JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The “D” word has been mentioned early and often by the media throng the last two weeks. But the Patriots, ever mindful of the task at hand, refused to comment on talk of themselves as a dynasty. There was a Super Bowl to win and no one on the club was going to make the mistake of looking past a worthy opponent -- the Philadelphia Eagles.
But after last night’s 24-21 victory at Alltel Stadium, linebacker Tedy Bruschi said his team deserved the lofty title.
”It establishes our dominance to tell you the truth, that’s what it does,” said Bruschi. “You want to talk about any other team that’s done this before [winning three titles in four years], you can talk about the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s. They were considered a dynasty. So, you want to put us in that company now? We’ve done something to earn the right to be put in that company and we all feel great that we can be put in that company.
”It’s funny, everybody says three out of four so much you forget we just won back to back. That’s something a lot of people haven’t done. It’s a great honor. What we just accomplished, there is only one other team in history that’s accomplished it and that’s Dallas in the 1990s. I feel honored to be in that company because I feel we’re that good.”
Bruschi said it was tough to rank the three Super Bowl wins, but gave the edge to this one because it’s so hard to compete in the NFL at such a high level for so long.
”Perhaps this is more special because this shows everyone what kind of team we are and what kind of players we have to achieve this type of dominance over the last four years,” he said. “It’s sort of an exclamation point, saying, `Hey, it wasn’t an upset vs. the Rams.’ The one vs. Carolina was another one, but this is saying, `Here we are, we’re good players,’ and I think we’re established to the point where people can say, `We’ve got to start looking at these guys as one of the better teams in history.’ “
The Eagles led by a touchdown midway through the second quarter but the Patriots weren’t rattled. Instead, they just regrouped.
”Being down 7-0 in the Super Bowl, sometimes you can get tight,” said Bruschi. “Sometimes, it can be, `I don’t know, what do we do now?’ But we’ve been in big games and we’re talking on the sidelines, saying, `We’re OK. Let’s fix what we’ve got to fix and let the offense do what they do.’ If they score, great. If they don’t, then you go out there and [shut the Eagles down] and get [the offense] back on the field.”
New England’s defense did a tremendous job putting pressure on quarterback Donovan McNabb.
”As good a game as he played, there were some throws that we thought were underthrown or overthrown but that’s good coverage,” said Bruschi. “We played a lot of man-to-man.”
After the Patriots went up, 24-14, with 8:40 left in the fourth quarter, the Eagles answered. They drove to the Patriots’ 36, but McNabb’s pass, intended for L.J. Smith, was picked off by Bruschi, killing the drive. Bruschi said it came as a result of switching to zone coverage after playing mostly man-to-man.
”I opened up to the right I believe and I swung back left and saw the ball and made a read on the ball and it was just thrown at a place where I could dive and go get it,” said Bruschi.
As loquacious as Bruschi is, he said it was hard to convey just how thrilled he was.
”It feels incredibly different,” he said. “It feels 10 times better. You just don’t take world championships for granted. I’m just so thankful and so grateful. Every one is different. Every one is its own special game and this one was a special game.”
Another of the many forces for New England was defensive end Richard Seymour, who was playing his first contest since suffering a left leg injury Dec. 26 against the Jets. Seymour was credited with one sack and two tackles.
”I just wanted to go out there and have some confidence in it and I was able to gain some confidence,” said Seymour. “I had a couple of good days of practice so I wanted to go out there and give it a shot. I was able to go out there and it felt pretty good.”
As good as he felt personally, he said it was a hard-fought win for the whole team.
”We never could feel comfortable in the football game,” he said. “We were never able to put the game away. We had to play to the end.”