Patriots real MVP: Bill Belichick

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff photosNew England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick looks on from the sidelines during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

ATLANTA – There was only one MVP on the field late Sunday night.

Only this one didn’t touch the ball, deck the opposing quarterback, float a pass past a cornerback or rumble like a 6-foot-7 tight end.

This MVP did the best work of his career, and really for the last 365 days.

Bill Belichick.

And everybody knows it.

They have to give the annual Super Bowl MVP Award to a player, and they chose the right one in Julian Edelman, who came up big with 10 receptions and 141 yards.

The high-powered, well-balanced, multi-dimensional Los Angeles Rams looked more like the Buffalo Bills last night.

The Patriots won Super Bowl LIII, 13-3, and Belichick officially ascended to legendary status.

That makes it six Lombardi Trophies as a coach, an all-time record, in 18 seasons. That’s six titles in the modern era, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers, who did it over four decades with three different coaches.

In New England? Only one.

Do you remember where he was on his flight home from Minneapolis the first Monday morning in February last year?

Belichick was dead meat. He had refused to play Malcolm Butler and whether it mattered or not, Belichick was blamed for the worst defensive performance in Super Bowl history in the 41-33 loss.

For the next six months, the Patriots’ coach and general manager was considered a laughingstock. Tom Brady dissed him on social media. So did a bevy of other current and former Patriots.

Then the two players who have defined Part II of the Patriots Dynasty, Brady and Rob Gronkowski, were no-shows during the offseason.

That dinner meeting between Belichick and Bob Kraft, which was caught on some iPhone, was embarrassing.

But then came 2018, with Brady turning 41 in August, no real wide receiver of note and no new players on defense worth talking about.

Yet, over the five months since opening day, the Patriots methodically and, in a rather ugly way, ascended to the top.

And that’s where the coach comes in.

The Patriots were as remarkable as any other Patriots Super Bowl champion since late December.

Mind, there was a Miami Miracle and a bad loss in Pittsburgh, which followed suit from the early part of the season. But Belichick suckered everyone in.

The Patriots were vulnerable.

No. No. And no.

They are never vulnerable with Belichick and Brady. Never.

While people may say Belichick has never won a Super Bowl without Brady, he won one Sunday night with an average Brady.

Of course, Brady came through on one huge series, 4-for-4 and 67 yards, getting the ball to the 2-yard line on the clinching drive.

But this was Belichick’s baby.

The Rams and uber coach Sean McVay – at 33 half Belichick’s age – was out-coached and out-maneuvered. His offense, which he directs, went head to head with Belichick’s defense.

They left Atlanta – the Patriots must love everything about Atlanta – with 260 yards, their lowest amount in two years, and three measly points.

Did Belichick do a better job leading the Giants defense against a much better Bills unit in the 1991 Super Bowl?

Can we put any Patriots season and Super Bowl performance ahead of the 2001 team, and their incredible playoff run against Oakland, Pittsburgh and the St. Louis Rams?

Who knows?

I do know what has happened around this team the last six weeks and especially Sunday night puts the MVP of the Patriots ahead of them all.

And one other thing, with six draft picks in the first three rounds in April, the Patriots might actually be better next year.

Bill Belichick is the greatest. And Sunday night was more proof.

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@derrynews.com.

This Week's Circulars