“The Dynasty,” a 10-part docuseries about the New England Patriots’ historic run of success, debuted Feb. 16 on Apple TV+. Two episodes are released every Friday, and we’ll dig into each episode with takeaways. Next up: Episode 2.

Episode 1: “Backup Plan”

Episode 2: “THE SNOW BOWL”
The second episode begins with more background on the Patriots’ decision to draft Tom Brady in the 2000 NFL Draft, establishing his status as a complete afterthought but also laying the foundation for the drive that fueled his entire career. The Patriots’ season-changing loss to the Rams is a major plot point, and it all builds to an in-depth look the famous “Snow Bowl” playoff win over the Raiders.

— Brady’s sister, Nancy, makes an early appearance. She hasn’t popped up in media over the years. The same can’t be said for Tom Brady Sr., who has become an increasingly big piece of the Brady saga in recent years.

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— That being said, it’s interesting to hear Brady Sr. talk about the Patriots with such reverence and fond memories upon recalling his son’s draft day.

“He became a Patriot, which was a jubilant time for the family,” Brady Sr. said, fighting back tears.

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We’ll probably hear much more from the old man later in the series, and his tune surely will have changed.

— It’s kind of interesting that of the two quarterbacks from the “Brady Six” — the six QBs taken before Brady in 2000 — the only ones they show are Giovanni Carmazzi and Tee Martin to San Francisco and Pittsburgh, respectively. Imagine how the history of those two blueblood franchises would have been altered with Brady under center.

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— Robert Kraft tells the Brady draft story. Yeah, the one you’ve heard a hundred times already.

— It’s nice to know it’s possible to get exponentially more handsome as you age.

— The Week 10 game against the St. Louis Rams from 2001 plays a big role in Episodes 1 and 2. It serves as a crucial inflection point in the Brady-Drew Bledsoe saga here in the second episode, with Brady struggling in a 24-17 primetime loss to the Rams.

A candid Bledsoe admits what you’d expect someone in his position to admit: “I was watching on the sidelines, and I remember thinking the shine’s off this nickel a little bit, and now maybe I’ve got a chance to get back in there and play.”

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— Belichick’s longtime right-hand man, Ernie Adams, makes his first appearance in the series, not just in war room footage from the 2000 NFL Draft but also in a sitdown interview for the series. He pulls out the flame-thrower for the media, recalling loud-mouthed reporters and pundits calling on the team to reinsert Bledsoe after a Week 10 loss to the Rams.

“The media,” he says, “it’s a group that I call the scribes. It’s just a lot of people who don’t have a clue what they’re talking about, frankly. There are some experts in New England on football, and they all work on the coaching staff of the Patriots. If you’re not in the building, you don’t really know.”

There’s some truth to the general sentiment, but that quote and attitude does offer some insight into how the Belichick clan operates. Former Patriots assistant Mike Lombardi has a similar “you can’t simply know anything about football unless you work here” way about him that was on display at the Super Bowl in his verbal joust with Michael Felger — who just so happened to be one of those “scribes” Adams rails against.

— Speaking of Felger, he made a brief Episode 1 cameo that’s worth bringing back here.

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— At the risk of upsetting Adams with an opinion from afar, there’s some revisionist history going on with Bledsoe.

“You know, Drew, when there was real pressure coming at him, he’d struggle a little bit,” Adams remarks. “He knew he was going to be hit, and it looked like he would just freeze up and wait for the inevitable.”

Former exec Scott Pioli recalls a conversation with Adams in which Adams calls him “wildebeest under attack” in the pocket. Pioli gently admits the beating Bledsoe took over the years played a role in all of that.

This partially predates the Belichick brood, but maybe if Bledsoe wasn’t allowed to get sacked 100 times combined in 2000 and 2001, he would have aged a little better. Ultimately, though, they got the decision right, and history is written by the victors.

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— Pioli, by the way, does an Adams impression that’s worth tuning in to see on its own.

— The part about Brady and Belichick actually working well together is pretty cool stuff. Obviously, 20 years of trying to succeed at the highest level wore each other out and led to the disintegration of their relationship. That spectacular explosion, though, overshadows how well they were able to work together early on.

Belichick agreed: “I loved working with Tom every day, seeing the game through the quarterback’s eyes and what he saw. I think those were things that helped me be a better coach.”

What’s notable, though, and maybe this is just Belichick’s general disposition, but it does seem like it almost pains him to say nice things about Brady, 25 years after the fact. The things he says are nice, but it does seem to lack the genuine appreciation you sense from Brady talking about Belichick.

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“I could not be the player I am today without him,” Brady says.

— Back to 2001: The Patriots obviously go with Brady, even after the Rams loss, because as Belichick says, it’s best for the “T-E-A-M, team.” They don’t lose another game all year, and we get a slick montage of the Patriots doing great football things. It leads into Willie McGinest talking about the progress shown throughout the season, not just on the field but off.

“When Tom went against us in practice, we’re talking (s—) and we’re going at him because we gotta make sure you feel that pressure (you’d feel in the game),” McGinest said. “When it came to getting under a player’s skin, Ty (Law), (Mike) Vrabel, they had no rules. Whatever it was, there was nothing off the table for Mike Vrabel. Sometimes, I’d look at him and be, like, ‘Vrabes, I think you went too (expletive) far.’ “

— Jacked Adam Vinatieri makes his first appearance in Episode 2. There’s something comically ironic about a retired kicker having Popeye arms.

— The main event of Episode 2, as you’d expect, is the divisional-round showdown with the Oakland Raiders. It snowed that night in Foxboro, Mass. A lot.

“Looking in hindsight, of course, it’s the only snow we got all winter — that evening when we needed it,” Adams said. “It was like the weather guys just dialed it up just for us right over the field.”

Adams’ recollection is pretty spot-on. Boston got 15 inches of snow that winter (8 inches coming in January), one of the lowest totals ever, dating back to 1890.

— Adams and then McGinest talk about how much the Patriots loved that it snowed, thinking it gave them a major advantage against a California team like the Raiders. But it’s easy to forget the Pats were 3-point favorites, and it’s not like the Raiders wilted in this game, either. In fact, they should have won.

— To the same point, a big part of the “Snow Game” story told here centers around just how bad the Patriots’ offense was that night. The Patriots had just three points midway through the fourth quarter, which is when Brady led the first of what would be many clutch touchdown drives in his storied career.

— And then, the tuck rule. It’s a story that has been told thousands of times, so there’s really no need to relitigate, but we did get these great quotes from some of those involved.

Brady: “I was so pissed. I ran off the field and thought, ‘(Expletive), that’s it. That’s the season.’ “

Pioli: “This game of football, it’s all about control, control, control. Control your own destiny. Every once in a while, God does tell you, ‘you ain’t in control.’ “

— And then there was this from Brady on the decision to overturn the fumble and keep the Patriots’ season alive.

“I mean, it felt like a fumble to me. It looked like a fumble to everyone else, except that’s not the way the rule is written. So, we didn’t write the f—–‘ rule!”

— When it came to Vinatieri’s game-tying field goal, the kicker gave some pretty interesting, honest insight into what he was thinking as he ran onto the field to drive and extend the game in a blizzard.

“You know, 45-yarder in 6 inches of snow and a crazy blizzard like that was super, super low-percentage kick,” he admitted. “We didn’t really have any time to clear the field. I kind of had to give it, like, one little sweep with my foot and it was like ‘Here goes nothing.’ “

— The rest, of course, is history. Early-series MVP Ty Law comes on screen and gives another must-see highlight.

“Thank God for Adam Vinatieri. Whoo! Hey, man, they should bronze his damn foot, for real” Law said. “Put Adam Vinatieri’s foot on top of your damn car like it’s a Rolls Royce.”

You know, like this:

— It became pretty clear after that game that the Patriots might have something special brewing.

“There’s a part of all us thinking, man, there’s some things happening here that are destiny-like,” Tedy Bruschi admits at the end of the episode. “And, I felt this before, but now it’s for sure. It’s, like, ‘Oh my gosh. Maybe we were meant to do this.’ “

“F– off, Brady!”
— Mike Vrabel in footage from a Patriots practice ahead of Super Bowl XLII

“I said, ‘Tom will be just fine, trust me.’ “
–Vrabel’s first appearance in the series is a quick one, but he drops in right after McGinest to defend his actions toward the team’s young quarterback.

Scott Pioli, for no other reason than the Ernie Adams impression

Enjoyable, but not quite as fascinating as the series opener. It would have been great to hear from the Raiders — Jon Gruden, perhaps? The early-life Brady stuff is also a little tired, but it helps tell the story, so it is what it is.

Screenshots used with permission via AppleTV+

Featured image via The Dynasty/Apple TV+