ATLANTA — One sat at his podium with a mixture of happiness and relief on his face. He's been the boy wonder all along, even as the age ticked up with each passing year. But this time, after a trying two-plus years and with perhaps with the least amount of talent around him during this run, he finally looked his 41 years of age.
The other trudged down the bowels of Mercedes-Benz Stadium after his postgame press conference with the same determined air he's had from the beginning, like he's looking for the next game. He's aged like the side of a mountain, slowly but unmistakably. He's not quite the Old Man of the Mountain for the Patriots at age 66, but he's just as imposing and constant.
Tom Brady. Bill Belichick. Super Bowl champions for the sixth time together after a 13-3 victory over the Rams. The most-ever titles for a player. The most-ever for a coach.
Decades from now, mouths will be agape trying to comprehend what they've done during this run. Eighteen seasons. Nine Super Bowl appearances (and counting). Winning at a .667 clip when they get there. All the playoff wins. All the championship games. All the confetti.
Part of you wants it to end this way, so you can picture them all as they should be: at the height of their profession.
Can they do it again? Will they want to? This one was so hard ... will they be able to climb this mountain again?
Those are questions for another, hopefully, warm day in the offseason for all of them. For now, though, let's deal with what we witnessed Sunday night.
If there is more for Brady and Belichick, it's not quite a bookend title to the first in 2001. Call it a matching set. Because in many ways, this team and this game closely resembled the 2001 upset of the St. Louis Rams.