Boston sports fans have been blessed by success in the early part of the 21st century.
Ever since the New England Patriots’ victory in Super Bowl XXXVI shocked the world, Boston professional sports teams have enjoyed a whopping 10 victory parades. And there could’ve been several more if not for the likes of David Tyree, Mario Manningham and Kobe Bryant.
The Patriots have been at the centerpiece of that standard of excellence, with five Super Bowl titles, and nary a Patriots’ fan expected the Kansas City Chiefs to spoil Thursday’s banner-dropping celebration with a 42-27 whooping.
I’ll admit, I was expecting the Patriots to win by a couple of touchdowns. I wasn’t expecting Matt Patricia’s defense to make Alex Smith, typically a dink and dunk quarterback, look like Brett Favre.
Of course, social media was full of overreaction. It happens in rabid fan bases. But in three of the Patriots’ Super Bowl winning seasons, the team opened the season with a loss.
Occasional social media overreaction also tells me two other things: That yes, we’ve been blessed with success and high expectations in Foxboro under the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick-Robert Kraft regime, but fans seem to forget where this franchise was when “90’s kids” like myself were growing up.
Some tend to forget that there was once a time where purely making the playoffs was cause for celebration in Foxboro. Some tend to forget that quarterbacks named Hugh Millen once ran the offense. Some tend to forget that the Patriots went a combined 9-39 over the 1990-92 seasons. Two of those were coached by the late Dick MacPhereson, an Old Town native who unfortunately wasn’t blessed with much talent during his time in Foxboro.
The franchise also appeared destined to move to St. Louis before Kraft bought it prior to the 1993 season.
That season brought a winner of a coach in Bill Parcells, for whom Belichick crafted a mastermind of a gameplan in Super Bowl XXV when the pair were with the New York Giants, and a young gunslinger named Drew Bledsoe.
Those Patriots went 5-11, but that season saved NFL football in New England. Those Patriots finished the season with four straight wins, knocking AFC East rival Miami out of the playoffs in the season’s final week, and made the playoffs the following year. Ironically, it was Belichick’s Cleveland Browns that sent Parcells’ Patriots home in January 1995.
Two years later, Parcells and Bledsoe had the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI, and save for a couple Brett Favre bombs and an ill-advised decision by a rookie kicker named Adam Vinatieri to kick off to Desmond Howard, the Pats could’ve easily beaten the Green Bay Packers that night. Other first-and-second year players on that team included Lawyer Milloy, Ty Law and Tedy Bruschi.
Patriots fans tend to forget that the Parcells-Bledsoe-Kraft era paved the way for Belichick and Brady. Ever since Kraft bought the team, the Patriots have finished under .500 three times.
The loss to Kansas City was a tough pill to swallow and the Patriots have some work to do, especially on defense, but the defense has a lot of new faces, and typically gels as the season goes along.
Pats Nation, take a deep breath, relax and remember that you want to be playing your best football in December and January, not September. Such is the Patriot Way, and it’s why five banners hang above Gillette Stadium.
On to New Orleans.