While Avoiding Dynasty Talk, Patriots Show Why They Win ; New England's Mantra of 'Team' Has Worked Well in the Age of Salary Caps, Clinching the Super Bowl 24-21

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It is now beyond any dispute - the Patriots are a genuine football dynasty. Just don't ask any New England coaches or players to acknowledge it.

In the past week the question has been asked and re-asked about whether winning three Super Bowls within four years would elevate the Patriots to dynasty status. And all week the Patriots have offered little more than a collective shrug - even after downing the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 Sunday night.

"I think that dynasty tag is for somebody else to say, not for us to say," says Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.

Head coach Bill Belichick offered a similar response shortly after the game: "I'll leave the comparisons and historical perspectives to everybody else."

In winning the Super Bowl in 2002, 2004, and now in 2005, New England joins the ranks of the NFL's most dominant teams. The only other team to win three Super Bowls within a four-year period was the Dallas Cowboys between 1993 and 1996. Other great NFL dynasties include the Pittsburgh Steelers, with four championships from 1975 to 1980, and the San Francisco 49ers, with five Super Bowl victories between 1982 and 1995.

Sunday night's NFL championship extended the Patriots' undefeated playoff record under coach Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady to 9- 0. That accomplishment ties a record set by another legendary team - the Green Bay Packers.

It is not hard to understand why New England coaches and players are reluctant to draw comparisons. Generally, the Patriots prefer to let their play on the field do all the talking.

"You can say whatever you want before the game starts, but if you go out there and make all those crazy comments and you lose that game, that is the first thing that is going to come back and bite you," says tackle Matt Light. "So why put yourself in that position?"

Some suggest that the passage of time will reveal the Patriots' proper place in history.

"When you talk about dynasties, you are talking about people 10, 20, 30 years ago," says Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. "Maybe 10 years from now they will be talking about this team the same way we talk about teams from the past."

Not surprisingly, those on the Eagles side also prefer to avoid the D-word. "I'm not saying dynasty," immediately replied Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Johnson to the ubiquitous question of the week. "They are the world champs, I know that."

Beyond all the talk of dynasty, perhaps the Patriots' most significant accomplishment in recent years is that coach Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft appear to have established a blueprint for football success in an era of player free agency and team salary caps. …