Only one team has passed for more yards than the New England Patriots over the previous eight seasons.
No team has made the playoffs more often.
Yet for all the regular-season success and gaudy passing numbers, this is the eighth consecutive season in which the Patriots will have failed to win the Super Bowl.
This observation is not made to belittle the Patriots or their accomplishments. And it’s not put here as some sort of snide aside about the taint that Gisele Bundchen seems to have affixed Tom Brady.
It’s placed here to point out that in spite of the explosion of passing totals in the regular season – a trend that goes well beyond Brady’s Patriots – the formula for postseason success may not have changed as much as you might think.
|Since 2005||Playoff berths||Titles||Playoff record|
Baltimore ranked No. 15 in passing yards this season, San Francisco was 23rd.
In a way, this is good news for the Seattle Seahawks, whose coach Pete Carroll has made no secret of his desire to build his offense off the ground game.
That M.O. stands in stark contrast to the league-wide trend to air it out. Three different quarterback threw for more than 5,000 yards a year ago and 10 reached 4,000 yards. New Orleans’ Drew Brees was the only player to throw for more than 5,000 yards this season, but there were 11 quarterbacks to reach 4,000.
Those statistics raised the possibility that Carroll’s ground-bound emphasis was outdated, and he would have Seattle taking a .22 caliber approach to offense in what had become a .357 Magnum world.
Not so fast, though.
Turns out playing defense still counts for something in this league, and while Atlanta and New England had two of the more potent offenses in the league during the regular season, neither one managed a point in the second half.
That’s not to say the league’s potent passing attacks can’t win a Super Bowl. Indianapolis did it after the 2006 season, the Saints after 2009 followed by the Packers a season later.
But the fact that New England has reached the playoffs in seven of the past eight seasons and reached the Super Bowl twice yet hasn’t won a title in that time speaks to the difficulty of stringing together at least three consecutive postseason victories with a pass-first offense.