There hasn’t been much to nitpick about the New England Patriots in recent years. The team has made it to the Super Bowl seven times since 2002, and even their two losses have been nail-biters.
But if you wanted to find one area in which you could criticize the normally unbeatable duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick it would be in the first quarter of the Super Bowl. In their previous seven Super Bowl appearances, the Patriots didn’t score a single point in the first quarter.
That trend was finally broken Sunday. With 4:20 minutes left in the quarter, Stephen Gostkowski got the team on the board early against the Philadelphia Eagles with a 26-yard field goal to tie things up 3-3. So much for the Patriots being slow starters.
In fairness, that hasn’t really mattered in the past. The team has still won five of those seven Super Bowls despite not scoring much early. We all still remember last year’s 28-3 comeback over the Atlanta Falcons.
Not only that, but their two losses to the New York Giants came on some excellent last-second plays. Sure, they lost those games, but they put themselves in good position to win. No deficit has proved too big for them when it matters.
The team’s ability to overcome those early struggles may say something about their ability to make adjustments as the game progresses. Belichick and his staff have been known for that, and it’s a major reason many of his coordinators get hired elsewhere all the time.
There may be no need for adjustments this time around. The Patriots managed to get on the board earlier than ever in the Super Bowl. Is that a sign that the team is prepping to drop 50-plus on the vaunted Eagles defense? Or will this somehow throw them off their game?
Probably the former. We can’t imagine a scenario where scoring early in the Super Bowl is a bad thing.
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