MX23RW : Monday, February 4 16:05:32
Feb 3, 2019 at 11.30pm UK at ​Mercedes-Benz Stadium
New England Patriots
13-3
Los Angeles Rams
FT
0
Q1
0
3
Q2
0
0
Q3
3
Michel (7:00)
10
Q4
0

Rams coach Sean McVay full of admiration for Patriots supremo Bill Belichick

Rams coach Sean McVay full of admiration for Patriots supremo Bill Belichick
© Reuters
McVay became the youngest head coach in NFL history two years ago but his lack of experience has not been a hindrance.

Sean McVay has transformed the fortunes of the Los Angeles Rams but he thinks he is "not even close to being mentioned in the same breath" as New England Patriots supremo Bill Belichick.

A few days shy of his 31st birthday when he was appointed two years ago, McVay became the youngest head coach in NFL history but his lack of experience has not been a hindrance.

The Rams have reached the play-offs in both seasons he has been in command, quite the turnaround from their first year back in Los Angeles after relocating from St Louis in 2016, when they won just four times.

This year has been especially memorable and victories over the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints carried the Rams to the NFC Championship and a first Super Bowl appearance since 2001.

Their dreams on that day were ended by the Patriots, who captured the first of five Super Bowls under the axis of Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

The dynasty the Patriots have gone on to achieve is why McVay is reluctant to compare himself with Belichick, widely regarded as one of the finest coaches in any sport.

Speaking at his final press conference ahead of Sunday's showdown between the two teams in Atlanta, McVay said: "I'm certainly not even close to being mentioned in the same breath as coach Belichick with what he's done.

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay played down comparisons with New England Patriots counterpart Bill Belichick (David J. Phillip/AP)
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay (right) played down comparisons with New England Patriots counterpart Bill Belichick (David J. Phillip/AP)

"The wealth of knowledge and experience that he's pulling from is incredible. He's got an ownership and a mastery on offence, defence and special teams.

"You talk about somebody that understands the nuances of the game, the tactical approaches and how to put together a gameplan that is conducive for his players' skillsets.

"But it's also about playing with all three phases working in unison, not necessarily one separate from the other. He's just done such a great job.

"Those players believe in him. I think he's invested in building a real authentic rapport and caring about the guys."

  • 2001: W 20-17 v St Louis Rams
  • 2003: W 32-29 v Carolina Panthers
  • 2004: W 24-21 v Philadelphia Eagles
  • 2007: L 17-14 v New York Giants
  • 2011: L 21-17 v New York Giants
  • 2014: W 28-24 v Seattle Seahawks
  • 2016: W 34-28 v Atlanta Falcons
  • 2017: L 41-33 v Philadelphia Eagles

The Patriots, set to contest their fourth Super Bowl in the last five years, were beaten by the Philadelphia Eagles in the showpiece 12 months ago.

But it was their stirring fightback two years ago – when they overturned a 28-3 deficit to triumph 34-28 against the Atlanta Falcons – that lingers in the memory of McVay.

He added: "To play against the Patriots is a great challenge but they're one of these teams, they're consistently showing up.

"You look at the amount of appearances they've had, the consistency at which they've operated, it's not a surprise.

PA Graphic
(PA Graphic)

"One of the things that you consistently hear is 'good teams don't beat themselves' and they're a great team because they never beat themselves.

"They handle situations. Their big-time players make plays at the most opportune moments and they handle adversity extremely well.

"You look back at the Super Bowl a couple of years ago, to continue to compete when you're down 28-3 and find a way to get it done, there's an internal belief that that team had.

"You could feel it just watching it on TV and I think that consistent belief and expectation that 'we're going to find a way' is a really powerful thing."


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Tom Brady celebrates after the Patriots reach the Super Bowl on January 20, 2019
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