Super Bowl LII is between the underdog Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL’s greatest dynasty, the New England Patriots. But there’s a history between two characters in the game that dates back nearly two decades.
In Bill Belichick’s first season with the Patriots, he lost to his old team, the Cleveland Browns (who went 3-13 that season), by a score of 19-11. That Browns team was quarterbacked by none other than current Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. Belichick has few bad losses in his coaching career, but that was certainly one of them.
Belichick hasn’t played the Eagles since Pederson took over in 2016, but that will change on Sunday when they face off in Minneapolis. It’ll be his first chance at revenge for a game early in his tenure as Patriots head coach.
Pederson’s Browns outlasted Drew Bledsoe’s Patriots.
Things were quite different in the NFL in the year 2000. The Browns were in just their second season back in the NFL after a three-year hiatus. The original Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 and became the team that we now know as the Ravens.
Oh, and Tom Brady hadn’t stolen Drew Bledsoe’s job yet.
Both teams went into the game with poor records — the Browns were 2-8, and the Patriots were 2-7. Pederson was 32 years old that season, and probably not aware that he was going to be the third name on the long list of quarterbacks on the Browns’ jersey of sadness (only Tim Couch and Spergon Wynn were earlier on the list).
But on this particular Sunday in November of 2000, Pederson did something that many Browns quarterbacks — including himself — haven’t done a lot of over the years: win a game.
Pederson completed 20 of his 27 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. He also completed passes to seven different receivers, and got 84 yards of help on the ground from running back Travis Prentice, who played in just 30 games in the NFL.
The most eyebrow-raising thing from that game? The Patriots had four turnovers. Considering how disciplined Belichick’s teams are today, that seems unfathomable — he won’t even let players reach over the goal line to try and score a touchdown.
The Super Bowl is their first rematch since.
Pederson never started another game against a Belichick team, nor has he gone up against him as a head coach.
But there are other instances where Pederson and Belichick crossed paths:
- Pederson was a backup on a Dolphins team that beat Belichick’s Browns in 1993.
- Pederson was one of Brett Favre’s backups on the Packers team that beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. Belichick was assistant head coach/secondary coach for that Patriots team.
- Pederson was Brett Favre’s backup in a second stint with the Packers, who played Belichick’s Patriots in 2002.
- Pederson was the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach in 2011 when they lost to the Patriots in the regular season.
- Pederson also faced Belichick twice as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator. Once in the 2014 regular season (a KC win), and once in the playoffs after the 2015 season (a KC loss).
It’s very likely that Belichick doesn’t even remember a lot from that particular game from 2000, if anything. Even if he does, he doesn’t want to talk about it:
Belichick, asked for his memories of Pederson the Browns QB to whom he lost in 2000, instead talks about Pederson the coach.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) January 30, 2018
"That was a long time ago."
But if Belichick was looking for a little bit of extra motivation to try to win his sixth Super Bowl, he’s got it right here.