Why Slow Start Sunday In Super Bowl LI Shouldn’t Scare Patriots Fans


February 2, 2017

HOUSTON — The New England Patriots have played in six Super Bowls since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick joined the franchise in 2000, and they have won four of them.

It might surprise you, though, to learn that New England has not scored a single first-quarter point in a Super Bowl since 1997.

The Patriots have been shut out in the opening frame in every Super Bowl during the Brady/Belichick era, and their opponents have endured similar offensive struggles, managing just 15 total points over 90 minutes of game action.

Here were the scores entering the second quarter in each of the Patriots’ previous six Super Bowls:

Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots 0, Seahawks 0
Super Bowl XLVI: Giants 9, Patriots 0
Super Bowl XLII: Giants 3, Patriots 0
Super Bowl XXXIX: Patriots 0, Eagles 0
Super Bowl XXXVIII: Patriots 0, Panthers 0
Super Bowl XXXVI: Rams 3, Patriots 0

Belichick was asked about these slow starts Wednesday. He said his team can ill afford to have another one against its Super Bowl LI opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, who led the NFL in scoring during the regular season and racked up 80 points over two playoffs games.

“One thing about this game is you are playing against a great team,” the Patriots head coach said. “The six teams we played against (in previous Super Bowls) were great teams, and the Falcons are a great team. They have done a great job, like they did last week against the (Green Bay) Packers (in the NFC Championship Game), shutting them out and getting a couple turnovers, and they are up 24-0 at the half. For us to move the ball and score points, we are going to have to execute well and perform well offensively. …

“The reason we didn?t score points in those games was because we didn?t deserve to — we weren?t good enough to. We have to find a way to do better than that. Certainly, we don?t want to play this game from 24-0 or 24-3 or something like that like where Green Bay ended up last week. We have to avoid that, or it will be a long night if we don?t.?

These early-game struggles aren’t exclusive to the Patriots. At least one team has been shut out in the first quarter in 11 of the last 13 Super Bowls, and one team has been held to a field goal or less in 17 of the last 18.

Thumbnail photo via Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports Images

Markelle Fultz
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