Warrior Weekly: Once again, NE comes through when it counts

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Warrior Weekly: Once again, NE comes through when it counts

WSPN's Duncan Stephenson writes his weekly column discussing a relevant topic in sports.

WSPN's Duncan Stephenson writes his weekly column discussing a relevant topic in sports.

WSPN's Duncan Stephenson writes his weekly column discussing a relevant topic in sports.

WSPN's Duncan Stephenson writes his weekly column discussing a relevant topic in sports.

Duncan Stephenson

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Almost everyone can agree that the Belichick-Brady led New England Patriots have dominated the NFL for the past 18 years, and that is correct. In the salary-cap era, their consistency is unmatched. However one may get the wrong idea about how exactly the Patriots have staked their claim as the league’s perennial power. Their domination is not one characterized by blowouts and easy victories, but by the ability to repeatedly execute at the highest level at the most crucial junctures of games. While it may not seem as impressive on the scoreboard (their five Super Bowl wins are by a combined 19 points), the fact that they continually thrive in close contests is more remarkable.

With their win against the Jaguars on Sunday, the Patriots did it again. In a huge game, New England found itself in a dire situation, in need of a 4th quarter comeback. Outplayed for the majority of the contest, Tom Brady and the offense found the end zone twice in final quarter, while the defense didn’t allow a point. The result: victory by the slimmest of margins, in a game defined by making the necessary plays in the most important moments.

Patriot fans have seen this before. Last second field goals captured Super Bowl titles in 2001 and 2003. An interception with under a minute to play in Super Bowl 39 secured the franchise’s third win in four years. A decade later, a goal line stand, completed by an interception in the end zone, put the Patriots back on top of the NFL world. The fifth ring was delivered by a 28-3 comeback, in which seemingly everything had to go right during the final 20 minutes of the game for New England to win. Of course, those are just the Super Bowls. Those don’t include games like the 2011 AFC Championship, when cornerback Sterling Moore broke up a sure touchdown in the end zone that would have sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl. Or another contest against Baltimore, this time in the 2014 Divisional round, when the Patriots overcame multiple 14-point deficits in order to advance.

As New England attempts to tie the Pittsburgh Steelers record for most Super Bowl wins by a franchise (6), I can assure you of one thing: Super Bowl LII will go down to the wire. A handful of key plays in the 2nd half will determine the NFL’s champion. Situations such as that make most teams nervous, and take away from their execution. But the players and coaches of New England have been there, done that, and won it before. So, come February 4th, pay close attention to the momentum shifting moments, and pressure situations. They have been the lifeblood of the greatest dynasty professional sports has ever seen.

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