The New England Patriots are headed back to the Super Bowl for the ninth time in franchise history and the seventh time since 2001.
With Sunday night’s 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots set an NFL record for all-time Super Bowl berths, breaking the previous record of eight shared by the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos and Steelers.
“I mean, the numbers are nice and all that, but it’s really about this team and this year and this group of guys,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said after the game. “I’m really happy for our coaching staff, for our players, all of the guys, the practice-squad players who gave us such a great look this week. Again, contributions from all three units. It was just a good team victory. It’s a good team.”
As New England now turns its crosshairs toward the Atlanta Falcons, whom they will meet Feb. 5 in Houston in Super Bowl LI, let’s take a moment to recognize the unparalleled run of success this franchise has enjoyed during the Belichick-Tom Brady era. (Hat tip to the Patriots’ media relations department for providing many of the following statistics.)
— The Patriots have played in more Super Bowls in the last 15 years than all but three NFL teams (the Cowboys, Broncos and Steelers) have played in in the history of their franchises.
— This Super Bowl will be the Patriots’ eighth since owner Robert Kraft took control of the team in 1994. No other franchise has played in more than four during that span. Kraft also has more Super Bowl appearances than any other owner in the Super Bowl era, breaking a tie with Denver’s Pat Bowlen (seven).
— New England is seeking its fifth Super Bowl title, which would tie Dallas and the San Francisco 49ers for second all time. The Steelers own the record with six Lombardi Trophies.
— The Patriots would be the first team in NFL history to win five Super Bowls with the same owner, head coach (Belichick) and quarterback (Brady).
— Belichick’s seven conference championships are the most by any head coach in the Super Bowl era, breaking a tie with Don Shula. If the Patriots take care of business in Houston, he would become the first bench boss to win five Super Bowl titles with the same team.
— Brady will play in his seventh Super Bowl, which will set a new NFL record. He currently is tied with former Broncos and Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Mike Lodish for the most Super Bowl appearances by a player with six.
— A win over the Falcons would give Brady five Super Bowl victories, which would tie Hall of Fame defensive end Charles Haley for first all time.
— The win over the Steelers was Brady’s 24th career postseason victory. As Peter King of The MMQB pointed out Sunday night, that’s more wins than 25 NFL teams have recorded in the postseason.
Thumbnail photo via James Lang/USA TODAY Sports Images