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Patriots are notorious slow starters when it comes to Super Bowls, but will this year be any different?

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New England is starting notoriously slowly into its Super Bowls.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have played in a lot of Super Bowls this century, eight so far to be exact. But as they prepare for their upcoming title game appearance another number stands out: three. That’s the combined total of points the team has scored in first quarters during Super Bowls played in the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era — a Stephen Gostkowski field goal last year is all the Patriots could muster so far.

With the game against the Los Angeles Rams coming up in just two days, the question is whether or not this year will be any different. When looking at it from a historical perspective, the answer has to be “no” as the Patriots have always started slowly into Super Bowls. In years past it almost appeared as if they tried to get a feel for the overall flow of the game first before becoming more aggressive in their play calling.

Of course, head coach Bill Belichick would be the first to point out that the team is trying to score on every possession and that plays are always chosen with the intention to be successful in any given situation. However, it can still not be denied that this has — for one reason or another — not worked for New England over its past eight appearances on pro football’s biggest stage. So why should this year be any different?

Take the first quarter performance by both New England and L.A. over the course of the season to find one reason for optimism: the AFC champions have been slightly better than their NFC counterpart so far this year when it came to starting quickly. On the year, the Patriots have a +1.0 scoring differential in the first 15 minutes as they average 6.1 points per game, giving up 5.1. The Rams, for comparison are slightly worse at +0.6 with 6.4 points scored but also 5.8 given up.

The bigger reason why the team might start quicker into the game, however, is the most recent performance and not any season-long trends. While the Rams got outscored 3-20 in first quarters during their two playoff games, the Patriots were starting at breakneck speed. New England scored touchdowns on its opening possessions in the divisional round and the conference championship game and now enters the Super Bowl with a combined score of 21-7 through its two first quarters.

And with New England facing another high-powered offense, getting to a quick start will likely be a key to the game. The Patriots, as defensive tackle Adam Butler told Pats Pulpit earlier this week, will focus on stopping the run game — and nothing makes this task easier than the scoreboard: if the Rams are under pressure to keep up with the Patriots from the get-go and are potentially given limited time due to their opponents’ ability and willingness to run the football, they will likely turn to the passing gamer quicker than they would prefer.

Just look at the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The Patriots jumped to a 14-0 halftime lead playing a clock-control game that kept quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the team’s talented offense on the sidelines. In the second half, the Chiefs almost completely abandoned their ground game to put themselves in a position to get back into the game. The plan worked — at least until overtime — but it is not one every team can pull off.

After all, the Chiefs fielded possibly the NFL’s best offense this season and a group of players capable of quickly turning its fortunes around. While the Rams are certainly not too far behind in this regard and when it comes to offensive talent and an ability to strike quickly against opposing defenses, their quarterback is not the same big play threat as the likely league MVP Mahomes.

Jared Goff is good, no doubt about it, but between his inconsistent second half of the season and slow starts the last two weeks it would be unfair to compare him to Mahomes. That being said, Goff did do something last week the Chiefs’ quarterback couldn’t: he brought his team back from a 13-0 first quarter deficit to tie and ultimately beat the NFC’s top-seeded New Orleans Saints in the conference title game.

So even if the Patriots continue their trend of starting fast into games — a reason why it would not at all be surprising if they elected to receive the football in case they win the coin toss—, they need to find a way to keep their foot on the gas if they indeed jump to an early lead. New England struggled to do that against the Los Angeles Chargers and especially against the Chiefs.

But as the old saying goes, third time might just be the charm for the team. All while ninth time might be the charm when it comes to finally adding to the three-point total in first quarters of Super Bowls.