easy Paul McCartney headlined the show after Janet Jackson’s famous incident the year prior.
When the game resumed, New England took the ball 69 yards down the field for a score. Tom Brady found Mike Vrabel on a short pass for six, and the Pats went up, 14-7. Late in the third, the Eagles answered thanks to the running back, Brian Westbrook, taking a McNabb pass in for the score.
A 14-14 game entering the fourth, New England notched the next two scores. Corey Dillon’s touchdown rumble capped a 66-yard Patriots drive, and Adam Vinatieri added three more with 8:40 to go.
The Eagles would come back, getting a 30-yard touchdown pass from McNabb to Greg Lewis. It’s said that McNabb was ill on the sidelines, but we also know Philadelphia went full-huddle and took their time moseying down the field. Andy Reid’s clock management has never been great, let’s be honest. Though Philly scored, they didn’t recover the onside kick, and though they got it back one more time, it was too late.