Six Points: Modern dynasty

Cris Carter
Yahoo! Sports

Yahoo! Sports' Cris Carter puts six points on the board in the aftermath of the New England Patriots' 41-27 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game.

1. Simply super
We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, but this is the most dominant team that the Patriots have had. There were more questions about this team with the injuries to Ty Law and Richard Seymour. That's why I believe Bill Belichick has never done a better coaching job. And yes, we can call New England a dynasty. Look at what the Patriots have done the last four years and the way they have played in big games. They are as close to a modern-day dynasty as you will ever see in the NFL.

2. Middle men
Good teams in football are like good teams in baseball. You have to look at the middle of the team. On defense, it starts with the two safeties, Eugene Wilson and Rodney Harrison. Then on offense, look at the quarterback and running back, Tom Brady and Corey Dillon. All four of these guys play significant roles. Dillon didn't have a lot of yards against Pittsburgh (73 on 24 carries), but knowing that he's back there scares teams. He makes defenses play certain ways and allows the receivers and Brady to take advantage of their matchups.

3. Great Brady
I love the way Brady throws the ball in bad weather. He has a great arm. I always shied away from giving him credit – I only thought he was a good player – but the more I see him handle pressure situations, the more I realize he is a great player.

4. Rookie mistakes
The one thing that was very important for Ben Roethlisberger was to get off to a fast start. The first of his three interceptions was an ill-advised throw behind the receiver. Then again, the Patriots' defense has a way of making you see things that aren't there. Roethlisberger was in the perfect situation to be the first rookie to lead a team to the Super Bowl. It's going to be a long, long time before we see another rookie put in that position. We saw why experience becomes such a factor in games in late January.

5. Steelers' next step
For the Steelers to get better – and I think they will – they must re-sign Plaxico Burress, who'll be a free agent. The combination of Roethlisberger and Burress would only get better with another year together. They also need to add a threat at tight end and to bring Jerome Bettis back. The platoon system of Duce Staley and Bettis works, and it would take Pittsburgh where it wants to go in 2005.

6. End of an era
I believe this is it for New England. Two weeks from Monday, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will be named the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will be leaving to run Notre Dame's program. Those two will be taking assistant coaches with them. So the Patriots' dynasty finally will be reaching its end. They might win a third Super Bowl title in four years, but the negative side to their success is that their coaching staff will be seriously depleted.

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