Patriots hold off Eagles to win Super Bowl XXXIX

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Dynasty? Definitely. The

New England Patriots don't have to proclaim greatness. The NFL record book does

it for them.

Mueller: Laying it on the lines
The game was somewhat in doubt until the end, but it was decided long before the final gun. From the middle of the second quarter on, the Patriots' offensive and defensive lines controlled the play at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. I say this with all due respect to Patriot safety, Rodney Harrison (seven tackles, one sack and two INTs).

I thought they created a new line of scrimmage by getting push into the Eagles' backfield when the Eagles had the ball. And the Patriots established a new line of scrimmage two yards behind the Eagles' defensive line when using a pounding running game with backs Corey Dillon and Kevin Faulk. This was done at the critical part of game when the Eagles actually had some momentum.

Other than the usual stellar performance by Tom Brady, the speed and quickness of WR Deion Branch made the biggest impact of any one offensive player. He played bigger than his size and showed great heart and competitiveness to find soft spots against the zone, separation against man-to-man and to also catch in a crowd when he was covered.

And yes, I'll say it -- three championships in four years make up a dynasty, no matter what the era.

-- Randy Mueller

Check out what Randy had to say during the game in The Show

The Patriots won their third Super Bowl in four years Sunday,

24-21 over the Philadelphia Eagles, and now they are challenging


It was their ninth straight postseason victory, equaling Vince

Lombardi's Green Bay Packers. It was coach Bill Belichick's 10th

playoff victory in 11 games, one better than the great Lombardi.

And it matched Dallas' run of three championships in four years in

the early 1990s.

"We've never really self-proclaimed ourselves anything," said

Tom Brady, who is 9-0 in the playoffs. "If you guys say we're

great, we'll accept the compliment."

This one wasn't overpowering, and at times it was downright

ugly. But not even Belichick seemed to care about that.

"To me this trophy belongs to these players," Belichick said.

"They met all comers this year, a very challenging year. We're

thrilled to win. These players played great all year, their best in

the big games and they deserve it, they really deserve it."

With MVP Deion Branch tying a Super Bowl record for receptions

with 11, Brady efficiently running the offense and Rodney Harrison

sparking a smothering defense, the Patriots (17-2) didn't need a

last-second field goal from Adam Vinatieri this time.

But his kick -- a 22-yarder with 8:40 left -- provided the points

that made the difference.

Most consecutive postseason wins, NFL history



















This time, the Patriots sealed it with a stop.

Philadelphia (15-4) got the ball back at its 4 with 46 seconds

remaining. It was hardly enough time and far too much territory to

cover against such a formidable foe.

Harrison got his second interception with 9 seconds remaining to

end it.

Playing before a sea of mostly green jerseys in the crowd of

78,125, the Patriots ended Philadelphia's chance of heading north

with its first pro sports title since 1983. Indeed, it's been 45

years since the Eagles won the NFL crown. And even though they made

it to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1981 -- after three

straight conference championship flops -- their sparkling season

still ended in disappointment.

"We were too sloppy to win," receiver Terrell Owens said. "It

was great to get back, but we made too many mistakes. We could have

won and that hurts."

Corey Dillon, a newcomer to the championship game, scored the

go-ahead points on a 2-yard run early in the fourth period. And

when Branch wasn't catching passes, the Patriots flaunted their

versatility by again using linebacker Mike Vrabel to find the end


Vrabel has caught TD passes in two straight Super Bowls and has

five TDs in as many career catches, not bad for a linebacker -- or

anyone else.

Brady wasn't as fluid as he was when he won the MVP awards in

the 2002 and 2004 games, but he was 23-for-33 for 236 yards and two


Most consecutive playoff wins by starting QB
PlayerWinsTitles during streak

Bart Starr



Tom Brady



John Elway



Troy Aikman



Joe Montana



Terry Bradshaw



*To start career

"It doesn't matter who gets what," Branch said of taking the

MVP away from his quarterback.

When the offense bogged down or turned over the ball, Harrison

and his mates forced four turnovers, including a goal-line

interception by the veteran safety. The Patriots also had four

sacks, making Donovan McNabb look ordinary, even skittish at times.

And while Owens' return from a seven-week injury layoff was an

individual success -- he had nine catches for 122 yards -- it was not

nearly the star turn that Branch made.

Branch was most instrumental on the opening drive of the second

half, which set the tone for New England's 57th victory in its last

74 games.

While New England handled frequent blitzes, Branch caught four

passes for 71 yards on the series that ended with Vrabel's TD.

"We did a great job of adjusting during the game," Branch

said. "It was physical; a lot of guys were bumped and bruised."

The Eagles responded with a 74-yard drive. McNabb whipped a

10-yard pass over the middle between two defenders to Brian

Westbrook for the TD.

Most career receptions in Super Bowl


Jerry Rice



Andre Reed



Deion Branch



Roger Craig



Thurman Thomas


Still, as winners always do, the Patriots reasserted themselves,

effectively using screen passes against a tiring defense. Even when

Eagles defenders shouted to each other to watch for the screen, New

England made it work, particularly on Kevin Faulk's 14-yarder that

preceded Dillon's 2-yard run to make it 21-14.

Vinatieri hit his chip shot to make it 24-14. The Eagles came

back on Greg Lewis' 30-yard TD reception with 1:48 remaining.

Not that it bothered the Patriots, not that anything seems to

bother the Patriots. Here's a team that's losing offensive

coordinator Charlie Weis to Notre Dame and defensive coordinator

Romeo Crennel to become Cleveland's coach.

"When you're in the middle of it, you're not thinking about

what you're doing," Weis said. "Dynasties are talked about 10

years later."

Sorry, Charlie, the Patriots are the talk of the league now.

The victory gave New England its second team championship since

the fall, though this was hardly as dramatic as the long-suffering

Red Sox winning the World Series. Still, this certifies Boston as

the hub of champions.

Philadelphia's title drought goes on, but Owens certainly did

his best to end it. The All-Pro receiver fulfilled his vow to start

the Super Bowl, defying his doctor and playing with a metal plate

and two screws in his right ankle.

Highest win percentages
without winning Super Bowl



George Allen



Andy Reid



Mike Sherman



Red Miller



Mike Martz



Minimum 50 games; Since 1966

"T.O. did a heck of a job," coach Andy Reid said. "I was

proud of the effort and they battled, but we came up just short --

too many turnovers -- and against such a tough football team you

can't do that."

Replay played a significant role on the first series. McNabb

dropped the ball when he was hit by Willie McGinest and New England

recovered at the Philadelphia 34. But Reid challenged that McNabb's

knee was down when hit seconds before by Tedy Bruschi.

Replay showed McNabb, indeed, was down.

Philly put together the first good drive late in the opening

period. Owens got open on a crossing pattern and gained 30 yards on

third down, with a roughing penalty adding 9 yards, but a 16-yard

sack by Mike Vrabel set back the Eagles.

Then McNabb threw a poor pass that Asante Samuel intercepted in

the end zone, only to have it overturned because of illegal contact

by linebacker Roman Phifer.

No matter. McNabb again threw a duck, which Harrison picked off

at the 3.

But the Eagles got the ball again at the New England 45 after a

punt. Three plays later, another turnover: Randall Gay knocked the

ball loose from L.J. Smith and Samuel recovered at the 38.

Once more, the defense held, and when the Eagles got the ball

back at their 19, they finally finished off a drive.

Todd Pinkston, often overshadowed by Owens, looked like his

illustrious teammate on receptions of 17 and 40 yards. On the

longer one, he soared high for yet another misthrow by McNabb and

took it away from Gay.

On third down from the 6, McNabb hung in the pocket and waited

for Smith to get free in the end zone for the game's first score

with 9:55 left in the half.

It was the first time New England trailed this postseason.

Brady then made a rare mistake, fumbling at the Philly 13.

Darwin Walker recovered New England's first giveaway of the


It didn't lead to anything for the Eagles, and after a 29-yard

punt by Dirk Johnson, the Pats drove 37 yards to tie it at 7. Brady

found Givens behind Lito Sheppard in the right corner of the end

zone for a 4-yard score, and Givens mocked Owens' wing flap after

the touchdown with 1:10 remaining.