By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com
One year ago in Minneapolis, Bill Belichick experienced his lowest moment as head coach of the New England Patriots.
Super Bowl LII was a disaster for The Hoodie. His decision to bench Malcolm Butler may never be understood, and his inability to scheme up a plan to stop backup quarterback Nick Foles and the Eagles can never truly be explained.
It feels like Belichick cost the Patriots a Super Bowl that night. It was the biggest blemish on his otherwise spectacular career.
But Belichick did everything within his power to erase that stain last night. He is the primary reason why the Patriots are once again kings of the NFL.
Super Bowl LIII was redemption for The Hooded One.
It was atonement.
It was a true masterpiece.
When the confetti is cleared, the Patriots 13-3 victory over the Rams will go down as one of the finest moments of Belichick’s storied career. That is no small feat for a man with some of the greatest accomplishments in football history.
Belichick stopped the K-Gun in the Super Bowl in 1990. He orchestrated the Silence of the Rams in 2001. Super Bowl LIII is now on par with those legendary coaching jobs.
If Super Bowl XXV was his Starry Night and Super Bowl XXXVI was his Mona Lisa, then Super Bowl LIII is his Girl With A Pearl Earing.
It was one of the best defensive performances in the Super Bowl history, and it was all conjured up by the greatest coach the NFL has ever seen.
The Patriots held the second-ranked offense in the NFL to three measly points. Jared Goff never stood a chance. Can you ever remember a quarterback looking that bad in a Super Bowl?
Belichick made him look that way. Add Goff to his long list of victims.
Every play the Patriots drew up seemed to work. They disguised their coverages beautifully. They feigned blitzes all night long and made Goff see ghosts. It felt as if they were waiting for the perfect moment to finally dial up an out-out pressure package.
That moment came with 4:17 to play. Belichick and Brian Flores called the play that the Patriots somehow couldn’t bring themselves to unleash last year: they brought the heat, and Goff couldn’t handle it.
The master wins again, and Sean McVay, the boy wonder, is left to wonder what his first Super Bowl experience could have been like had the greatest coach of them all not been standing on the other sideline.
“I’m pretty numb right now…I got out-coached,” McVay said after the game.
This run to a title should go down as one of Belichick’s greatest accomplishments. He overcame a great deal of internal strife and claimed another Lombardi.
The tension behind the scenes in Foxboro was real. Bill wanted to keep Jimmy Garoppolo, which likely means he wanted to move on from Tom Brady. He tried to trade Rob Gronkowski. He let Danny Amendola walk. He benched his starting corner in the Super Bowl for no apparent reason and watched his team give up 41 points without making a single change.
The Patriots could have tuned Belichick out the way the Seahawks lost their trust in Pete Carroll after his calamitous mismanagement on the goal line in Super Bowl XLIX, but they didn’t. The Hoodie brought them back from the brink and coached them to a Super Bowl in a year where many thought they weren’t capable of it. He devised a gameplan for the ages and watched his team execute it to perfection on the biggest stage in American sports.
He was masterful Sunday night.
He was vintage Bill Belichick, and the Patriots are Super Bowl champions again in large part because of him.
What a difference a year makes.
You can hear Matt McCarthy on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.