We all know by now that the Rams got to Super Bowl LIII on the wings of a controversial call – or rather, lack of a call, that went in their favor. This non-call eventually made its way to an overtime win and trip to Atlanta to take on the New England Patriot Dynasty. Ironically, the New England Patriot Dynasty began in Super Bowl XXXVI in a win over the Rams. It was 17 years ago that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady first went to a Super Bowl together and went on to upset the Rams. It was the Patriots who should not been in that Super Bowl – in theory – just like the Rams this season.
In the Divisional round, the Oakland Raiders, fresh off of a victory in the Wild Card round vs the NY Jets, went on the road to New England to take on the Pats. Brady, a young QB at the time, was playing in his very first playoff game. It was the first Divisional Round playoff game at night, and happened to be the very last game at Foxboro Stadium. In the 4th quarter the controversial moment came. The fumble that became an incomplete pass because of “The Tuck Rule”. There is a great segment on NFL Films that can be found below.
If you watch the play, Brady is hit in the act of throwing a pass…or was he pulling the ball back because he knew the hit was coming? The hit comes and if you watch Brady’s reaction on the ground. In my opinion, he looks like a player that knows he just fumbled his team’s chance to go to the AFC Championship. The score at the time was Raiders 13, Patriots 10. 1:51 on the clock.Ball out, the Raiders recover, would take a few knees, and head to Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship.Belechick, Charlie Weis, Brady….distraught.
But then….a booth review…a wacky rule brought to light…and a legend is born. Brady gets the ball back, the Pats tie the game with a FG. Brady goes 8 for 8 in OT and Vinatieri wins the game with a FG.
Should the Pats have gotten to Pittsburgh? They won that game and went on to face the heavily favored (14 point) Rams, The Greatest Show on Turf.
Fast Forward through 7 more trips to the Super Bowl, 5 Lombardi trophies in total with their only Super Bowl losses coming to the NFC East. 2 to the NY Giants, and last year to the Eagles. This is a clear Dynasty. We can certainly look back and wonder what could have or should have been for Gruden and the Raiders. Maybe Gruden wins the Super Bowl and stays in Oakland. Maybe Tampa and Oakland face off the following year as they did, but Gruden is going for back to back championships! Who knows indeed.
Now, the Rams have a chance to turn the tables. They have the young QB, they are the team that should not be there. Could this be the end of one dynasty and the beginning of another? The passing of the torch from one dynasty that perhaps should have never been to the young team that arrived on a flag that was never thrown.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Heck, Gruden is even back in Oakland!