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Belichick is a constant for the Patriots

January 12, 2007|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

It may seem as if the New England Patriots raise their performance in the playoffs based on their postseason record under Coach Bill Belichick.

Not true. Not when the Patriots' regular-season statistics are compared with their playoff runs that include three Super Bowl victories in a four-year span.

The Patriots average about the same yardage in the playoffs as they do during the regular season. The same goes for Belichick's famed defense -- the averages for opposing offenses also are about the same.

A few of the differences don't even favor New England. For example, the Patriots won the 2005 Super Bowl while averaging fewer yards and giving up more during the playoffs than they did during the regular season. Go figure.

The main constant has been Belichick. He's 12-2 all-time in the postseason, including 11-1 with New England. He also picked up two Super Bowl rings as defensive coordinator for the New York Giants.

Belichick knows how to get his team to peak in the playoffs like no other NFL coach. Even Hall of Famers such as Chuck Noll, who won four Super Bowls, and Bill Walsh, who won three, lost plenty of playoff games -- Knoll eight; Walsh four.

On Sunday, Belichick, who trails only Vince Lombardi in postseason winning percentage among NFL coaches -- will lead the Patriots against a San Diego Chargers team coached by Marty Schottenheimer.

At first glance, this looks like a mismatch. Schottenheimer's 5-12 record in the postseason is a black eye compared with Belichick's glowing playoff mark.

Then again, the Patriots lost at Denver last year in the playoffs.

Summary: The Chargers expect to have the type of crowd support that will give them a strong home-field advantage against the Patriots. Belichick's Super Bowl-winning teams were able to win on the road, but last year New England fell short against the Broncos. San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson is ready for a playoff breakout and the Chargers defense is good enough to prevent quarterback Tom Brady from executing long drives.

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lonnie.white@latimes.com

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