Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Patriots have played 21 extra games over the last eight years

Bill Belichick now has six NFL championships, the same number as legendary coaches George Halas and Curly Lambeau.

The accomplishments of the Patriots deserve praise for many reasons. Here’s one that often gets overlooked: They manage the grind of playing into late January and/or early February better than any team ever has.

Physically, mentally, and emotionally, participation deep into the postseason tournament takes a toll on a football team. For eight straight years, the Patriots nevertheless have advanced to the NFL’s final four.

And in the last eight seasons, they’ve played in 21 extra games. That’s 1.3 additional football seasons, spread over eight years.

In five of those seasons, they’ve had to retreat to the valley of 0-0 after losing their final game of the year. Twice, they went from the very top of the mountain back to the bottom, and climbed successfully again.

Through the experience of playing extra games, the Patriots have actually gotten better at winning those extra games, as evidenced by the fact that they’ve been to three straight Super Bowls and four of the last five. No other franchise has been to even two Super Bowls in a row since the 1997-98 Broncos.

Four years ago, the Patriots hadn’t won a Super Bowl in a decade. Now, they win one every other year. And as Tom Brady gets closer and closer to his inevitable retirement, it’s hard to think the broader system Bill Belichick has put in place won’t continue to generate teams that consistently contend, regardless of how many extra games were played the prior season, and whether that campaign ended with the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.