BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Doug Pederson once got the better of Bill Belichick.
It was more than 17 years ago. Pederson was a quarterback for the Browns, not the head coach of the Eagles like he is this week. And Belichick, scuffling through his first season in New England at the time, wasn’t quite the legend he is now as the two men approach a sideline clash in Super Bowl LII.
But Pederson remembered the event enough to call it “one of the milestones of my career as a quarterback” on Tuesday.
“That was a home game and we battled and beat them in Cleveland,” Pederson recalled. “Obviously at that time it was great for Cleveland and for myself and the organization. At that time, too, back then, Bill was kind of rolling and getting himself in these types of games here.”
It was Belichick’s return to Cleveland that made it most significant at the time. He had coached the Browns from 1991-95. Pederson, making one of his 17 career starts in a 13-year career, completed 20 of 37 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown in a 19-11 victory on Nov. 12, 2000.
“It’s one of them,” Pederson said when asked if that was the highlight of his career. “Obviously we were struggling as a team in Cleveland that year and there were a ton of injuries, I remember that from that season. A lot of starters on the team were hurt.”
That included starting quarterback Tim Couch breaking his thumb and missing the final nine games, allowing Pederson to play.
On Sunday, Pederson won’t be on the field (although he will have a backup quarterback playing for his team). He’ll be matching wits with Belichick in a Super Bowl as a second-year head coach.
“It’s obviously a challenge,” Pederson said of the matchup. “You go up against a very smart coach, an intelligent coach, a coach who is going to have his team well-prepared. It’s not just the Xs and Os, it’s the situational aspect of the game. Timeouts, fourth downs, red zones, punt situations on fourth downs, all kinds of things that we’re seen from them that we have to — and I have to — be prepared for. We have to make sure we’re all focused.”
If Pederson can beat Belichick again, chances are this one would eclipse the last time in terms of career milestones.