For nine straight weeks last season Bill Belichick gave the pro football world a lesson in winning football. Now in the semifinals of the All-Time Patriots Tournament both he and his 2001 Super Bowl Champion Patriots plan on delivering a textbook demonstration on the subject.
Belichick's opponent is Raymond Berry's 1985 AFC Champion New England Patriots, a team that is a mirror image of his own club. Both teams employ conservative offenses that depend on their aggressive defenses to provide them with scoring opportunities by forcing turnovers. In 1985 New England became the first team to win three straight road playoff games en route to the Super Bowl. Berry's Pats forced a total of 16 turnovers in those three games, which is quite appropriate since turnovers are the subject of Belichick's first lesson for today.
Two minutes into the game Tony Eason tries to hit Irving Fryar but is hurried by Willie McGinest. Ty Law picks off the errant throw and dashes 21 yards for a quick 7-0 lead. It's the second straight game the defense has scored for the 2001 club, and it helps them grab immediate control of the contest.
After forcing the '85 Patriots to punt Tom Brady is at his finest, moving his club 74 yards in 12 plays in a drive that takes well more than seven minutes. Three times he converts third down situations to keep the drive alive, the last coming on a quick slant to Troy Brown that turns into a touchdown to increase the lead to 14-0.
"That year was my first full year as head coach and we were in the process of installing a new offense," explained Raymond Berry. "We had not yet put in the entire passing offense so when we fell behind like we did in the Super Bowl we were at a big disadvantage."
Berry couldn't have been more prophetic, as Bill Belichick delivers his next lesson on pressuring the quarterback. Eason is dazed after he is dropped on consecutive plays by Lawyer Milloy and Tedy Bruschi, and veteran Steve Grogan comes in to replace him. With Grogan at the helm the '85 Patriots finally start to move the ball through the air, and at the start of the fourth quarter kicker Tony Franklin finally gets his team on the board with a chip-shot field goal.
With the momentum of the game starting to shift Belichick delivers his final lesson on winning football. With 10 minutes left to play and the game still in doubt Troy Brown fields a short Rich Camarillo punt, weaves his way to midfield, then finds an opening and returns the punt 72 yards for a game-clinching touchdown. Despite the presence of some of the best return specialists in team history it is the first special teams touchdown of the tournament, and it earns Brown his second straight game MVP award.
That concludes Coach Belichick's lessons for today. Please leave the stadium in an orderly fashion and be on time for his next demonstration a week from today when the title of All-Time Patriots Champion will be determined.
Foxboro Stadium, Foxboro MA
|1985 New England Patriots||0||0||0||10||-||10|
|2001 New England Patriots||14||0||0||7||-||21|
NE '01-Law 21 interception return (Vinatieri kick) 12:58
NE '01-TD Brady 26 pass to T.Brown (Vinatieri kick) 2:38
NE '85-FG Franklin 27 13:44
NE '01-T.Brown 72 punt return (Vinatieri kick) 10:10
NE '85-Fryar 80 pass from Grogan (Franklin kick) 5:30
|**NE '85**||**NE '01**|
NE '85- Collins 7-51, C.James 18-38, Eason 2-8, Grogan 1-4
NE '01- A.Smith 20-39, Edwards 3-7, Brady 2-4, Faulk 2--3
NE '85- Fryar 4-121, Ramsey 2-13, Morgan 2-39, Dawson 2-21, C.Jones 1-14
NE '01-T.Brown 7-64, Patten 4-39, Edwards 2-13, Wiggins 2-15, Faulk 1-4,
NE '85- Eason 7-18-2-67
Grogan 4-10-0-141, 1 TD
NE '01-Brady 17-28-0-139, 1 TD
NE '01-Law 1-21, Milloy 1-18
NE '85-Tippett 1, Veris 1
NE '01-Vrabel 2, Bruschi 1, Milloy 1, Seymour 1
MVP:Troy Brown NE '01