Belichick, Brady help Patriots to record 9th Super Bowl trip
Bill Belichick has done something neither Chuck Noll, Tom Landry nor Bill Walsh ever managed. Same for Tom Brady, besting the likes of Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach and Joe Montana.
Together, Belichick and Brady have put themselves into a record seven Super Bowls. And they made the New England Patriots the NFL's first franchise to play in nine Super Bowls with a 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night in the AFC championship game.
That victory helped the Patriots break from the NFL's pack of royalty, the teams who seemingly take turns making the league's championship games into their personal finish lines.
Now the Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos - all tied with eight Super Bowl appearances apiece - must wait another year before trying to give the Patriots company. For now, the Patriots will be busy packing for Houston and their latest Super Bowl on Feb. 5 against the Atlanta Falcons and a chance at making more history.
Here's a look at the franchises that have played in - and won - the most Super Bowls:
The Patriots had two Super Bowl berths to their credit before Belichick took over, but then he rewrote record books for the team and the league. Belichick and Brady already had the most visits for a coach-quarterback duo before beating the Steelers. Belichick now stands alone as a coach with his seven Super Bowl berths, breaking a tie with Don Shula (six). Belichick and Brady are 4-2 in the Super Bowl, helping New England reach .500 in its eight trips. A win in Houston would tie the Pats with San Francisco and Dallas for second all-time with five wins.
HERE WE GO
The Steelers have the most wins in the big game and are 6-2 in their visits. Noll and Bradshaw made the Steelers the first franchise to win four Super Bowl titles - in the span of six years starting in 1975. Ben Roethlisberger then helped coach Bill Cowher win a Super Bowl ring by beating Seattle in 2006.
Big Ben later teamed up with coach Mike Tomlin to beat Arizona for the Steelers' sixth Super Bowl championship in 2009, and they missed out on the franchise's seventh by losing to Green Bay in 2011.
Thanks to Landry, the Cowboys made a habit of heading to Super Bowls with five trips starting in 1971. Landry and Staubach went together four times, winning titles in 1972 and again in 1978. America's Team didn't get back until new owner Jerry Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson returned the Cowboys to championship status with back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1993 and 1994. After a split, Jones brought in Barry Switzer, and he coached Troy Aikman and the Cowboys back to Super Bowl champs in 1996. Dallas is 5-3 in the big game.
BRONCOS AND ELWAY
Denver's Super Bowl history didn't start with John Elway. Craig Morton gets credit for the Broncos' first Super Bowl visit, when Dallas stifled the Orange Crush in 1978. But Elway took the Broncos back three times in four years starting in 1987 and finally helped Denver win back-to-back titles in 1998 and 1999. When hired as general manager and boss of the Broncos, Elway lured Peyton Manning to Denver getting the Broncos two more Super Bowl berths, including last year's 24-10 win in Super Bowl 50. The Broncos are 3-5 overall in the Super Bowl, and Elway is 3-4 combined as quarterback and GM.
The 49ers have six Super Bowl berths and are 5-1 in the game thanks to Montana winning the first four. Steve Young added a title in his only trip, and Colin Kaepernick took home the franchise's first loss in 2013.
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
The Green Bay Packers, winners of the first two Super Bowls, and the New York Giants have done well in their berths, each getting four Lombardi Trophies in five visits.
Denver also has the NFL mark for most Super Bowls lost. At least the Broncos have three trophies. The Minnesota Vikings were the first NFL team to play in - and lose - four Super Bowls, all within the first 11 years. The Buffalo Bills have the longest skid in this game, losing four straight between 1991 and 1994.
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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker