The New England Patriots have snatched victory out of the beaks, talons, and claws of defeat in recent playoff games because opposing head coaches wilt in the shadow of Bill Belichick.
While throwing the ball wasn’t a bad idea by the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, they should never have thrown it into traffic. While being aggressive wasn’t a bad idea by the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, they should have realized securing a field goal was more important that trying to complete a home run throw. While running the ball with Leonard Fournette wasn’t a bad idea by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2017-18 AFC Championship Game, they should have had a second play at their disposal for first downs.
All three teams were in position to eliminate the Patriots, but they were unable to finish the task. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy explained how to finish off Belichick and company on the biggest stages.
“What everyone thinks you need to do is raise your game in the playoffs, but you don’t,” Dungy said. “The Patriots play their game all the time and you got to be able to play your game for 60 minutes in a pressurized environment and not make mistakes. And when you do that, you have a chance to win. But if you make mistakes and can’t handle the moment, they’re going to play at a high level [and win].”
The Philadelphia Eagles reached the Super Bowl thanks to incredible play by their defense and pass rush, along with strong complementary offense with their running game softening defenses for home run throws.
If the Eagles stick to that plan, perhaps they’ll be able to compete with the Patriots. But the moment they deviate and start incorporating plays that reek of desperation or unnecessary trickery, then the Patriots will pounce and pull away.