Before the Patriots embarked to Atlanta last Sunday afternoon, Tom Brady led the 35,000 fans crowding the Gillette Stadium field in a cheer, one with a surprising message.
“We’ll still here!” they cried repeatedly, reminding the sports media-industrial complex, forgetful fans and anyone who would listen that reports of the Patriots dynasty’s death had been greatly exaggerated.
On Sunday evening, following a 13-3 victory over the lifeless Rams at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the refrain returned, this time with added meaning, Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com reports.
“It’s sweet. It’s sweet, Jim,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick told CBS’ Jim Nantz on the podium. “Everybody counted us out from the beginning the season, mid-season, but we’re still here.”
The Patriots had bought what they were selling, and it worked.
“It’s satisfying. Just the way we grinded all year,” tight end Rob Gronkowski offered after the victory on NFL Network. “It wasn’t beautiful. Our season was up. Our season was down. Our season was up, then it was down. Then we were eliminated; nobody believed in us. No one thought we were ever gonna do it.”
“We stuck together, that was the biggest achievement I’ve ever been apart of. Throughout the whole season, just the way we stuck together,” Gronk explained. “Defense sometimes wasn’t playing great, offense sometimes wasn’t playing great, special teams sometimes wasn’t playing great. But we all knew if we stuck together, found our identity; we could pull it off and that’s what we did. We stuck together as a family in the down times and we pulled it off as a team — it was unbelievable.”