I feel like I just watched a spring practice that was pretending to be a title game. It will remain sweet for Philadelphia fans forever, but, outside of that, I don’t think it’s going to be particularly memorable for anyone else outside of that one insanely great TD pass to Nick Foles.
It occurred to me that four teams have won their first (and only) title since 2002; Tampa (2002), New Orleans (2009), Seattle (2013), and Philadelphia (obviously 2017). It also occurs to me we’ve been in a run of generally very exciting and fun Super Bowls; there have been a few less-than-exciting games, such as Indianapolis/Chicago in the rain or Denver dismantling the Panthers due to a combination of great defense, utter lack of coaching adjustments by the Panthers, and Mike Remmers cosplaying as a turnstile. Outside of those, almost all of them have been good . . . except for three of those four first-time wins. Now, Saints-Colts? That was a decent game. Wasn’t really great, and largely very memorable because of a gutsy onside kick and the whole Katrina Redemption aspect, but it wasn’t actively bad. The others?
2002—Jon Gruden had obviously been the coach of the Raiders the prior year, and had created a set of plays that helped take a career journeyman like Rich Gannon and turn him into the league MVP that year. Unfortunately for the Raiders, Gruden became the coach of the Buccaneers, their opponent the next year. Even more unfortunately, Raiders coach Bill Callahan didn’t bother to change any of the play calls. At all. Which, even all these years later, sounds so stupid it hurts to even type it (it’s in the Holy Trinity of Bad Super Bowl coaching, along with Rivera’s failure to adjust his offensive scheme vs. the Broncos and Mike Martz in that first Patriots win). Add to that the fact the Buccaneers were fielding one of the singly best defenses in NFL history (Football Outsiders has stats back to 1986, and still rank the ’02 Bucs as the best passing defense they’ve ever measured), and this game was ugly, brutal, and hard to watch. Except for me.
2013—One play into the game, Seattle was up 2-0, and it went downhill from there. Seattle didn’t even need an offense; Wilson had barely 200 yards passing, and the leading rusher was Percy Harvin with 45 yards. It was a defensive clinic on how to stop a truly great offense.
2017—Philadelphia and New England combine for 1,151 yards. The game featured one defensive play, which essentially sealed the game. I’m sure there’s extra enjoyment for some people out of this one because the Patriots lost and everybody hates the Patriots, but . . . this game sucked. Eagles fans will remember this one as fondly as I do the 2002 game. Everyone else will hope whoever shows up next year figures out how to tackle or at least in-frame with a receiver when they’re catching the ball. There were 42 first downs from passing alone. UGH.
2002, 2013, and 2017 feel like the kind of games only a mother/fan of the teams in question could love. If the Bills, Browns, Bengals, Titans, Jaguars, Chargers, Panthers, Falcons, Lions, or Cardinals even win a Super Bowl, let’s hope they provide us something a bit more memorable than the other first-time winners.
No, there was not a mistake in that list above; if there’s one thing the Football Gods have been making clear for decades now, it’s that the Minnesota Vikings are never going to win a Super Bowl.
So we’re on to the offseason now; I’m going to let this thread run for a while, and then start a pre-draft thread later when we get a bit closer. Because reasons.