(Reuters) - The New England Patriots returned home to a hero’s welcome on Monday, a day after beating the Los Angeles Rams in a defensive slugfest to win their sixth Super Bowl title.
The Patriots’ plane, with a now-out-of-date tail that has five Vince Lombardi Trophy images on it, landed in Warwick, Rhode Island, before the team drove 40 minutes to their stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Julian Edelman were not present as both were at Disney World in Florida.
Yet that did not dampen the mood among the more than 1,000 fans on hand to celebrate the latest chapter of a Patriots dynasty that began 17 years ago.
Chants of “We’re still here!” — a rallying cry the team adopted during its postseason run — filled the air outside the stadium as members of the team exited buses that sported “Go Patriots” in bold red letters on the sides.
The sight of the players, head coach Bill Belichick, the architect behind each of the Patriots’ Super Bowl wins, and the sterling silver Vince Lombardi Trophy delighted those who had waited hours for their arrival.
The celebration extended one that began late on Sunday in Atlanta where the Patriots collected a record-tying sixth Super Bowl championship in their 11th appearance in the National Football League’s championship game.
Despite early season struggles that once again raised doubts about whether their dynasty was coming to an end, the Patriots silenced their critics with a 13-3 win over the Rams that was the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever played.
The celebration is far from over as the Patriots Super Bowl victory parade is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. ET (1600 GMT) on Tuesday. More than 1 million people attended the team’s last Super Bowl victory parade in 2017.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis