The two-time defending world champion New England Patriots did not win the Super Bowl after the 2005 season, but they still played a part in the eventual champion’s victory.
As former Denver Broncos defensive back Domonique Foxworth pointed out during a recent appearance on Kevin Clark’s This is Football podcast, it was a Bill Belichick-crafted game plan that contributed to his team losing the AFC Championship to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers beat the Broncos 34-17, and went on to win Super Bowl XL two weeks later.
So, how did Belichick help them? As Foxworth explained, he was the only one to figure out a tactic to counter the Broncos’ pass rush by using a motioning slot receiver as a blocker.
The Patriots did not have the personnel to successfully pull this tactic off, and ended up losing 27-13 to the Broncos in the divisional round. One week later, however, the Steelers successfully employed it en route to a blowout victory.
It was not the only reason why Pittsburgh ended up winning the title that season, and far from the most prominent one. In a game that is often decided on marginal differences, however, copying the Patriots’ tactics did help them advance past the Broncos.