The New England Patriots, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Blackhawks, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, and Ohio State Buckeyes have been joined by the United States Women's National Team (USWNT) as reigning champions after Sunday's victory in the World Cup Final. If only LeBron James (and I mean individually) had beaten the Warriors, or Joey Chestnut won this weekend's hot dog eating contest, the Evil League of Evil Supreme Council would have been complete.
The absolute dominance by the USWNT will have to do, and if you missed it, you need to find a way to rewatch the game.
The United States were facing Japan, the team that beat the US in the last World Cup final on penalty kicks (to translate to the non-soccer savvy, the US effectively lost on a post-overtime home run derby contest). This was a game about revenge (although the USWNT beat Japan in the Olympics the subsequent year) and, oh my goodness, did they get their revenge.
Within the first fifteen minutes of the game (games are 90-ish minutes long), the USWNT led 4-0, behind a hat trick (three goals) from midfielder Carli Lloyd. It was the first hat trick in a World Cup final, men's or women's, since 1966, and the fastest hat trick. Here's her first goal, three minutes into the game. Here's her second goal, four minutes into the game. And below is the third, which is really all you need to watch to understand how badly the USWNT dominated the game:
(and for good measure, here's Tobin Heath's goal to finish the game, because I'm her biggest fan in the whole world, so I have to give her props)
Lloyd's performance will go down as one of the best Finals performances in any sport, and with that in mind, let's look at the best Super Bowl outings by Patriots players.
1985: Patriots 10, Bears 46; Best Patriots performance: WR Stephen Starring; In an otherwise abysmal performance by the Patriots, Starring was the team's second leading receiver with 39 yards, and added an additional 153 yards on kick returns.
1996: Patriots 21, Packers 35; Best Patriots performance: RB Curtis Martin; The best performance could have gone to a couple defenders (Willie McGinest or Tedy Bruschi), but Martin's 70 total yards of offense and an additional touchdown on just 14 touches helped keep New England in the game.
2001: Patriots 20, Rams 17; Best Patriots performance: CB Ty Law; Law's interception return for a touchdown changed the complexion of the game, and his consistent performance throughout helped to stymie one of the best offenses in the history of the game.
2003: Patriots 32, Panthers 29; Best Patriots performance: QB Tom Brady; The Patriots needed every yard of Brady's statline and his 354 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception performance helped saved the game in a fourth quarter comeback.
2004: Patriots 24, Eagles 21; Best Patriots performance: WR Deion Branch; Branch tied a Super Bowl record with 11 receptions for 133 yards, but I think it's important to highlight that Branch combined for 21 receptions, 276 yards, and a touchdown in the 2003-2004 Super Bowls.
2007: Patriots 14, Giants 17; Best Patriots performance: ED Adalius Thomas; The New England defense kept the Patriots in the game until the offense could put together a final drive, and a lot is owed to Thomas' performance. He collected two sacks, three run stops, and was the best defender on either team.
2011: Patriots 17, Giants 21; Best Patriots performance: ED Rob Ninkovich; The Patriots offense had another rough performance, and outside of their closing drive of the first half, and the opening drive of the second, they struggled to string together positive drives. Ninkovich was the best player on the team for both his pass rushing (half a sack and multiple pressures) and his run stopping ability.
2014: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24; Best Patriots performance: QB Tom Brady; Yes, Malcolm Butler or Julian Edelman could rightfully claim this distinction, but Brady's fourth quarter output of 13/15, 124 yards, and 2 touchdowns, against the best (albeit injured) defense of the past decade, on the biggest stage, during the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history? Yeah, this was an all time performance.