It’s not true that Bill Belichick was coaching when the Los Angeles Chargers played their first postseason game in the 1960 American Football League championship game against the Houston Oilers.
It only seems that way.
The New England Patriots head coach has the best postseason record in NFL history at 28-11, with nine AFC championships and a record five Super Bowl victories since 2000.
That includes AFC playoff wins at San Diego in the Divisional Round in 2006, and the 2007 AFC Championship Game at Foxborough a year later.
Along the way, Belichick has conducted interviews as though he’s being charged by the word.
That’s what made Monday’s media teleconference call to Costa Mesa so interesting.
The coach of few words and fewer playoff losses went on and on in effusive praise of the Chargers his Patriots will face Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
If Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is 0-7 lifetime vs. Patriots legend Tom Brady, it was news to Belichick.
“Rivers is very good at utilizing all of his receivers, whether they’re backs, tight ends or wide receivers,” Belichick said. “They’re all very good at making yards after the catch. They’ve all been explosive at one time or another this season.”
On Monday, the Chargers gave Belichick something else to think about when they activated tight end Hunter Henry for the first time since he injured himself in offseason workouts last May.
“When he’s healthy he’s one of the best two-way tight ends in the league, in terms of blocking and catching the ball down the field,” said the New England coach. “It will be another one-on-one matchup we have to win.”
Belichick, 66, has long since established himself as the modern-day Lombardi, a coach whose intimidation factor is capable of influencing the outcome of a playoff game.
This week, it’s Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley who’s drawn all the fawning attention, after his seven defensive back scheme stopped the Baltimore Ravens’ unstoppable running game in its tracks Sunday.
“Coach Bradley founded the Seattle system,” Belichick said, alluding to the defensive scheme the Patriots overcame to win Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona in 2015. “He has some very versatile DBs who can also play linebacker closer to the line of scrimmage to stop the run, as they did Sunday in Baltimore.
“(Rookie safety) Derwin James is as good as we’ve seen this year. He can cover, but he can also rush the passer.”
Belichick acknowledged he has two major headaches to deal with in pass rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa.
Bradley flexed his two top pass rushers along the line of scrimmage on a day when the Chargers rang up seven sacks.
“It’s not so much about what they can do, but knowing where they are at all times,” Belichick said. “We have to have them accounted for.”
The Patriots’ head coach listed so many concerns, it belied the fact that his team has not lost a home playoff game since the 2012 AFC Championship Game against Baltimore.
The last eight times the Pats have advanced to the Super Bowl, they enjoyed a bye week of additional preparation as they do this year.
“He has probably the greatest quarterback ever to play the position,” pointed out Chargers coach Anthony Lynn. “Plus, I spent eight years in the same (AFC East) Division as the Patriots.
“I never saw the same game plan twice from Coach Belichick.”