By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Sunday night’s wild win over the Kansas City Chiefs was pretty important in the short term to the 2018 Patriots, but the victory also had some larger-picture implications.
In beating the Chiefs 43-40 at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots earned their 218th regular-season win since the year 2000. If that 218 number seems arbitrary, here’s why it’s significant: The Patriots franchise now has the most wins in consecutive decades in NFL history, breaking the mark set by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s and 1990s.
You might note that it’s currently only six weeks into the 2018 season, which means the Patriots still have 26 games remaining in this 2010s decade to add to their total. That’s what happens when a team averages 12 wins per year for 18 years.
Among fellow NFL competition, the Patriots stand head and shoulders above the Steelers (191), the Colts (181), the Packers (181), the Eagles (175) and the Broncos (171).
Winning the most games in consecutive decades may not be considered a well-known feat. There likely won’t be any plaques distributed to owner Robert Kraft, and head coach Bill Belichick likely won’t be making any speeches on the matter. Tom Brady is probably more concerned with preparing for the Chicago Bears.
But the fact that the Patriots were able to set this mark with 26 games left to play shows just how unparalleled this sustained run of success has been since the team brought Belichick and Brady aboard. (It must be noted that the 49ers played just nine games in the strike-shortened 1982 season, thus reducing their total number of games in the time span by seven.)
The continuity at both head coach and quarterback has also been rather incredible. The 49ers, by contrast, had three different head coaches (Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Steve Mariucci) and had 13 different starting quarterbacks, from Steve Deberg through Jeff Garcia. (With, of course, Joe Montana and Steve Young doing the bulk of the winning.)
The Patriots, of course, have had one head coach since 2000, while Tom Brady has started 257 out of 294 regular-season games since 2000. Drew Bledsoe started 18 games in that time, Matt Cassel started 15, while Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett started two games apiece.
Largely, the Patriots’ success over the past 18-plus years has been tied to the work of Belichick and Brady.
While the definition of “dynasty” can change from person to person, and while some people may consider the more recent (2014, 2016) Super Bowl wins part of a separate era from the previous championships (2001, 2003, 2004), it cannot ever be denied that this current run of consistent and persistent winning will be remembered as the greatest sustained run by any franchise in football history.