Rodney Harrison watched the Golden State Warriors seek 73 wins with a mixture of envy, surprise and delight. He played a different sport, in a far different league, but Harrison could relate to the Warriors’ pursuit. He played safety for the 2007 New England Patriots, one of the select few teams that faced the unique challenge the Warriors currently confront: Pursuing a championship in the postseason after pursuing history in the regular season.

Those Patriots, undefeated in the regular season and losers in the Super Bowl, provide a cautionary example to these Warriors. Already, Harrison has noted a significant difference. Seeing the Warriors embrace and revel in their achievement, Harrison wished the Patriots had been more open about their emotions during their 16-0 season.

“It’s really fun to watch a different way of embracing it and approaching it,” Harrison said. Coach Bill Belichick “did a really great job of keeping us focused. I just wish I could have expressed myself more, how great that felt instead of always keeping everything inside and staying focused on the next game.”

The Warriors basked Wednesday night in their 73rd victory, a celebration they had no intention of launching in late October. Their aim of winning a second consecutive NBA title became obscured as their regular season turned historic. They competed against ghosts, chasing the 1996 Chicago Bulls as the rest of the NBA chased them.

Now that the Warriors have set an NBA record for regular-season wins, they must reset their focus on a postseason championship. “Now the real journey begins,” Stephen Curry wrote underneath an Instragram photo of his jersey and shoes from Wednesday night. Few teams understand the unique task – part burden, part opportunity – the Warriors confront now. One of them, the most prominent and most recent, provides a cautionary example.

“As we unfortunately found out, no one remembers the losers of the Super Bowl,” former Patriots wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth said, “unless you’re the 2007 Patriots.”

The Warriors will begin their title defense Saturday afternoon with Game 1 of their first-round series against the Houston Rockets. Unlike the other 15 teams in the field, they will have to manage the pressure of validating a record season, regroup after a massive achievement and play with an extra-large bull’s eye on their backs.

The psychological challenge the Warriors are up against right now – pursuing a title immediately after pursuing a historic regular season – is rare. The best test is probably the 2007 Patriots, who under great scrutiny became the first NFL team to finish the regular season 16-0. Those Patriots, of course, are remembered two ways: as an all-time great team and the one that finished 18-1 after a Super Bowl. The Warriors will try to finish what those Patriots could not.

“Coming off a championship last season gives them more peace,” said Harrison, now an analyst for NBC’s Football Night in America. “People know they’re not flukes. That takes a lot of pressure off them. Pressure is real. Pursuing that record, wining all those games, it does have a tendency to wear you down. The expectation from media and fans is to always play on that level. And with that, you’re going to get every team’s very best. It becomes a heck of a lot of pressure.”

The pressure will feel different for different members of the Warriors. Heath Evans, a power running back and special teamer on the 2007 Patriots, has listened to more prominent teammates explain the anxiety of chasing a record. He never felt it, he said, because he was a role player and not a star. He expects the same principle will apply for Golden State.

“Andrew Bogut knows what’s expected of him,” Evans said. “Steph knows, ‘If I don’t shoot 40-plus percent, we’re gonna lose.’ It’s a different breed of pressure.”

The Patriots, under Belichick, consciously attempted to disregard their run at history. Belichick demanded players not speak about the undefeated mark to reporters or among themselves in the locker room. Still, the reality became unavoidable, the possibility too tantalizing. “Once December hit, it was like, ‘Let’s do it,’ ” Stallworth said.

For some Patriots, the toll of chasing a perfect record grew taxing. Opponents played them with greater intensity and urgency. Pressure mounted not just from trying to win, but from vying for a record. No matter how much the Patriots refocused once the playoffs started, the regular season had made it difficult to sustain their level of play. The Warriors will need to navigate the same pitfalls.

“It’s not like a video game,” Stallworth said. “People believe you can get up for every game equally. We deal with the human mind, the human psyche. It does take a lot to get reenergized after such a big accomplishment. The end game is supposed to be the Super Bowl or the NBA championship. But when you have going undefeated or breaking the Bulls’ record on your mind, it’s in your head. I have to believe that’s why Belichick didn’t want us to think about going 16-0.”

The Warriors and Patriots arrived at their regular-season records with polar approaches. Belichick, famously maniacal about focusing players on the present, routed any discussion of a perfect record from the locker room. Warriors Coach Steve Kerr encouraged players to acknowledge the record and their desire to break it, and the Warriors openly declared their determination to make history.

Harrison made clear he didn’t blame his coach for anything – “In no way am I suggesting this is Belichick’s fault,” Harrison said. But he also believes the Warriors’ approach will help them transition from the regular season to the playoffs.

“I got tired of ignoring the elephant in the room,” Harrison said. “We had a lot of veterans. I wasn’t afraid of us being focused. I wish we would have been able to do a better job of being willing to express ourselves and the feeling of being undefeated.”

The Patriots remain stung by the incomplete ending to their perfect season. But they embrace the achievement of being undefeated. Recently, Stallworth moved and pulled out memorabilia from storage. It included a framed jersey from the 2007 season. It brought mixed emotions. He asked friends, some of whom had played in the NFL and won Super Bowls, whether he should display it or hide it.

Hang it on a wall, they told him. After some thought, Stallworth agreed.

“Yeah,” Stallworth said, “how many people get to say they went undefeated?”

The Warriors, then, should appreciate what they have done no matter how the next two months unfold. But the 2007 Patriots can tell them how important those two months will be. They can handle everything coming at them the right way, but the final result will be judged, even independent of their indelible season.

“It doesn’t matter,” Harrison said, “if you don’t play well in the big games.”