New England Patriots
1960: The Boston Patriots, owned by Billy Sullivan Jr., a Boston businessman with a strong sports background, were among eight teams in the inaugural season of the renegade American Football League. It was the fourth attempt at a Professional Football team in Boston, following the Boston Bulldogs, Boston Redskins, and Boston Yanks. With a roster full of misfits and NFL castoffs, the Patriots were involved in two significant firsts for the new league. On July 30th, the Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills in the first AFL pre-season game. Then, on September 9th, a crowd of 21,597 at Nickerson Field (the stadium was previously known as Braves Field) witnessed the Patriots lose 13-10 to the Denver Broncos in the first official AFL game. The Pats would get their first win a week later in New York against the Titans. They would finish with a 5-9 record that saw them finish last among the four teams in the Eastern Division.
1961: In their second season, the Patriots got off to another slow start losing three of their first five games, prompting management to fire coach Lou Saban and replace him with Mike Holovak. The move paid off as the Past would lose only one more game that season before finishing in second place with a solid 9-4-1 record.
1962: In Mike Holovak’s first full season as coach, the Patriots once again were in contention, finishing in second place with an identical 9-4-1 record. A November 18th loss to the Houston Oilers proved to be the Pats undoing as the Oilers went to the AFL Championship Game for the third time in three years.
1963: In their first season at Fenway Park, the Patriots hovered around the .500 mark. Fortunately, so did the rest of the AFL East, as the Pats had a chance to clinch a spot in the AFL Championship game with a win in their final game. A 35-3 loss at Kansas City to the Chiefs left them at 7-6-1, forcing them into a tie for the division title with Buffalo Bills. This would set up a divisional playoff with the Bills in Buffalo for a trip to the AFL Championship Game. The Pats would rise to the occasion stunning the Bills in Buffalo 26-8 and earned a trip to San Diego. The AFL Championship was almost over before it even started, as the Pats were thrashed 51-10 by the high-flying Chargers.
1964: Gino Cappelletti was all-everything for the Patriots with his deadly accurate foot. He accounted for 111 points while scoring seven Touchdown receptions as a Wide Receiver. The Pats were even more substantial than the year before and sat at 10-2-1 going into the final game of the season at Fenway Park against the Buffalo Bills, with a trip to the AFL Championship Game on the line. Despite a sellout crowd of 38,021, the Pats fell 24-14, as the Bills went on to win the AFL Championship.
1965: The Patriots stumbled out of the gate by going winless in their first seven games, before beating the Chargers in San Diego on Halloween. The Pats would then lose two more games before tying the Kansas City Chiefs as their record sat at 1-8-2 through their first 11 games. The Pats would win three straight to escape last place as they finished the season with a disappointing 4-8-2 record.
1966: After a slow 1-2-1 star, the Patriots found their footing as Running Back Jim Nance established an AFL record with 1,458 yards rushing. Sitting at 8-3-2, the Patriots only needed to beat the Jets at New York to earn a trip to the AFL Championship Game. However, the Pats would fall 38-28 and lost a chance to host a game for the right to play in Super Bowl I.
1967: Forced to play their first five games on the road with the Boston Red Sox using Fenway Park for the World Series, the Patriots found themselves in a 1-3-1 hole they could not climb out of. The Pats would finish in last place with a 3-10-1 record despite another rushing title from Jim Nance.
1968: The Patriots struggled again, finishing in fourth place with a 4-10 record in their final season at Fenway Park. After the season, coach Mike Holovak was fired. Clive Rush would replace him.
1969: After six seasons at tiny Fenway Park, the Patriots change their address again, playing their home games at Boston College’s Alumni Stadium. Things were not any better for the Patriots as lost their first seven games under new coach Clive Rush, on the way to another disappointing 4-10 season.
1970: Now playing their games at Harvard Stadium in Cambridge, the Patriots won their first game of the season over the Miami Dolphins 27-14. The good news ended right there, as the Patriots would only win once more, finishing with the worst record (2-14) in the now merged NFL. The Pats were the worse team on both sides of the ball while committing 41 turnovers.
1971: After playing in four different stadiums in the first 11 seasons, the Patriots finally found a permanent home in Foxboro. For ten years, the Patriots had requested the city of Boston to build them a stadium but found no support and were forced to settle for Foxborough, a highway community in Massachusetts near the Rhode Island border. With games now being played in Foxborough, the Pats decided to drop Boston from their name and became the New England Patriots. A new stadium was not the only reason for any excitement that season. The Pats had drafted Heisman Trophy-winning Quarterback Jim Plunkett out of Stanford. Plunkett had immediate success helping the Pats win their season opener at Schafer Stadium 20-6 over the heavily favored Oakland Raiders. The Pats would lose five of their next six games as Plunkett struggled. The Pats would finish with a 6-8 record, along the way stunning the Super Bowl-bound Miami Dolphins 34-13.
1972: After a solid rookie season, quarterback Jim Plunkett endured the Sophomore Jinx. After a 2-1 start, the Patriots would go on a nine-game losing streak that would coast the jobs of both Coach John Mazur and General Manager Upton Bell. Interim coach Phil Bengston would win only one of his four games as the Pats finished with a terrible 3-13 record.
1973: Searching for a new start, the Patriots hired Chuck Fairbanks from the University of Oklahoma to breathe new life into the struggling franchise. That season also saw the Pats draft John Hannah to rebuild their depleted offensive line. After a 2-7 start, the Pats would finally show signs of life by winning their next three games before finishing the season with a 5-9 record.
1974: To try improving the porous defense Chuck Fairbanks instituted the schemes he used while coaching Oklahoma. The move seemed to work as the Pats stunned the two time Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins in Week 1 at Schaffer Stadium. The Past would go on to win their first five games on their way to a 6-1 start. However, the Pats would struggle in the second half, winning only one game before finishing with a 7-7 record.
1975: With quarterback Jim Plunkett struggling with injuries and poor play, the Patriots struggled again. This led to the emergence of back up quarterback Steve Grogan whose hard play impressed both his coach and New England’s fans. The Pats would finish with a 3-13 record and trade Jim Plunkett to the San Francisco 49ers following the season.
1976: With the draft picks acquired from the 49ers for Jim Plunkett, the Patriots drafted cornerback Mike Haynes and Safety Tim Fox. The two became instant starters and contributors. After losing the season opener, the Pats won their next three games against the most dominant AFC team during the decade. The first victim was the Miami Dolphins, who the Pats defeated in the season opener of Schafer Stadium. The following week saw Quarterback Steve Grogan lead a rally from an 11-point deficit to stun the Steelers in Pittsburgh. One week later, it was back to Schaffer Stadium, where the Pats humiliated the Oakland Raiders 48-17. After a disappointing loss in Detroit to the Lions, the Pats would embarrass the New York Jets 41-7 in front of a Monday Night National Audience. The Pats were indeed for real and would earn a tie for the AFC East title with an 11-3 record, as Mike Haynes captured Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. The Baltimore Colts would earn the tiebreaker as the Pats were forced to settle for the Wild Card berth. In their first playoff game in 13 years, the Patriots traveled to Oakland for a showdown with the Raiders. Despite beating them in Week 4, the Pats were heavy underdogs. Like the first matchup, the Pats controlled the game early and had a 21-10 lead after three quarters. The Raiders would cut the lead to four by scoring early in the fourth quarter. The last eight minutes of the game were filled with several controversial plays. Facing a third Down and-inches situation just inside the Oakland 30-yard line, Brock jumped offside, forcing the Patriots out of their short-yardage offense. On the next play, Grogan attempted to hit Ron Francis over the middle for a drive-sustaining first down, but Raider Linebacker Phil Villipiano all but tackled Francis before the ball arrived, but no penalty was called. After Kicker John Smith missed a 50-yard Field Goal, Raiders Quarterback Ken Stabler maneuvered his team downfield but faced a desperate third down and 18 situations at the New England 27-yard line. Stabler’s passed to former Carl Garrett sailed incomplete, but referee Ben Dreith threw a late flag on Ray Hamilton for roughing the passer. The penalty gave the Raiders a First down on the Pats 12. Aided by two more penalties on the Patriots for unsportsmanlike conduct, the Raiders scored the game-winning touchdown on Stabler’s one-yard with ten seconds remaining.
1977: After a brilliant season, it was almost a forgone conclusion that the Patriots would return to the playoffs and advance deep into the postseason. A bitter holdout by John Hannah and Leon Gray contributed to the team getting off to a 1-2 start. After their two stars returned, the Patriots ran off four straight wins to get back into playoff contention. Two consecutive losses to divisional rivals put all hopes for the playoffs in jeopardy as the Pats stood at 5-4 with five games left. The Pats would rebound and win four straight. However, those two losses would make their final game of the season meaningless, as even a win in Baltimore over the Colts would not earn them any of the Division tiebreakers.
1978: The Patriots suffered a devastating loss before the regular season even began. During a preseason game in Oakland, star Wide Receiver Darryl Stingley had his spinal cord shattered by a cheap shot from Raiders defender Jack Tatum, leaving Stingley paralyzed for life. After a 1-2 start, the Pats returned to the scene of the incident for a Sunday Night game against the Raiders. The game was played during a driving rainstorm. The Pats fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter. However, the Pats would rally and win the game when Sam Cunningham dove over the Raiders’ goal-line defense in the final minute. The win would be the springboard to a seven-game winning streak that catapulted the Pats to the AFC East’s top. The Pats went into the next to last game of the season with a 10-4 record needing only a win over the Buffalo Bills to win their first division title in 15 years. Close to 60,000 fans braved the elements to watch the Patriots win 26-24 on David Posey’s 34-yard Failed Goal with eight seconds left. After the game, the long-suffering Pats fans stormed Schaffer Stadium’s field and tore down the goalposts. Even as the Patriots were celebrating their AFC East title, trouble was brewing as rumors about coach Chuck Fairbanks leaving for the University of Colorado turned into fact just hours before the start of the club’s season finale in Miami. Fairbanks had grown unhappy with the growing encroachment from the Sullivan family. Enraged, team owner Billy Sullivan suspended Fairbanks on the spot, creating a bizarre situation where assistant coaches Ron Erhardt and Hank Bullough shared the coaching duties against the Dolphins. The result was a lackluster 23-3 loss made notable only for the knee sprain sustained by quarterback Steve Grogan in the second quarter. After several days of legal tactics, Fairbanks was re-instated for the Patriots playoff game against the Houston Oilers at Schaffer Stadium. The turmoil surrounding their coaching situation swallowed up the Pats and led to a 31-14 trouncing from the Oilers. As the team left the field, Chuck Fairbanks was the target of the fans’ boos.
1979: The Chuck Fairbanks fiasco dragged on in the courts for months before a settlement was reached on April 2nd when the University of Colorado agreed to compensate the Patriots for releasing their head coach from his contract, as Ron Erhardt was named the Patriots the new coach. In their season opener, the Patriots faced the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night as Darryl Stingley returned to Schaffer Stadiums. Patriots fans gave their paralyzed star a long sustained standing ovation. The emotion did not carry over as the Pats lost 16-13 in overtime. The Pats would find themselves at 8-4, as the team featured a more wide-open offense under quarterback Steve Grogan. A three-game losing streak ended their playoff chances ended the Pats playoff hopes, as the team settled for a disappointing 9-7 season.
1980: With running back Sam Cunningham holding out all season, the Patriots turned to rookie Vargas Ferguson to carry the rushing game’s bulk. Ferguson responded by breaking the team’s rookie rushing record. The Patriots would sit at 6-1 near the midway point and seem poised for the playoffs. The Pats would win just two of their next seven games and finish with a 10-6 record that saw them fall just short of a Wild Card berth.
1981: After narrowly missing the playoffs two years in a row, the Patriots were favored to win the AFC East, while a perfect 4-0 preseason only increased expectations. The Pats would stumble out of the gates, losing their first four games, placing them in a cavernous hole. The Pats would win two of their next three games but would close the season on a nine-game losing streak to finish with a 2-14 record, as coach Ron Erhardt was fired after the season.
1982: For their new head coach, ten Patriots selected another form the college ranks. Ron Meyer, who had built the SMU program, brought his no-nonsense style to Foxboro, hoping he could spark some life into a dead franchise. The Pats would split their first two games, as the season was pity on hold for a strike. When the strike ended two months later, the Pats were in danger of falling out of the playoff race going into a critical showdown at home with Miami Dolphins. The game was scoreless for 55 minutes as both teams struggled in the snow. Kicker John Smith would have help when he attempted what proved to be the game-winning Field Goal in the game’s final moments. Mark Henderson, a convict on a weekend furlough, used his snowplow to clear a spot of the Field Goal attempt that was good, as the Pats were back in the eight-team playoff chase. The Pats would finish with a 5-4 record, earring them the seventh-seeded a rematch with Miami Dolphins. The first-round rematch turned into a mismatch as the Dolphins got revenge for the snowplow loss with a 28-13 win.
1983: With the departure of long-time veterans Mike Haynes and Don Hasselbeck, Coach Ron Meyer fielded the second youngest club in the NFL. The first game of the season at the newly renamed Sullivan Stadium gave fans an indication of what they would see all season. The Patriots rushed for more than 200 yards and rolled up more than 400 yards of total offense, but four turnovers, including a costly Tony Collins fumble in overtime, led to a 29-23 loss to the Baltimore Colts. The Patriots played all season inconsistently, but at 8-7, they had a chance for a playoff spot with a win in their final game in Seattle. The Patriots would have problems with turnovers as rookie quarterback Tony Eason was swallowed up in a 24-6 loss to the Seahawks.
1984: With the number one draft pick Irving Fryar, Patriots fans were optimistic heading into the season. After splitting the first two games on the road, the Patriots fell behind the Seattle Seahawks 23-0 in their home opener. However, the Patriots would rally as Tony Eason replaced Steve Grogan at Quarterback, and rallied the Pats to a 38-23 win. The Pats won three of their next four games and entered a Sullivan Stadium showdown with the Miami Dolphins at 5-2. However, trouble was brewing, as the players had gotten tired with Coach Ron Meyer’s tactics. After a 44-24 loss, owner Billy Sullivan decided to fire Meyer and named Hall of Fame receiver Raymond Berry the new coach team. Berry won three of his first four games but had a hard time learning the offense, and the team would lose three straight before finishing the season with a disappointing 9-7 record.
1985: The Patriots got off to a slow start again, losing three of their first five games. After Quarterback Tony Eason struggled again early in a Week 6, Steve Grogan came off the bench and played some of the most inspired football in his long career. With Grogan at the controls, New England reeled off six consecutive wins to thrust itself into the race’s thick for the division title. Included in that stretch were home victories over the rival New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Just as it seemed the Pats were on track for a division title Grogan broke his leg in a 16-13 overtime loss to the Jets. The injury resulted in Tony Eason getting his job back. Unlike earlier in the season, Eason was healthy and played well, leading the Pats to two straight wins, setting up a Monday Night Showdown in Miami for the division title. Once again, the Pats Orange Bowl jinx struck again in a heartbreaking 30-27 loss that had them on the bubble. Needing a win in the final week, the Patriots beat the Cincinnati Bengals 34-23 to earn a Wild Card spot. However, their 11-5 record was only good for the fifth seed meaning the Pats would not have a home game. The Patriots began their playoff journey in the swamps of New Jersey in the wild card game against the New York Jets. Led by four Tony Franklin Field Goals, the Patriots would win their first playoff game in 22 years 26-14. One week later, the Patriots were on the road again facing the Los Angeles Raiders. The Pats forced six turnovers in the game and stunned the heavily favored Raiders 27-20 to set up an AFC Championship Game showdown against the Miami Dolphins. However, if the pats were going to beat the Dolphins, they need to end their 19-year losing streak at the Orange Bowl. Turnovers would again play a vital role as the Patriots forced six turnovers again and stunned the Dolphins 31-14, behind Craig James’s running to advance to Super Bowl XX.
Super Bowl XX: The Patriots were massive underdogs going into the Super Bowl XX in New Orleans against the 15-1 Chicago Bears. The Patriots defense would set up early, forcing a Walter Payton fumble setting them up deep in Bears territory in the first minute of the game. However, the Pats could not capitalize and settled for a Field Goal and a 3-0 lead. From there, it just went downhill fast as the Bears poured on a 46 point onslaught that even saw William “The Refrigerator” Perry score a Touchdown. The Pats would score a cosmetic touchdown late but still walked off the field with a humiliating 46-10 loss.
1986: The Patriots suffered a severe blow before the season got underway when perennial All-Pro guard John Hannah announced his retirement on June 30th. The vaunted Patriots running attack, a staple of New England teams for more than a decade, virtually evaporated without Hannah. As a team, the Patriots averaged only 2.9 yards per rush and ranked dead last in the NFL. The burden of moving the offense fell on Tony Eason’s shoulders, and he responded with one of the finest seasons ever by a Patriots Quarterback, as the Pats were the second highest-scoring team in football with 412 points. After splitting the first six games, the Patriots won seven straight games and were able to win the AFC East. After consecutive losses to the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers, the Pats need a win in the Monday Night season finale in Miami. In the final game ever at the Orange Bowl, the Pats won 34-27 to win the AFC East title. In the Divisional Playoffs against the Denver Broncos, the Pats held a 17-15 lead midway through the fourth quarter at Mile High Stadium. A 48-yard John Elway touchdown pass doomed the Pats chances of a return trip to the Super Bowl.
1987: After the Pats split the first two games of the season, the NFL went on strike and returned a week later with replacement players. Several Pats players, including Andre Tippet, crossed the picket line, and the Pats stood at 3-2 when the regular players returned. During the strike, the Pats dealt for Quarterback Doug Flutie, and he led them to a 23-13 win in Houston over the Oilers in the final replacement game. When the strike ended the following week, the Patriots appeared rusty, as former coach Ron Meyer earned his first victory over his old team when his Indianapolis Colts forced three turnovers en route to a 30-16 win. The following week the Patriots lost three of their starters for the remainder of the season in a costly 26-23 win over the Los Angeles Raiders. The Pats would then lose four of their next five games to fall out of playoff contention. However, the Pats would win their last three games to ensure their fourth straight winning season at 8-7.
1988: The season started on a high note as the Pats rolled over the New York Jets 28-3 in a rainstorm at Sullivan Stadium. Steve Grogan opened the Quarterback season, and the 14-year veteran responded with a fine afternoon, passing for 256 yards and two touchdowns, both going to Wide Receiver Irving Fryar. The Pats would lose their next three games. Trailing the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5, the Pats turned to Doug Flutie, who led the team off the bench to a 21-13 come from behind win. The dramatic win seemed to rally the moribund Patriots, as New England won six of its next eight games with Flutie at the helm, while super rookie running back John Stevens was rushing his way to Offensive Rookie of the year honors. A costly Week 13 loss in Indianapolis put the Pats on the brink. After a 13-7 win over the Seattle Seahawks, Flutie was benched in favor of Tony Eason, who led the way in a 10-7 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To make the playoffs, the Pats needed a win in Denver against the Broncos. Much to the consternation of the fans watching back home, Flutie remained on the sidelines as Eason and Steve Grogan helped the Patriots roll up more than 300 yards of offense but managed to score only ten points despite six possessions inside the Denver 30-yard line. Shortly after the season in which the Pats posted a 9-7 record, an era came to an end when Billy Sullivan was forced to sell the team to Victor Kiam.
1989: Any hopes the Patriots harbored for a return to the postseason vanished on September 1st. When in the last exhibition game, the Patriots lost key defensive starters Garin Veris, Andre Tippett, and Ronnie Lippett to season-ending injuries. Despite the tremendous setback, the Patriots pulled out a 27-24 road victory against the New York Jets in the season opener. The injuries would quickly catch up to them as the Pats lost seven of their next nine games and sat at 3-7. Throughout the season, the Pats kept changing quarterbacks rotated from Tony Eason to Doug Flutie to Steve Grogan. The Pats would win two of their next three games to improve their record to 5-8. The Pats closed out their season with three straight losses, which cost coach Raymond Berry his job suffering their first losing season since 1981, at 5-11.
1990: Under new head coach Rod Rust the season did not get off to a good start as the Miami Dolphins ran over the Patriots all day at newly renamed Foxboro Stadium. A week later, the Pats eked out a 16-14 win in Indianapolis over the Colts. However, when they returned home, the Patriots were thrown in the middle of a sexual harassment scandal when Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson was sexually harassed and verbally assaulted by several Patriots players in the team’s locker room. As the NFL investigated the charges, a black cloud hung over the Pats season, which spiraled down out of control. The Pats would not win another game and finished with an embarrassing 1-15 record. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue eventually fined the team $50,000, fined Patriots tight end Zeke Mowatt $12,500, and wide receiver Michael Timpson and running back Robert Perryman $5,000 each the Lisa Olson incident. The whole situation resulted in a general shake-up of the entire Patriots organization from the front office to the head coach.
1991: The task of reshaping this disorganized band of players fell to the 60-year-old Dick MacPherson, who was hired after a successful ten-year tenure as head coach of Syracuse University. Foxboro Stadium took on a brand new appearance of its own by installing a natural grass playing surface. The Patriots posted an impressive 16-7 road victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the season opener, snapping a franchise-record 14-game losing streak. Over the next two weeks, the Pats failed to score a single touchdown, prompting MacPherson to replace starting Quarterback Tommy Hodson with four-year veteran Hugh Millen. The move brought immediate results. Millen hit wide receiver Greg McMurtry with a game-winning 34-yard touchdown pass with only six seconds remaining to give the Patriots a pulsating 24-20 upset victory over the Houston Oilers in Week 4. The Pats lost five of their next six games and sat at 3-8. The Patriots would win three of their final five games to finish at 6-10, but the late-season success gave fans hope for the future.
1992: The Patriots stumbled out of the gate, losing their first nine games as rumors of a move to St. Louis began to fly when St. Louis businessman James Orthwein had bought out his partners to become the sole owner of the franchise. The Pats would finally get their first win of the Indianapolis season against the Colts with a 37-34 win in overtimes. A week later, the Pats would get their second win of the season at home against the New York Jets. The Pats would lose their next two games by a combined 40-0 score and would go on to close out the season on a five-game losing streak to finish with a league worse 2-14 record.
1993: After compiling only a 9-39 record in their last three seasons, the Patriots needed both a fresh start and a savior to deliver them back to respectability, so the reigns of the franchise were handed over to Bill Parcells. His first order of business was to find a franchise player to build around, and with the first pick in the draft, the Patriots selected quarterback Drew Bledsoe. A new era was set to begin for the Patriots even as rumors of a move to St. Louis were still flying, as the club got a new logo replacing the 30-year old Pat the Patriot image. Drew Bledsoe has given the starting Quarterback job right away and struggled early, losing his first four games. In Week 5, Bledsoe would suffer a knee injury as backup Scott Secules led the Pats to their first win. Bledsoe would miss two weeks as the club began a seven-game losing streak. At 1-11, it looked as if the Past were in for the NFL’s worst record for the third time in four years. However, Bledsoe began to get comfortable with his NFL surroundings and led the Patriots to a season-ending four-game winning streak, which was capped by a 33-27 overtime win at Foxboro over the Miami Dolphins, which knocked them out of the playoffs.
1994: Speculation of a move to St. Louis continued to fly until Robert Kraft, at the NFL’s urging, bought the Patriots from James Orthwein. The sale gave the franchise solid ownership committed to keeping them in the New England region. This led to new records in season ticket sales, as fans anticipated a return to playoff glory. On November 13th, the Pats sat at 3-6, going into a game against the Minnesota Vikings. The Pats would fall behind 20-0 when Bill Parcells decided to scrap his regular offense and employ a no-huddle attack the rest of the game. As Drew Bledsoe rallied New England to a 26-20 victory in overtime with the most prolific passing display in NFL history, the results were spectacular. Bledsoe set NFL records for attempts and completions by hitting 45-of-70 passes for 426 yards and three touchdowns. Bledsoe’s final throw of the game was a 14-yard game-winning scoring toss to Fullback Kevin Turner, a score that sent the sellout crowd at Foxboro Stadium into a frenzy. The pulsating victory turned the Patriots season around, as they ran off seven straight wins to secure their first playoff berth since 1986, with a 10-6 record. The season ended on a sour note in the Wild Card round in Cleveland when a rugged Browns defense led by Bill Belichick shut down Bledsoe and the Patriots passing attack in a 20-13 victory.
1995: The season started on a high note with rookie running back Curtis Martin breaking off a 30-yard run on the first play from scrimmage in the season opener against the Cleveland Browns, as the Pats got off on the right foot with a 17-14 win. Inconstant play and an injury to Drew Bledsoe led to a four-game losing streak. The Patriots would finish with a 6-10 record, but despite the disappointing record, there were several positive developments, including a strong season from Offensive Rookie of the Year Curtis Martin.
1996: The season began as the relationship between coach Bill Parcells and owner Robert Kraft became more strained. After losing their first two games on the road, the Pats came home and demolished the Arizona Cardinals 31-0. It was the start of an eight-game stretch where the Pats won seven games. After a humiliating 34-8 loss at home to the Denver Broncos, the Pats responded by winning four of their final five games to close the season with an 11-5 record good enough for an AFC East Championship with a first-round playoff bye. In the Divisional Playoff round, the Patriots steamrolled the Pittsburgh Steelers on a foggy afternoon at Foxboro Stadium. A week later, in the first AFC Championship Game played at Foxboro Stadium, the Pats defense smothered the Jacksonville Jaguars running game all day, holding the surprising Jaguars to just six points. The Pats would sew up a trip to the Super Bowl with an Otis Smith 47-yard Fumble return that sealed the 20-6 win.
Super Bowl XXXI: The Patriots were back in New Orleans for the Super Bowl, and hoped they could improve on their humiliating experience 11 years earlier. Once again, the Pats were underdogs facing the Green Bay Packers. However, a dark cloud hung around the team for two weeks as Coach Bill Parcels began talks about filling the New York Jets coaching vacancy even as his team prepared to take on the Packers. The Pats would fall behind early 10-0 but rallied for two Touchdowns to take a 14-10 lead after the first quarter. The Packers responded by scoring 17 points in the 2nd quarter to take a 27-14 lead at the half. The Pats would get back in the game with a Touchdown late in the 3rd quarter, but an ensuing kick off return by Desmond Howard gave the Packers a 35-21 lead going into the final quarter. The Packers defense stiffened and smothered Drew Bledsoe to capture their first Super Bowl Championship in 29 years.
1997: Just five days after losing Super Bowl XXXI, Bill Parcells resigned to coach the New York Jets. The next month saw the two AFC East rivals fighting over compensation before the NFL mediated and ruled the Jets owed the Pats draft picks for taking their coach. Under new coach Pete Carroll, the Pats got off to a flying start winning their first four games, including a 27-24 overtime win over the Jets in Bill Parcells return to Foxboro. The Patriots would lose five of their next seven games and sit on the playoff bubble going into the final five weeks. The Past rebounded and won their next three games. After an overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pats needed a win in Miami to repeat as Division Champions, in the Monday Night Season finale. With the Jets losing the day before, the game would serve to decide home field when the two teams met one week later in the Wild Card round. The Pats would shut down the Dolphins offense again and won the AFC East with a 14-12 victory. In the Wild Card match up the Pats defense seemed to know the Dolphins playbook by heart, as they shut down the Dolphins 17-3 to advance to the Division Round. The Patriots quest to repeat as conference champions ended the following week in Pittsburgh as they fell to the Steelers 7-6. Already forced to play without Curtis Martin and Ben Coates, the Patriots also lost Wide Receiver Terry Glenn to a broken collarbone during the game. However, Drew Bledsoe still managed to complete six of seven passes to drive New England near mid-field in the final two minutes. Steelers DE Mike Vrabel beat Bruce Armstrong and stripped the ball from Bledsoe, forcing a fumble that the Steelers recovered to end the game.
1998: The season had taken on ominous overtones long before the first kickoff, as Bills Parcells lured Curtis Martin to the rival New York Jets in the off-season. Rather than matching the Jets lucrative free-agent offer, the Patriots instead opted to take the compensation package and drafted Running Back Robert Edwards from Georgia with their first-round draft pick. After losing the season opener on the road to the Denver Broncos, the Pats returned home and began a four-game winning streak. A week later, the Pats lost a key Monday Night matchup against the Jets. The loss to the Jets was followed up by a 12-9 overtime loss in Miami to the Dolphins. After a win in Indianapolis, the Pats lost two more games in a row. They sat at 5-5 through the first ten games. With their season on the brink, the Pats would win three games in a row before dropping a crucial game in St. Louis to the Rams. During the game, the Pats also lost receiver Terry Glenn and quarterback Drew Bledsoe for the season’s remainder. The Pats would split their last two games and finished at 9-7 and grabbed the sixth spot in the playoffs. However, the Pats would make a quick exit as they were beaten by the Jacksonville Jaguars 25-10. At the end of the season, the Pats stunned Foxboro’s fans when the announced plans to move to Hartford, Connecticut.
1999: The plans to move to Hartford would fall apart as voters in Connecticut rejected plans for a new stadium. Meanwhile, Foxboro’s city stepped up with the promise to build a new stadium, which would open in 2002. The news for the Pats team was not as good, as the team found itself without a Running Back when rookie Robert Edwards shredded his knee in a Rookie Beach football game in All-Pro weekend in Hawaii. The injury would put an end Edwards career. Despite the loss of Edwards, the Patriots got off to a 4-0 start. The Pats lost their next two games as the Pats one-dimensional offense caught up to them. The Pats would win their next two games, but after losses in six of their next seven games, Pete Carroll’s fate was sealed. The Pats would win their final game of the season to finish at 8-8, but the search for a new coach was on.
2000: In a strange reversal, the Patriots would hire Bill Belichick as their new head coach after he abruptly quit one day after being named head coach of the New York Jets, replacing his long-time mentor Bill Parcells. Again, the Jets and Pats were fighting over a coach as the Pats sent draft picks to New York for compensation. The Belichick era would get off to a shaky start as the Pats lost their first four games. The Pats’ first win came in Week 5 in the most unlikely locale, Mile High Stadium in Denver, where the Patriots had not managed a win in 32 years, as Drew Bledsoe riddled the suspect Broncos secondary with four Touchdown passes. The Pats would win again at Foxboro Stadium a week later against the Indianapolis Colts, but it was followed by another four straight losses that dropped the team to 2-8. The Pats would split their final six games to finish at 5-11 that landed them in last place in the AFC East.
2001: Not much was expected of the New England Patriots going into their final season at Foxboro Stadium. The Pats would drop their first game of the season 23-17 to the Bengals in Cincinnati. Two days later, the Pats watched the September 11th terrorist attacks with the rest of the world, but Guard Joe Andruzzi had a more personal take as his two firefighter brothers were among those responding to the call at the World Trade Center. Fortunately for the Andruzzi family, both brothers made it out alive, and when the NFL resumed after a week off, they were honored as the Pats faced the New York Jets in the home opener at Foxboro. The game would be a defensive struggle, as the Jets knocked the Pats to 0-2. The worst loss came to Drew Bledsoe, who suffered severe internal injuries after being hit by Mo Lewis late in the fourth quarter. Bledsoe would spend several days in the hospital and would be out for at least two months. With a poor running game and Drew Bledsoe sidelined, Patriots fans were braced for an awful season as an unknown back up Tom Brady took over the reins at quarterback. Brady was impressive in his first game as the Pats stunned the Indianapolis Colts 44-13 at Foxboro Stadium. After a 30-10 loss in Miami to the Dolphins, the Pats would win 4 of their next 5 to climb above .500, as Brady continued to impress at quarterback. After a home loss to the St. Louis Rams, the Pats sat at 5-5, as Drew Bledsoe was cleared to play. Coach Bill Belichick decided to stick with Tom Brady, whom he felt was playing with a hot hand. After a win at home over the New Orleans Saints, the Patriots entered a pivotal showdown with the Jets in the Meadowlands. The Jets would grab an early 13-0. The Pats would rally and would pull out a stunning 17-16 to get back in the AFC East race. The Pats would fallow it up with wins in their next two games to set up a showdown with Miami Dolphins in the final regular-season game at Foxboro Stadium. Before the game, the Pats honored past heroes of Foxboro Stadium, including infamous snowplow driver Mark Henderson. The Pats got off quickly as Tom Brady became a wide receiver in a critical third-down play to set up the first touchdown, as the Patriots jumped out to a 20-0 lead. The Dolphins would score 13 unanswered points, but the Pats held them off to gain first place in the AFC East. After a bye week, the Pats defeated the Panthers in Carolina to finish the season at 11-5, and by virtue of a tiebreaker, the Pats would win the division and would get a playoff bye.
2001 Playoffs: On a snowy Saturday night, the Patriots faced the Oakland Raiders in Divisional Playoffs in the final game ever at Foxboro Stadium. The Pats would fall behind early and trailed 13-3 entering the 4th quarter. The Pats would cut the lead to 13-10, but it looked like their magical season was over when Tom Brady fumbled with 1:43 left in the game, on the Raiders 47-yard line. The Pats had no timeouts, and the Raiders only needed to run out the clock to advance to the AFC Championship Game. However, the play was under review, and referee Walt Coleman reversed the call citing the obscure tuck rule. The Pats were given new life, and when Adam Vinatieri nailed a 47-yard Field Goal through the snow, the game went to overtime. In OT, the Pats won the coin toss and drove the ball down the field for over eight minutes setting up Adam Vinatieri for a 23-yard game-winning chip-shot. The win was highly controversial as the Pats advanced to face the Steelers in Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship. The Pats got off to a fast start in the game thanks to a 55-yard punt return from Troy Brown. The Pats would lose Tom Brady to an ankle sprain in the second quarter. The injury would allow Drew Bledsoe to get back on the field. Bledsoe, who had not made a fuss after losing his job, now had a chance to deliver the Pats to the Super Bowl, as he led the Patriots to a 14-3 halftime lead. The Pats defense was strong all day, smothering Kordell Stewart and causing a turnover, which led to a spectacular lateral from Troy Brown to Antwan Harris that gave the Pats a 21-3 lead. The Steelers would forge a comeback, but it was too late as the Pats held on to a 24-17 win to earn their third trip to the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XXXVI: Once again, the Patriots were in the Super Bowl, and once again, it was in New Orleans, and once again, they were heavy underdogs facing the St. Louis Rams. There was something special about this team, and amid a red, white, and blue patriotic pre-game gala, the Pats refused to be introduced individually, instead choosing to be announced as a team. The Patriots would hold the potent Rams offense to just three points in the 1st quarter, as Tom Brady struggled with early nerves. The Pats’ first big play would come on defense when Ty Law returned an interception 47 yards to give the Pats a 7-3 lead. As the half was coming to a close, the Patriots’ defense created another turnover, setting up a Tom Brady to David Patten Touchdown pass in the final minute to give the Pats a stunning 14-3 halftime lead. The Pats would add a Field Goal in the third quarter and entered the fourth leading 17-3. The Rams offense would begin to click and score their first touchdown to get back. With two minutes remaining, the Pats only needed to stop the Rams one more time to sew up the second-biggest upset in Super Bowl history. The quick-strike Rams struck quickly to tie the game with 1:30 left. Most teams would have just settled for overtime, but with the Rams finding their groove, Bill Belichick knew he had to go for it now. Tom Brady would have his best series leading the team down the field quickly to set up a 48-yard Field Goal attempt in the final seconds. Once again, it was the magical foot of Adam Vinatieri, who delivered the shot heard around the world. The kick was good, and the Pats were Super Bowl Champions. Tom Brady won MVP honors, but in truth, several Pats could have shared it. The Patriots were given a heroes welcome when they came home, as a shocking sports world compared them to the past’s historic upsets.
2002: Coming off their improbable Super Bowl Championship, the Patriots had a brand new state of the art stadium called Gillette Stadium. They opened on Monday night, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-14. The Pats would rack up the points in their first three games scoring 115 points as they got off to a 3-0 start. The Patriots would struggle in October as they lost four straight games, failing to reach 20 points in all four games. The Patriots would recover, winning five of six games to get back into the playoff picture. However, back-to-back losses in primetime to the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets had the Patriots playoff hopes in doubt. Heading into the final week with an 8-7 record, the Pats need a win over the Miami Dolphins at home and a Jets loss to win the division and make the playoffs. Despite falling behind early, the Pats would rally to win in overtime 27-24 on another clutch field goal by Adam Vinatieri. However, the Jets would win their finale as the Patriots missed the playoffs s with a 9-7 record.
2003: The Patriots began the season amidst a storm of controversy as Defensive Captain Lawyer Milloy is released at the end of training camp. Milloy would land with the Buffalo Bills right away, the Pats opponents in Week 1. The Pats appeared stunned and confused as they were humiliated by the Bills 31-0. The Patriots would rebound to win the next two games before dropping their Week 4 match up with the Washington Redskins. As they entered a Week 5 game with the Tennessee Titans in Foxborough, the Pats were banged up with several starters out or playing hurt. Despite the injuries, the Pats played valiantly, beating the Titans 38-30 in an action-packed game clinched up by a dramatic 65-yard interception return by Ty Law. The Pats would win the following week again, setting up an early showdown for the AFC East with the Miami Dolphins in Week 7. The Patriots would seemingly duck several bullets all game as the Dolphins missed 2 Field Goals that would have won the game. In overtime, Tom Brady would take over with a dramatic 82-yard game-winning Touchdown pass to Troy Brown that put the Pats in first place to stay. Close wins would once again become the hallmark of the Patriots as they continued their winning streak with close wins over the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos, which included a wise decision by coach Bill Belichick to take a safety late in the game to gain field position for the last drive, as the Pats had a comeback 30-26 Monday Night victory on the road. As the season wore on, the Pats got healthier, and no matter what the situation, it seemed as if they found a way to win, including a dramatic goalline stand against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 13. A week later, the Pats sewed up the division title with a dominate 12-0 win over the Dolphins played in 28 inches of snow, which fans at Gillette Stadium threw up in celebration. The Pats would go on to win the remainder of their games, bringing their winning streak to 12 games, which included a 31-0 win over the Bills at home in the final game of the season, giving the Patriots a franchise-best 14-2 season that saw them get home field throughout the playoffs. The Patriots opened their playoffs against the Titans in bitterly cold weather in Foxboro, with temperatures near zero degrees. The cold weather seemed to affect both offenses as each side made several mistakes trying to handle the cold football. With the score tied 14-14, Adam Vinatieri nailed a 46-yard field goal with five minutes left to give the Pats a lead. From there, the Patriots defense took over as the Titans’ final drive fell short. Facing the Colts in the AFC Championship Game, the Pats defense rose to the occasion frustrating NFL MVP Peyton Manning all game by sacking him four times and picking off four passes to send the Patriots on to their second Super Bowl in three years with a 24-14 win.
Super Bowl XXXVIII: Unlike their Super Bowl appearance two years earlier, the Patriots entered Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers in Houston as the prohibitive favorite. After a scoreless first quarter, the Patriots struck first blood as Tom Brady found Deion Branch in the endzone with a short five-yard pass. After the Panthers tied the game, the Patriots retook the lead in the final seconds of the first half with another short touchdown pass from Brady to David Givens. The Panthers would score a quick Field Goal as the game went into halftime with the Pats leading 14-10. After both teams went scoreless in the third quarter, the fourth quarter turned into a shootout with the Pats extending their lead to 21-10 before the Panthers struck back with two quick touchdowns to take a 22-21 lead. Losing the lead seemed to wake up the Pats, as the drove right back to take a 29-22 lead on a one-yard pass Mike Vrabel, followed by a successful two-point conversion run by Kevin Faulk. The Panthers struck right back, tying the game at 29 with less than two minutes left. Once again, the Pats were in the final minutes of the Super Bowl with the game tied. As he did two years ago, Tom Brady, who earned Super Bowl MVP honors, drove the Pats into field goal range where Adam Vinatieri nailed a 36-yard field goal as time expired to give the Patriots their second Super Bowl title in three years.
2004: Coming off two Super Bowl Championships in three years, the Patriots appeared even stronger with the addition of All-Pro running back Corey Dillon from the Cincinnati Bengals. The Patriots got off to a quick start beating the Indianapolis Colts in a Thursday Night season opener 27-24, as Tom Brady outgunned Peyton Manning with 335 yards passing. The Pats would use that win to get off to a rocket start as they set the NFL record for consecutive wins over two years at 21 as they topped their 15 wins at the end of 2003 with a 6-0 start. The streak would come to an end on Halloween as the Patriots allowed 21 points to the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 34-20 loss. The loss would be a mere bump in the Patriots’ road as they won their next six games to capture the AFC Eastern Division quickly. It was not without rough waters as at one point, the entire Patriots secondary was injured, forcing Wide Receiver Troy Brown to become a two-way player. Brown would more than hold his own as the Patriots posted a 14-2 record for the second straight season once again led by one of the top defenses in the NFL. In the playoffs, the Pats once again faced the Colts. With the cold New England winds blowing thru Foxboro, the Colts never have a chance as the Patriots defense harassed Manning all day, holding the Colts high powered offense to just three points in a solid 20-3 win which earned them a rematch with the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. Returning to one of two places the Patriots lost a game during the season, the Patriots were determined to prove that the Halloween loss to end their winning streak was a mere aberration. They would get off to a fast start leading 24-3 at halftime as Rodney Harrison returned an interception 87 yards for a touchdown in the waning moments of the first half. The Steelers would make a run at the Pats in the second half, but the Patriots would keep them at arm’s length, always coming up with a big play to answer any scoring done by the Steelers as they earned a trip to Super Bowl for the third time in four years with a 41-27 win.
Super Bowl XXXIX: Facing the Philadelphia Eagles in Jacksonville, the Patriots had a chance to officially declare themselves a dynasty by winning their third Lombardi Trophy in four years. The Pats and Eagles were evenly matched as neither side could get the upper hand with the score tied after each of the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter, the Patriots championship experience began to take over as Corey Dillion scored from two yards out to give the Patriots a 21-14 lead at the start of the quarter. The Pats defense would hold the Eagles, which allowed the Pats to take a 24-14 lead on Adam Vinatieri Field Goal. However, the Eagles would not give up as they scored a long drive to get back within a Field Goal with 1:48 left in the game. After going three and out, the Patriots turned to their defense to make sure the lead stood. The clincher was a Rodney Harrison interception with nine seconds remaining sealed the 24-21 win, as the Patriots became just the second team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four years. Earning Super Bowl MVP honors would be Wide Receiver Deion Branch who tied a record with 11 receptions, several of which were on third down to keep a Patriots drive alive.
2005: After two straight Super Bowl Championships, the Patriots began to see the negative side of success as they lost both coordinators to head coaching jobs as Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel took over the Cleveland Browns, while Offensive Play Caller Charlie Weiss left to wake up the echoes in Notre Dame. The defense also took a hit a Ty Law was not re-signed while Ted Johnson retired, as Tedy Bruschi began the season with his career in doubt after suffering a mild stroke in the off-season. Despite all the losses, the Patriots had another successful kickoff to their season as they hammered the Oakland Raiders 30-20 in a primetime Thursday kickoff special. The following week the Patriots would suffer the first of many early setbacks as they were beaten 27-17 by the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXXVIII rematch. After a dramatic 23-20 road win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots would see their home winning streak come to a crashing end. They could not stop LaDainian Tomlinson, who rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-17 win for the San Diego Chargers. The Patriots would continue to alternate wins and losses over the next four games. They beat the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills but fell in games against the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts. At the same time, Tedy Bruschi made a remarkable return to the Patriots defensive unit. In the second half, the Patriots schedule would be considerably easier as five of their next six games to clinch another division championship. With nothing to play for in the season finale, the Patriots would lose to the Miami Dolphins 28-26 as back up quarterback Matt Cassel saw a bulk of the action. It was another Patriots QB that stole the headlines as Doug Flutie playing in his final game, came on to drop kick an extra point, becoming the first player to drop kick a PAT in over 60 years. In the playoffs, the 10-6 Patriots hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars, being forced to play in Wild Card Weekend for the first time since their championship run began. In the game, the Patriots looked every bit the three-time Super Bowl Champions as they overwhelmed the young Jaguars, as they turned a 7-3 at halftime into a 28-3 blowout win, as Tom Brady hooked up with Ben Watson on a 63-yard touchdown pass, while Asante Samuel 73-yard Interception Return sealed the victory. A week later, the Patriots traveled to Denver for a rematch with the Broncos, who had beaten them in Week 6. The game was a defensive struggle much of the first half as the Patriots scored first on an Adam Vinatieri 40-yard Field Goal late in the 2nd quarter. However, the Broncos would answer back with touchdown as a Kevin Faulk fumble on the Patriots 40 yard line gave the struggling Broncos new life, as Asante Samuel was called for pass interference setting up Mike Anderson’s 1-yard TD run. The Patriots would make another error as Ellis Hobbs fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, allowing the Broncos to take a 10-3 lead into halftime. Despite the misplays, the Patriots, down 10-6 late in the third quarter, had a chance to take the lead as they drove deep into Broncos territory. Tom Brady had a pass intercepted in the endzone and returned nearly all the way by Champ Bailey, but Ben Watson caught up with Bailey and stripped him of the ball just before crossing the goalline. Instead of awarding the Pats a touchback, officials ruled it went out of bounds at the one-yard line setting up another one-yard TD run by Mike Anderson as the Patriots reign would come to an end with a 27-13 loss.
2006: After falling short in their quest for a three-peat, the Patriots entered the season missing a few key pieces as Adam Vinatieri was to the Indianapolis Colts via Free Agency, while already short at receiver, the Patriots were dealing with the holdout of Deion Branch, as they were forced to trade the Super Bowl XXXVIII to the Seattle Seahawks. Despite their holes, the Patriots continued to find ways to win as they got off to a 6-1 start. After two straight losses at home to the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets, the Pats rebounded in dominant fashion shutting out the Green Bay Packers on the road 35-0. A week later, the Pats made a statement at home, beating the Chicago Bears 17-13, as they blitzed through the NFC North with a perfect 4-0 record, completing the sweep with their third straight win over the Detroit Lions. After a stunning 21-0 loss to the last place Miami Dolphins, the Patriots finished the season on a roll, winning three in a row, as they captured their fourth straight division title with a 12-4 record. In the Playoffs, the Patriots would face the Jets at Foxboro, hoping to get revenge for a November 12th loss, as former Defensive Coordinator Eric Mangini now coach of the Jets, feuded with Bill Belichick. The Patriots would use their playoff experience well as they controlled the game from the start and pulled away at the end for a 37-16 victory. A week later, they were the underdogs as they faced the San Diego Chargers, who dominated the NFL all season. The Patriots would fall behind early as the Chargers grabbed a 14-3 lead in the 2nd quarter, the Pats would make it close heading into the half as Tom Brady led a scoring drive completed with a six-yard touchdown pass to Jabar Gafney with eight seconds left. After the Pats cut the lead to 14-13 in the 3rd quarter, the Chargers turned to Ladainian Tomlinson to build a 21-13 lead in the fourth quarter. However, the Pats would not give up as Brady led a game-tying scoring drive and two-point conversion with 5:00 left. As the Patriots turned fortune into gold as Brady’s first pass was intercepted, but the ball was fumbled during the return. With the game tied despite being outplayed, the Pats would get the ball late and win the game 24-21 on a 32-yard Filed Goal by Stephen Gostkowski. In the AFC Championship Game against the Colts, the Patriots quickly quieted the Indianapolis fans as they jumped out to a 21-3 lead with Asante Samuel delivering the dagger with a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the second quarter. The Colts would start to chip away as they scored on a Vinatieri as the first half ended. In the second half, the Colts continued to come back, tying the game at 21. However, the Pats quickly retook the lead. After the Colts tied the game again at 28-28, the Pats appeared to be driving for another Touchdown when Reche Caldwell dropped a pass with nothing but the endzone in front of him. After trading field goals, the Pats took a 34-31 lead, as Ellis Hobbs set up another easy scoring drive with this second extended kickoff return of the day. After stopping the Colts on a three and out, the Patriots had a chance to clinch the game with 3:22 left. At the start of the drive, a costly penalty put the Pats in a hole as they were forced to punt the ball away. With 2:17 left, the Colts had the ball on their own 20 and would drive the ball up the field and took the lead 38-34 with 1:00 minute left. The Pats would have a chance to answer back as they began their drive with 54 seconds left on their own 21. Tom Brady would get the ball across midfield with just three plays as he tried for another magical fourth-quarter playoff drive. This time it was not meant to be as he was picked off, but Marlin Jackson with 17 seconds left, as the Colts advanced to the Super Bowl, which they would win, though many felt the real championship game had been played against the Patriots.
2007: After losing in the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots entered the season reloaded with All-Pro Adalius Thomas’s addition on defense and Randy Moss on offense. The fast and tall Moss finally gave the Patriots the deep threat receiver they lacked, to open up the offense. In comparison, the additional acquisition of Wes Welker gave Brady a third-down control receiver that could make the clutch first down. Loaded and ready for bear, the Patriots started the season by blitzing the New York Jets on the road 38-14, but the game would take a back seat as the Patriots were caught videotaping the Jets signals on the sideline. Directly warned about spying and stealing signs, the NFL would launch an investigation into the Patriots cheating as the New York Post gave them an asterisk for their win over the Jets. Eventually, the team would be fined and lose a draft pick as a defiant, unapologetic Bill Belichick used it as motivation. Instead of being distracted in their home opener, the Pats were sharper than ever as they slammed the San Diego Chargers 38-14. The trend would continue over the next few weeks as the Pats were not just winning. They were crushing their opponents, at times running up the score as their offense was setting new NFL records left and right. Scoring 34 or more points in their first five games, the Patriots did not have a competitive game until they played the Dallas Cowboys on the road in Week 6, as they trailed midway through the third quarter. However, the Pats offense found the afterburners and scored 47 points in the games final 20 minutes to beat the Cowboys 48-27. At 6-0, people seriously began to talk about the Patriots going 16-0. After destroying the Miami Dolphins 49-28 and humiliating the Washington Redskins 52-7, the Patriots faced the Indianapolis Colts in a battle of unbeaten teams. Trailing 20-10, the Patriots proved they could come back and beat just as they avenged their loss in the AFC Championship Game with a 24-20 win as Kevin Faulk scored the game-winning touchdown with 3:15 left. After the bye week, the Patriots continued to dominate, beating the Buffalo Bills 56-10 to improve to 10-0. However, the following week would not be as easy as they trailed the Philadelphia Eagles who were playing without Donovan McNabb in the fourth quarter 28-24. However, Brady and the Pats would rally again, taking the lead for good on a touchdown by Laurence Maroney as Asante Samuel, who earlier returned an interception for a touchdown, sealed the victory with a second pick off. At 11-0, the Patriots were called “The greatest team of all-time” as they were double-digit favorites each week, with sometimes colligate like lines in the 20s. A week later, on Monday night, the Pats’ unbeaten record was in serious jeopardy as they trailed the Baltimore Ravens late in the fourth quarter 24-20. Facing fourth down twice, the Pats were given a reprieve by a defensive holding call as they finally took the lead with 44 seconds left on as Tom Brady hit Jabar Gaffney in the endzone. As December rolled on, the Pats, with the division title safely in hand, concentrated on history as they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins at home to go into their final game agianst the New York Giants at 15-0. With the playoffs locked up for the Giants, many Patriots fans could buy tickets to the Meadowlands and drove their way to New Jersey to watch history be made. However, the Giants proved to be a pesky opponent, as they were in the game into the fourth quarter. However, the Pats offense was too much as Tom Brady connected with Randy Moss to set two records on one play as Brady with 50 Touchdown passes and Moss with 23 Touchdown receptions each achieved individual records the Pats. They finished 16-0 set an NFL record with 589 points as they beat the Giants 38-35. For his record, 50 touchdown passes, and leading the Patriots 16-0 season, Tom Brady received both the year’s offensive player and NFL MVP awards.
2007 Playoffs: At 16-0, the Patriots became just the second team in the Super Bowl era to finish the season undefeated, but it would all be for naught if they were beaten in the playoffs, as the 1972 Miami Dolphins were front and center, reminding everyone that a perfect season had to include a Super Bowl Championship. Facing the Jacksonville Jaguars in their first playoff game, the Patriots did not have the same explosiveness that they did in the regular season. They seemed to be playing it safe as they won 31-20 with Tom Brady playing a controlled short passing game, setting a record for best completion percentage in a postseason game 92.9% (26 for 28). Facing the San Diego Chargers the following week, the Patriots used their defense to hold off the San Diego Chargers, winning 21-12 as the Pats defense allowed just four field goals, while Wes Welker’s fourth-quarter touchdown seemed to put the game out of reach. However, the sharpness was not quite there as the Patriots appeared tight, almost not afraid to make the big mistake. However, their talent was so superior that it almost didn’t seem to matter as they became just the second team to head to the Super Bowl unbeaten.
Super Bowl XLII: As the Patriots landed in Glendale, AZ, most expected the Super Bowl to be just a coronation as they faced the New York Giants, whom they had already beaten to go 16-0. Back in Foxboro, the Pats had trademarked the phrase “19-0” books were about to hit the presses, and the lords of football seemed to be ready to move over for the Patriots, who were 12 point favorites. The game was also on the sixth anniversary of their first Super Bowl Championship in New Orleans when they stunned the St. Louis Rams, a 12-point favorite. Of course, the Spygate scandal exposed in Week 1 had not gone entirely away as a former Patriots employee claimed that the Patriots taped the Rams walk-thru. It seemed as if it were a mere annoyance as the Patriots were only focused on perfection, as the 1972 Dolphins were readying in Perfectville for their new neighbors. The Giants would win the coin toss and show signs early that they wanted to keep the Patriots record-breaking offense off the field, as they held the ball for the games first ten minutes. However, the Giants could only manage a Field Goal. The Patriots would get the ball and drive down the field themselves; only they could get it into the endzone as Laurence Maroney punched the ball in on the first play of the second quarter to give the Pats a 7-3 lead. The Giants defense would then stiffen as Tom Brady did not have his usual time in the pocket while the Pats rushing attack was flat out shutdown to 45 yards on the game, as the Patriots continued to appear to be tight, almost afraid to make the costly mistake with the pressure squarely on their backs, more then any other team had ever faced before. The Patriots defense was up to the task as the 7-3 score stood up until the fourth quarter when the Giants took the lead with 11:05 left. With Wes Welker, the control receiver tying the Super Bowl record with 11 receptions, the Patriots would drive down the field and take a 14-10 lead with 2:42 left as Tom Brady and Randy Moss connected on the go-ahead score from six yards out. Just 2:42 from history, it was all on the Patriots defense. On third down and ten, the Pats appeared to have Eli Manning under wraps. However, the Giants Quarterback managed to escape and hit David Tyree at the Patriots 25 yard line. Tyree, who was guarded by Rodney Harrison, had unbelievably caught the ball by pressing it against his helmet. If perfection were going to happen, the Patriots would have to battle karma and the fickle finger of fate called luck. After the Giants completed another third-down conversion, the Patriots were suddenly battling the clock, and the Giants seemed to become a team of destiny. One play later, with 35 seconds left, the Patriots were down as Manning hit Plaxico Burress in the endzone with a 13-yard pass to give the Giants a stunning 17-14 lead. With the ball on their 20-yard line, the Pats needed a miracle to get down the field and tie the game, a task that got even harder when Jay Alford broke up the middle and sacked Tom Brady for an eight-yard loss. A desperate Tom Brady threw up two prayers that landed unanswered as the Giants held on to stun the Patriots 17-14, ending the quest for perfection in the most bitter agonizing way possible.
2008: Coming off their heartbreaking loss in Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots were a considerable favorite to return to the big game, focusing on winning the Lombardi Trophy, without the distraction and pressure of an unbeaten season. However, in the first quarter of the first game, the Pats hope of returning to the Super Bowl suffered a considerable blow when Quarterback Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury after being hit by safety Bernard Pollard. Backup Matt Cassel would lead the Patriots to a 17-10 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. After beating the New York Jets on the road, with Cassel, the Patriots home winning streak would come to an end as the Miami Dolphins unveiled the wildcat and had the Patriots off balance all game in a stunning 38-13 win. However, the Pats would recover to win three of their next four games, entering a key matchup with the Indianapolis Colts. The two stalwarts who are used to putting up offensive fireworks settled into a defensive struggle, as former Pats kicker Adam Vinatieri delivered the winning score on a 52 yard Field Goal to give the Colts an 18-15 victory. After a win over the Buffalo Bills, the Patriots hosted the New York Jets in a Thursday Night showdown with first place on the line. The game served as a coming-out party of Matt Cassel, who passed for 400 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss to tie the game with one second left. However, the Jets would go on to win the game 34-31. A week later, the Patriots would avenge their Week 3 loss to the Miami Dolphins with a 48-28 win over the road, but they would continue to tread water as they dropped to 7-5 after a 30-10 loss the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium. Despite playing three of their final four games on the road, the Pats would finish on a positive note, winning all four games to post an 11-5 record, as Matt Cassel proved to be a capable NFL Quarterback playing in place of the reigning MVP. However, due to a tiebreaker of better divisional record, the Dolphins won a year earlier posted a 1-15 record won the AFC East ending the Patriots five-year stranglehold. Even worse for the Pats, they would lose tiebreakers with the Baltimore Ravens and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
2009: After a long, tough rehab, quarterback Tom Brady was ready to play when the season started, allowing the Patriots to trade Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs for draft picks. When the season began, the Patriots celebrated their 50th season and the 50th anniversary of the AFL. Brady had a strong game, passing for 378 yards as the Patriots edged the Buffalo Bills 25-24 on Monday Night. A week later, he would struggle as the Patriots were stunned by the New York Jets 16-9 at the Meadowlands. However, it was just a small bump in the road, as the Patriots won six of their first eight games, with Brady topping 300 yards passing four times. In Week 10, Tom Brady would again pass for 375 yards against the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots defense would falter, blowing a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter as the Colts won 35-34 in a game marked by Coach Bill Belichick going for on 4th Down with the ball deep in their own territory late in the game to set the Colts up for the winning score. The loss would start a stretch in which the Pats lost three of their next four games. As December arrived, the Patriots got back on track with three straight wins before losing a meaningless game to the Houston Texans to end the season. The Patriots had already locked up the AFC East and were already assured of needing to play in the Wild Card game as they finished with a 10-6 record. With 4,398 yards passing, 28 touchdowns, and just 13 interceptions, Tom Brady would earn Comeback Player of the Year honors. Hosting the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs, the Patriots took an early haymaker, as Ray Rice raced down the field for an 83-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage. On their first series, Brady made a rare mistake fumbling on the Patriots 17 yard line to set the Ravens up for another score. Brady would later get picked off by Chris Carr, setting up another touchdown as the Ravens raced out to a 24-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Patriots would never recover from the bad start as the Ravens went on to win the game 33-14, handing Tom Brady and Bill Belichick their first postseason loss in Foxboro.
2010: After losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round at home, the Patriots looked at adding strength through the draft, concentrating heavily on the Tight End position by picking up Adrian Hernandez from Florida and Arizona’s Rob Gronkowski. They also helped the defense with CB Devin McCourty taken from Rutgers in the first round, and LB Brandon Spikes from Florida was picked with one of three second-round picks. The season would start successfully with a solid 38-24 win against the Cincinnati Bengals. Things looked good early in Week 2 as they held a 14-10 halftime lead on the road against the New York Jets. However, the Jets would score 18 unanswered points in the second half to win the game 28-14. The Patriots offense would begin to get rolling with a 38-30 win over the Buffalo Bills at home followed by a Monday Night 41-14 slaughter over the Miami Dolphins in South Florida, as the Pats became the first team in NFL history to have a rushing, passing, interception return, kickoff return, and blocked field goal return for a touchdown in the same game. There were some internal disputes for the Patriots, as WR Randy Moss expressed unhappiness with his Pats offense role. In response, the Patriots would deal the All-Pro to the Minnesota Vikings for a third-round draft pick. Simultaneously, the Patriots re-acquired Super Bowl XXXIX MVP Deion Branch from the Seattle Seahawks for a fourth-round selection from the Denver Broncos in an earlier trade sent Lawrence Maroney to the Broncos. In his return to Foxboro, it appeared as if Branch never left as he hooked up with Tom Brady for a touchdown early as the Patriots avenged their playoff loss by beating the Baltimore Ravens in overtime 23-20. A week later, in San Diego, the Patriots again had a 23-20 win beating the Chargers. A week later, Randy Moss returned to Foxboro with the Minnesota Vikings, but the big receiver of the game was Brandon Tate, who had a 65 yard TD connection with Tom Brady as the Pats continued to roll with a 28-18 win. The Patriots five-game winning streak would end a week later as they could not contain RB Peyton Hillis, who had over 200 yards total offense leading the Cleveland Browns to a 34-14 win. A week later, the Patriots would rebound with a 39-26 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday Night Football. Tom Brady passed for 350 yards and three touchdowns during the game, as the Steelers scored 23 cosmetic points in the fourth quarter to cover up just how dominant the Pats had played. The Patriots would continue to play strong football beating the Indianapolis Colts 31-28. Four days later, on Thanksgiving, they would themselves trailing in the middle of the third quarter. However, Tom Brady had a 79-yard touchdown pass to Deion Branch to even the score. The Pats took over in the fourth quarter, with 21 unanswered points for a 45-24 win, as Brady had another outstanding game with 341 yards and four touchdowns. This would set up a Monday Night showdown against the Jets at Foxboro. With both teams holding 9-2 records, it was clear the AFC East was on the line. It would be over early as Brady continued to scorch NFL’s defenses, passing for 326 yards with four TD passes. It was also the seventh straight game without an interception for the future Hall of Famer. In the snow in Solider Field, Brady continued to play flawless football, throwing two TD passes without an interception as the Pats beat the Chicago Bears 36-7. On Sunday Night Football, the Patriots came out sluggish against the Green Bay Packers, who were without QB Aaron Rodgers as they trailed 17-7 late in the 2nd quarter. However, they would get an unexpected boost when lineman Dan Connolly returned a squib kick 71 yards to set up a Tom Brady two-yard TD pass to Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots would win the game 31-27 as Brady hooked up with Hernandez again in the fourth quarter. The Patriots would close out the season with easy wins over the Bills and Dolphins to finish the season with a league-best record of 14-2. Tom Brady, who did not throw an interception in his final ten games, breaking Bernie Kosar’s NFL record of pass attempts without a pick, would be named Offensive Player of the Year and NFL MVP for the second time in his career as he ended the season with 3900 yards passing and 36 Touchdowns with only four interceptions.
2010 NFL Playoffs: In the playoffs, the Patriots would face the New York Jets in the Divisional Round. The Patriots looked to establish their dominance early as they had a long opening drive. However, for the first time in ten games, Tom Brady was intercepted. The Patriots would get the ball back and score first with a Field Goal. The Jets had taken the Patriots best shot early and were still standing in the second quarter, scoring twice to take a 14-3 halftime lead. The Patriots would get within three points, as Tom Brady hooked up with Alge Crumpler and added a two-point play to get within a Field Goal late in the third quarter. The Jets would respond with a touchdown of their own. The Jets defense would hold the Pats and keep them at arm’s length. As time began to slip away, the Patriots got a Field Goal by Shayne Graham, but the on-side kick was turned into a disaster for the Patriots as Antonio Cromartie returned it to the Pats 20-yard line, setting up a Shonn Greene touchdown to all but put the game away for the Jets. The Pats would get a late TD by Tom Brady to Deion Branch, but once again, the Jets recovered the on-side kick and ran out the clock for a 28-21 win to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
2011: During the lockout, which clouded the entire off-season and threatened the regular season, Patriots Owner Robert Kraft played a calming force that helped seal a new Collective Bargaining Agreement without losing any games. Sadly as the new deal was completed, Kraft lost his wife, Myra, to cancer. The Patriots would play the entire season in tribute of Myra Kraft with a patch bearing her initials on their uniforms. Hoping to add a profound threat to the Patriots offense, Pro Bowl receiver and reality star Chad Ochocinco was signed. From the start, it was a mismatch, as Ochocinco sulked at the Patriots rules that restricted him from his usual antics, as he struggled to grasp the Pats playbook. Not that it mattered in the season opener as the Patriots beat up on the Miami Dolphins 38-24 in the Monday Night Opener, as Tom Brady passed for 517 yards with four touchdowns, including a 99 yard TD pass to Wes Welker out of his endzone. Brady continued to put up substantial numbers as the Pats beat the San Diego Chargers 35-21 in their home opener a week later. A week later, the Patriots offense continued to roll as they jumped out to a 21-0 lead on the road against the Buffalo Bills. However, the Bills would battle back and stun the Patriots 34-31 as Drayton Florence returned a Brady interception 27 yards for a touchdown, ending the Patriots 15 game winning streak against the Bills. The Patriots would rebound a week later with a solid 31-19 road win over the Oakland Raiders on the road. The Patriots would return home to take on the New York Jets, taking out a measure of revenge with a 30-21. The Patriots would also beat the Dallas Cowboys 20-16, as they went into the bye week with a solid 5-1 record. Following the bye, the Patriots would suffer their second loss of the season, as the Pittsburgh Steelers beat them at Heinz Field 25-17. The Patriots’ attempt for a fourth-quarter comeback was ended when Brett Keisel knocked the ball out of Tom Brady’s hands, leading to a safety. A week later, in a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots suffered another loss to the New York Giants in the final minute, as Eli Manning connected with Jake Ballard with 19 seconds left to give the Giants a 24-20 win. The loss ended Brady’s 32-game home regular-season winning streak. Tom Brady and the Patriots would get off the matt right away as they crushed the Jets for a second time 37-16 on Sunday Night. Following easy wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, the Patriots showed why their secondary was their biggest concern. They nearly blew a 24-0 lead to the winless Indianapolis Colts, allowing three touchdowns in the fourth quarter as they held on for a 24-21 win. Following a fifth straight win over the Washington Redskins, the Patriots faced the Denver Broncos in a highly anticipated quarterback clash of Tom Brady and Tim Tebow. With a 20 point explosion in the second quarter, the Patriots would improve 11-3, beating the Broncos 41-23. The Pats would close out the season with home wins over the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills as they finished the season at 13-3, once again earning home.
2011 Playoffs: In the Divisional Playoffs, the Patriots knew they would have to get off to a fast start to avoid another quick playoff exit at home. Facing the Denver Broncos again, the Patriots scored a quick knock out as Tom Brady had five touchdowns in the first half to lead his team to a 35-7 halftime lead. Brady would add another TD as the Patriots won the game easily 45-10. Three of the touchdowns were caught by tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had become a favorite target of Brady during the season, becoming the first tight end to lead the league in TD receptions, with 18 a single-season record for tight Ends. Gronkowski also set a record for receiving yards among tight ends with 1,327. Not to be outdone, Aaron Hernandez, the Pats other dynamic tight end, had 910 receiving yards with nine touchdowns during the regular season. In the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots would face the Baltimore Ravens. The game would be a struggle from the start, as the two teams traded the lead several times, with the Ravens holding a 20-16 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Along the way, the Patriots lost Rob Gronkowski to an ankle injury when he was tackled by Bernard Pollard, the same player who hurt Tom Brady’s knee in 2008. The Patriots would claw their way back in front thanks to a one-yard touchdown run by Brady. The Ravens would not go down without a fight as Sterling Moore swatted the ball out of Lee Evans’ hands in the endzone. Had the ball been caught, the Ravens would have taken the lead with 11 seconds left. Instead, they attempted to force overtime, but Billy Cundiff’s Field Goal attempt sailed wide left as the Patriots held on to win 23-20 and advance to Super Bowl XLVI.
Super Bowl XLVI: Facing the New York Giants again in Indianapolis, the Patriots Super Bowl began in the most inauspicious way possible. Tom Brady was called for grounding in the endzone on their first play from scrimmage, giving the Giants a quick 2-0 lead. The Giants would score on the ensuing possession to take a 9-0 lead. The Patriots would bounce back to a take a 10-9 lead into the half, as Tom Brady connected with Danny Woodhead on a four-yard pass with 15 seconds left in the half. The Patriots lead would grow to 17-9 as Tom Brady and Aaron Hernandez connected on a 12-yard Touchdown to culminate the first possession of the second half. The Giants would get two field goals to cut the lead to 17-15 entering the fourth quarter. Tom Brady made a critical mistake in the fourth quarter with a chance to put the game away, having a pass picked off by Chase Blackburn at the Giants eight-yard line. While the Giants did not score on the next possession, it ended a potential scoring drive for the Patriots. The Pats would have another chance to put the game away. In another rare mistake, Brady overthrew a wide-open Wes Welker, giving the ball to Eli Manning with one more opportunity to break hearts all over New England. Like he did four years earlier, Manning drove down the field. The Patriots decided to let the Giants have a one-yard Touchdown run by Ahmad Bradshaw, hoping Tom Brady could answer back with one minute left. Brady would get the ball to midfield, but his Hail Mary pass landed just beyond the reach of a diving Rob Gronkowski as the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI 21-17.
2012: After losing in the final minutes of Super Bowl XLVI, the Patriots concentrated on improving their defense, as they as their first six picks in the NFL Draft were defensive players. Three of their rookies played a crucial role in their 34-13 season-opening win on the road against the Tennessee Titans. Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower combined for a key defensive touchdown when Jones sacked and stripped the ball away from QB, while Hightower scooped it up for a touchdown. Later in the game, Tavon Wilson would seal the game with an interception. A week later, in their home opener, the Patriots were undone by penalties as they were stunned by the Arizona Cardinals 20-18. The game appeared to be in the Pats’ hands after recovering a fumble by Cardinals RB Ryan Williams with 1:01 remaining on the 30-yard line. One play later, Danny Woodhead rumbled 30 yards for a touchdown, but a holding call on Rob Gronkowski wiped out the score, as Rob Gronkowski missed a 42 yard Field Goal as time expired. A week later, against the Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots again lost in the final seconds as Justin Tucker hit a Field Goal as time expired. The kick would be controversial as it was over the right upright, and the replacement officials ruled it to be good, even though some replays showed the call was incorrect. The Patriots appeared to be heading for a third straight loss, as they trailed the Buffalo Bills on the road 21-7 early in the second half. The Patriots exploded for 45 points in the second half as they got their offense on track with a 52-28 win, as they became just the second team in NFL history to have two players rush for 100 yards (Brandon Bolden and Stephen Ridley) and two players with 100 receiving yards in the same game (Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski). Following a solid 31-21 win over the Denver Broncos, the Patriots themselves saw a lead slip away as they were beaten by the Seattle Seahawks 24-23, as Russell Wilson hit Sidney Rice with a 46 yard TD pass. Talib would not be allowed to play right away, serving a suspension for using a banned substance. After a 29-26 overtime win over the New York Jets, the Patriots traveled to London and crushed the St. Louis Rams 45-7. Looking to improve their secondary, the Patriots acquired Aquib Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their bye week. The Patriots offense continued to find its groove with a 37-31 win over the Bills, as Talib made his debut in Week 11 against the Indianapolis Colts. Talib made an impact right away, returning a punt and an interception for touchdowns as the Pats won their fourth straight game by a score of 59-24. The Patriots continued to roll for days later as they embarrassed the Jets at the Meadowlands on Thanksgiving Night, winning 49-19, as they erupted for 21 points during a three-play 53 second stretch in the 2nd quarter. A week later, the Pats would clinch another division championship by beating the Miami Dolphins 23-16. The Patriots would get a seventh straight win on Monday Night Football as they slammed the Houston Texans 42-14 to get an edge in the race for home field in the playoffs, as Tom Brady had another four-touchdown game. The win would end up being costly, as Tight End Rob Gronkowski broke his arm during a PAT in the game’s final minutes. Playing on a chilly Sunday night, the Patriots winning streak came to an end with a 41-34 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Gillette Stadium. However, with Tom Brady throwing four Touchdown passes, the Patriots nearly made one of the great comebacks in NFL history as they rallied to tie the game in the 4th Quarter 31-31 after trailing 31-10. The Pats could not solve QB Colin Kaepernick, who quickly took back the lead for the Niners. The Pats would win the final two games of the season, beating the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins to finish with 12-4.
2012 Playoffs: Facing the Houston Texans, the Patriots again took advantage of the Texans’ aggressive blitz defense as Tom Brady passed for 344 yards with three touchdowns, as the Pats returned to the AFC Championship Game with a 41-28 win. The win was the 17th career playoff win for Tom Brady, breaking the old record held by Joe Montana. During the game, TE Rob Gronkowski, who returned in the final regular-season game, re-injured his arm and was lost for the postseason’s remainder. In the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots would host the Baltimore Ravens for the second year in a row, after the Ravens scored a classic overtime upset of the top seed Denver Broncos. As usual, the Patriots got all they could handle from the Ravens as they held a small halftime lead of 13-7. The Ravens would take the lead in the second as Joe Flacco connected with Dennis Pitta on a five-yard pass. The Patriots offense suddenly stalled as the coughed up the ball three times, including two interceptions thrown by Tom Brady. The Ravens lead would grow to 21-13 after a fumble by Stephen Ridley off a big hit from Patriots nemesis Bernard Pollard. The Ravens would add another score as they went on to win the game 28-13, as they went on to win the Super Bowl.
2013: Following their AFC Championship Game loss, the Patriots endured a tough off-season, as they failed to re-sign Wes Welker. Meanwhile, their All-Pro duo at Tight End fell apart, as lingering issues from his arm injury led to more surgery for Rob Gronkowski, who also needed back surgery to repair a herniated disk. The Pats would later be forced to release Aaron Hernandez after being arrested and charged with first-degree murder. The Patriots began the season against the Buffalo Bills. Despite jumping out to a 10-0 lead against a rookie quarterback, Tom Brady and the Patriots needed to scratch and claw their way as they trailed 21-17 after three quarters. In the end, Brady and the Pats found a way; with a pair of Stephen Gostkowski field goals, the Patriots would win their tenth straight season opener 23-21. Four days later, the Patriots hosted the New York Jets in a Thursday night home opener. The offense remained out of sync as Brady completed just 19 of 39 passes with several drops along the way. However, they found a way to win again 13-10. Against Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Pats offense got off to a slow start again, but Tom Brady connected with rookie Kenbrell Thompkins for two touchdowns in the second quarter to a 23-3 win. The Patriots offense finally got on track in Week 4, with a 30-23 road win against the Atlanta Falcons, as Brady passed 316 yards with a pair of TDs. However, the big play came when LeGarrette Blount delivered a 47-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. A week later, the Patriots offense would hit a wall, as Tom Brady did not throw a touchdown pass for the first time in 52 games, two games short of the record held by Drew Brees. All afternoon Tom Brady was pressured and sacked four times. Trailing 13-6, the Pats had a chance to tie the game on the Bengals 27-yard line, but Brady had a pass picked off to end the game in driving rain. Returning home, Brady would face Brees and the New Orleans Saints and found themselves trailing late in the game again, this time they would pull out a dramatic win as Tom Brady led a 68-yard drive in the final 73 seconds with no time outs connecting with Kenbrell Thompkins on a 17 yard TD pass with five seconds left to win the game 30-27. Against the Jets at the Meadowlands, the Patriots appeared to be cursing for another win as they led 21-10 at the half. However, Tom Brady had a pass picked off early in the third quarter, allowing the Jets to rally and take a 27-21 lead. The Pats would force overtime, but the Jets would win the game 30-27 after a controversial unsportsmanlike penalty. Jets kicker Nick Folk attempted a 56 yard Field Goal that was no good, but he got another chance as Chris Jones was called for pushing his teammate into the offensive line. Given another shot, Folk won the game with a 42-yard kick. A week later, the Patriots came out flat against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium but rallied behind superior special teams play and defense, forcing three crucial turnovers in a 27-17 win. A week later, the Patriots offense had a breakout game, as they embarrassed the Pittsburgh Steelers 55-31 at Heinz Field. Tom Brady passed for 432 yards, with four touchdowns, as Rob Gronkowski, in his third game back, appeared to shake off the rush, with 143 yards and a TD catch, while Stevan Ridley rushed for 115 yards with two scores. Following a bye week, the Patriots found themselves in a Monday Night thriller against the Carolina Panthers. The game would go back and forth, as the Patriots held a 20-17 lead late in the fourth quarter. The Panthers would win the game 24-20 on a Cam Newton TD pass to Ted Ginn Jr with 59 seconds left. The Pats did have a chance to win the game, but Brady was picked off on the game’s final play, as officials waiver off a potential pass interference call against Luke Kuechly. A week later, the Pats faced another test, hosting the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night. The first half was a nightmare for New England, as the Broncos dominated, taking a 24-0 lead. However, the Patriots came storming back in the second half, scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter with the wind at their back. The Patriots continued the momentum, taking the lead on a pass from Brady to Julian Edelman in the fourth quarter, adding a Stephen Gostkowski field goal to take a 31-24 lead. The Broncos would rally and tie the score to force overtime. In overtime, with the wind being a big factor, the Patriots elected to defend after neither team scored on their two possessions. The winds helped decide the game, as Tony Carter muffed Ryan Allen’s punt, setting up the Patriots in perfect field position as Gostkowski won the game 34-31 with a 31-yard boot. Facing the Houston Texans the following week, the Patriots looked to be suffering a hangover as they fell behind 17-7 at the half. Once again, the Patriots would rally in the second half, as Tom Brady passed 371 yards in a second straight 34-31 win. The slow starts continued in Week 14 against the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium, as they spent much of three quarters struggling to move the ball. After finally getting on the board with a Gostkowski Field Goal, the Browns again landed a haymaker with an 80-yard TD pass from Jason Campbell to Josh Gordon to build a 19-3 lead. Making matters worse, the Patriots lost Tight End Rob Gronkowski to a season-ending knee injury. However, the Pats again found a way as Shane Vereen scored at the end of the quarter to get them back in the game, with Brady and Edleman completing a two-point conversion. In the fourth quarter, things remained bleak as they only managed a Gostkowski field goal before the Browns appeared to put the game out of reach with another TD pass by Campbell. Down 26-14 with 2:39 left, Brady took advantage of the Browns prevent defense, found Edelman in the endzone with 1:01 left to make the score 26-21. With no time outs, the Pats needed to recover the onside kick and did. Taking advantage of a pass interference call, the Patriots quickly drove the ball down the field. They took a 27-26 lead on a TD pass to Danny Amendola. The Browns needed to sweat out a Billy Cundiff 58 yard FG attempt to hold on for the improbable win with the two-point drive failing. The win was the tenth of the season, marking their 11th straight season with ten or more wins. After a back and forth battle with the Dolphins in Miami, Brady and the Pats trailed late the following week. Down 24-20, Brady had a potential game-winning pass picked off in the endzone with seven seconds left. The loss prevented them from clinching the AFC East, but a week later, they would do it as they took revenge against the Baltimore Ravens with a 41-7 win. Highlighting the win was a pair of defensive scores. The Patriots would finish the season with a record of 12-4, beating the Bills 34-20 as LaGarrette Blount had a breakout performance rushing for 189 yards and two touchdowns, and added 145 yards on two kickoff returns for a total of 334 all-purpose yards on the day.
2013 Playoffs: In the Divisional Playoff Round, the Patriots would face the Indianapolis Colts. Continuing the momentum from his game against the Bills, LaGarrette Blount got the Patriots on the board early with a pair of touchdowns in the 1st quarter. Blount would add another in the 2nd quarter as the Patriots won the game with their running game. Despite four interceptions, the Colts would not go down without a fight as the Patriots held a 29-22 lead entering the final 15 minutes. Once again, it would be Blount who delivered the knockout blow, scoring on a 73-yard run, for a game-high 166 yards, as Stevan Ridley added two scores of his own to send the Patriots to the AFC Championship Game for a third straight season with a score of 43-22. In the AFC Championship, the Patriots would face the Broncos and Peyton Manning again, as they left the Eastern Time Zone for just the second time during the season. Like they did in the regular-season matchup, the Broncos dominated the field in the first half taking a 13-3 lead. This time the Patriots would not come out in the second half and turn things around, as Manning passed for 400 yards as the Broncos expanded the lead to 23-3 at the start of the 4th quarter. Brady would get the Patriots into the endzone with a seven-yard pass to Julian Edelman, but the Broncos just would not be denied as the moved the ball at will. The Pats would add a late score, but there were no miracles to be had as the Broncos won the game 26-16 to reach Super Bowl XLVIII.
2014: After losing to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship, the New England Patriots looked to improve their defense by upgrading their secondary, which included the acquisition of shutdown corner Darrelle Revis along with Safety Brandon Browner. The Patriots would also bring back Patrick Chung, who the Patriots missed sorely in 2013. With the mantra from Coach Bill Belichick “Finish the Job,” the Patriots began the season on the road against the Miami Dolphins. However, it was a job not well done as the Patriots lost their season opener for the first time in 11 years, 33-20 as the Dolphins scored 23 unanswered points in the second half and sacked Tom Brady four times. The Patriots were much more potent in Week 2, thumping the Minnesota Vikings 30-7 as they picked off former Brady backup Matt Cassel four times. The Pats would win again in their home opener a week later, but a lackluster 16-9 win over the lowly Oakland Raiders had some fans concerned. That concern would grow in Week 4, as Tom Brady had one of the worst games of his career in a 41-14 Monday Night loss on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. The media even began to question if Tom Brady was over the hill at 37 years old. At 2-2, coach Bill Belichick refused to answer the many questions surrounding his team, repeating, “We’re on to Cincinnati” repeatedly. Instead, the Patriots answered the field’s questions with a dominant 43-17 Sunday Night win over the Bengals, with Tom Brady and the Patriots offense collecting 505 yards total offense. Following division wins over the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, the Patriots hit their stride in Week 8 with a 51-23 win over the Chicago Bears. Tom Brady had five touchdowns, erasing all questions that surrounded him four weeks earlier. Brady and the Patriots would extend their winning streak to five straight, while exacting revenge against the Broncos in Week 9, with a 43-21 win that served notice that the road to the Super Bowl would go through Foxboro. Following a bye week, the Patriots got a big game from little know Jonas Gray to crush the Indianapolis Colts 42-20 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Gray rushed for 201 yards with four touchdowns as the Patriots improved to 8-2. The Patriots continued their roll in Week 12, with a 34-9 win over the Detroit Lions, with Tim Wright and LeGarrette Blount each scoring twice. The Patriots winning streak would end at seven, with a 26-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, as the Patriots were unable to overcome a slow start. The Patriots would also get off to a slow start in Week 14 on the road against the San Diego Chargers, trailing 14-3 early in the second quarter after Brandon LaFell’s fumble led to a 53-yard fumble return touchdown by Darrell Stuckey. The Patriots defense would not allow the Chargers to add to the lead. Eventually, Tom Brady took over in the fourth quarter hooking up with Julian Edelman on a 69-yard pass play to seal a 23-14 win, which clinched the Patriots 12th straight ten-win season. A week later, the Patriots would clinch their sixth consecutive AFC East Championship by avenging their season-opening loss to the Dolphins 41-13. Kyle Arrington set the tone early by returning a blocked Field Goal 62 yards for a touchdown. The Patriots would have the home-field advantage locked up in their final two games as they survived a scare against the Jets and rested their starters in a loss to the Bills to finish the season with a record of 12-4. Tom Brady, who was called washed up in Week 4, had another All-Pro season with 4,109 yards pass and 33 touchdowns. A big boost came from Rob Gronkowski, the NFL’s comeback player of the year, returning to All-Pro level with a team-high 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. Also, having big seasons was Brandon LaFell, who had 953 receiving yards with nine scores. Simultaneously, Julian Edelman was the team’s indispensable third-down receiver with 972 yards, many of which netted the Patriots a first down.
2014 Playoffs: In the playoffs, the Patriots would host the Baltimore Ravens, who two seasons earlier stunned the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game. Once again, the Patriots would have their hands full with the Ravens, as they trailed early in the third quarter 28-14. The Ravens were getting a big game from Joe Flacco, as the Patriots rushing game had been bogged down, turning the pressure on Tom Brady. Brady would get the Pats back in the game by completing a long drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots would then use trickery to even the score as Brady threw a lateral to Julian Edelman, who, in turn, completed a 51-yard pass to Danny Amendola. Edelman, who played quarterback at Kent State, looked as polished as Tom Brady himself on the pass down the sidelines. The Ravens would respond and dive to the Patriots ten-yard line but were forced to settle for a Field Goal. This was all Tom Brady needed as he had his third touchdown of the game with a 23-yard pass to Brandon LaFell. Leading 35-31, the Patriots turned aside from the Ravens last threat as Duron Harmon picked off Joe Flacco in the endzone to seal the Patriots’ fourth straight appearance in the AFC Title Game. The AFC Championship Game was never in doubt as the Patriots dominated the Indianapolis Colts for a second time 45-7. Once again, the Patriots seldom-used running game slashed the Colts all game, as LaGarrette Blount rushed for 148 yards with three scores. Brady was also strong with 226 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. It would be that lone interception in the second quarter that soon would become the story as the Patriots prepared for Super Bowl XLIX. Upon picking off Tom Brady, Colts Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson had noticed the ball was underinflated. An investigation would ensue. It would be discovered that sometime between the officials approving the ball of game use and the start of the game, the air had been illegal let out of the ball, once again tarnishing the Patriots’ reputation and earning the label of being cheaters.
Super Bowl XLIX: As the Patriots prepared to face the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks in Arizona, the scandal which had earned the name “Deflategate” had become the story of Super Bowl week, as evidence showed that Tom Brady himself was involved in letting the air out of the footballs. Brady’s earlier interview had demonstrated that he preferred to hold balls that were smaller and had less air. Some even suggested that the Patriots quarterback should be suspended for the Super Bowl, as the NFL remained silent, hoping the story would go away. When the game finally began, it was clear the Patriots and Seahawks were evenly matched, as the two teams traded scores in the second quarter and went into halftime tied 14-14. The Seahawks would take control of the game in the third quarter, with Doug Baldwin catching a Russell Wilson touchdown pass to give Seattle a 24-14 lead which they would hold until midway through the fourth when Tom Brady found Danny Amendola in the endzone for his third touchdown of the game. After the Seahawks went three and out, Brady facing second and 11, made a pivotal pass to Rob Gronkowski to jumpstart a ten-play 64-yard drive, which ended with a three-yard pass from Brady to Julian Edelman that gave the Patriots a 28-24 lead. However, with 2:02 left, the Seahawks had plenty of time to answer. With 1:13 left, Jermaine Kearse made a circus catch at the New England five reminding the Patriots of David Tyree’s catch on the same field in Super Bowl XLII. Time was ticking away. The Seahawks were at the one, and there was nothing Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, or anybody else on the New England sideline could do as Marshawn Lynch moved the ball down to the one-yard line. Second and one, under 30 seconds, left the Seahawks poised on the goal line of a second straight Super Bowl when their coach made the most questionable play call in Super Bowl history, choosing a risky pass over the middle QB sneak or a one-yard run. The ball would be batted up and land in the arms of Malcolm Butler, who sealed the Patriots fourth Super Bowl win, as Tom Brady became the second quarterback to win three Super Bowl MVPs, with 328 yards and four touchdown passes.
Deflategate: The fall out of the use of illegally deflated footballs continued into the off-season, as the league conducted an investigation led by noted attorney Ted Wells. The investigation concluded that Patriots equipment personnel were deliberately circumventing the rules. As a result, the Patriots were fined $1 million and lost their first-round pick in the 2016 NFL draft and their fourth-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft. The most significant punishment was handed to Tom Brady, who was given a four-game suspension at the start of the 2015 season. The investigation revealed that Brady had communicated via text message with Patriots locker-room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski dating back a year, describing how to deflate footballs and exchange gifts. Tom Brady was additionally defiant and had not cooperated with the investigation destroying his cellphone, which the league had wished to examine.
2015: After winning their fourth Super Bowl, the New England Patriots hopes of a Lombardi Trophy got a boost when a Federal District Court overturned Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. The NFL announced plans to appeal the decision, but any hearing was not to be scheduled during the season, allowing Brady to play the entire 16 game schedule. In the Thursday Night NFL opener at Gillette Stadium, Tom Brady threw for 288 yards with four touchdowns as the Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-21. Brady was just as impressive a week later, throwing for 466 yards with three touchdowns as the Patriots held off a late rally to beat the Buffalo Bills 40-32. Almost as if they were playing with a Plymouth Rock sized chip on their shoulders, the Patriots continued to run up and down the field at will in Week 3 in Foxboro, slamming the Jacksonville Jaguars 51-17, as Tom Brady passed for 358 yards with two touchdowns. Following a bye week, the Patriots continued their terrific start beating the Dallas Cowboys on the road 30-6. Brady had two touchdown passes, including a 59-yard connection with Julian Edelman and TD on a quarterback sneak. In an AFC Championship rematch with the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football, the Patriots took the best shot the Colts had and trailed at the half 21-20. The Patriots took control with Rob Gronkowski, scoring on a 25-yard pass in the third quarter in the second half. Later, LeGarrette Blount, on an 11-yard pass from Tom Brady, scored his second touchdown of the game, which ended up being the difference as the Patriots continued to dominate the Colts 34-27 win. Returning home, the Patriots faced their toughest challenge to date, as they trailed the New York Jets 20-16 in the fourth quarter. However, with touchdown receptions by Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots rallied to win the game 30-23 and improved to 6-0. A week later, the Patriots would have a much easier win, beating the Miami Dolphins 36-7 at Gillette Stadium as Tom Brady continued to put up MVP type stats with 356 yards and four touchdowns. Following a 27-10 win over the Washington Redskins, the Patriots traveled to the Meadowlands for a game against the New York Giants, who had won three straight games over the Patriots, including two Super Bowls. The game would see-saw back and forth with Tom Brady and Eli Manning each passing for over 300 yards. In the fourth quarter, the Patriots grabbed a 24-23 lead on a 76-yard pass play from Brady to Gronkowski. The Giants appeared to have answered late once again when Odell Beckham caught an Eli Manning pass in the endzone, but on replay, it was ruled the reception was no completed under the NFL’s complex rules. The Giants would still take the lead on a Field Goal by Josh Brown, but given 1:47, Tom Brady was able to drive the ball and win the game 27-26 as Stephen Gostkowski hit a 54-yard Field Goal with one second left on the clock. Returning home the Patriots, clinched their 13th straight ten-win season by beating the Bills 20-13. At 10-0, the Patriots had aspirations of another 16-0 regular season as they prepared to face the Denver Broncos in a Sunday Night showdown in the snow. However, the usual Brady-Manning showdown was not part of the docket, as Peyton Manning was sidelined with a foot injury. The Patriots appeared to be well on their way to another win as Tom Brady’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Bolden on the fourth quarter’s first play gave them a 21-7 lead. Brock Osweiler would lead the Broncos back, scoring the next 17 points to give Denver a 24-21 lead with 69 seconds left. Tom Brady would answer, getting the Patriots in position for a 47 yard Field Goal by Stephen Gostkowski to force overtime. In overtime, the Patriots would win the coin toss, but went three and out, as the Broncos won the game 30-24 on a 48-yard run by C.J. Anderson. Returning home, the Patriots would suffer a second straight loss as they were stunned by the Philadelphia Eagles 35-28. The game started well for New England as they scored the first 14 points of the game. However, things began to unravel as the Eagles blocked a punt and tied the game with eight seconds left if the first half. Tom Brady made a rare mistake in the third quarter as he had an interception returned 99 yards for a touchdown. After being unable to answer the score, the Patriots made another special teams blunder, allowing Darren Sproles to take a punt back 83 yards. The Eagles would eventually go up 35-14 in the first quarter as the Patriots scored the game’s final 14 points. After two straight losses, the Patriots would clinch their record-tying seventh straight division title by beating the Houston Texans 27-6. Following a 33-16 win over the Tennessee Titans, the Patriots just needed a win in their final two games to lock up the playoffs’ home field. With losses to the Jets and Dolphins on the road, the Patriots at 12-4 finished tied with the Broncos and had only managed the second seed due to their earlier loss in Denver. Tom Brady had another fantastic season, passing for 4,770 yards with 36 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Rob Gronkowski was a force again with 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Julian Edelman, despite missing the last seven games, had a career-best seven touchdowns.
2015 Playoffs: The New England Patriots would face the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round. Their offense got a boost as Julian Edelman returned from a foot injury, but the Patriots still were desperate to find a running game to add balance to their offensive attack. Injuries decimated the Patriots running game and the offensive line. Hoping for lightning in a bottle, the Patriots signed veteran Stephen Jackson late in the season, but he proved to be of little help. The Chiefs gave the Patriots all they could handle in Foxboro, but with Tom Brady passing for 302 yards and two touchdowns, the Pats were on their way to the AFC Championship for a fifth straight season with a 27-20 win. The Patriots would face the Denver Broncos with a trip to Super Bowl 50 on the line at Mile High. Unlike their regular-season matchup, Peyton Manning was in the lineup setting Brady vs. Manning for the 17th time, including five playoff matchup, four of which were in the AFC Championship. Peyton Manning drew first blood, connecting with Owen Daniel on a 21-yard pass midway through the first quarter. The Patriots would answer on a run by Stephen Jackson after Manning’s pass was ruled a backward lateral. However, the Broncos stayed in front as Stephen Gostkowski missed the extra point. Patriots Coach Bill Belichick had been instrumental in the off-season in getting the league to make the PAT more difficult by moving it back 15 yards. Gostkowski was perfect all year before the miss in Denver, as the league reached its goal of making the PAT more difficult. Manning led the Broncos down the field again and connected with Daniel for a second score in the second quarter. The Patriots and Broncos would trade Field Goals over the next two quarters, as the Broncos held a 20-12 lead late in the fourth quarter. It had been a rough day for Tom Brady as the Broncos top-rated defense was able to put pressure on him all game. Brady was sacked four times and knocked down 20 times, with two interceptions. Like all champions, Tom Brady got up each time and looked for another big comeback win as he drove the Patriots down the field in the game’s final minutes. Facing fourth and ten at midfield, Brady connected with Julian Edelman for a 40-yard pass to get down to the Denver 10-yard line. Brady faced fourth down again three plays later and also converted, finding Rob Gronkowski in the endzone with 12 seconds left. However, due to Stephen Gostkowski’s missed PAT, the Patriots needed two to tie the game and force overtime. The two-point try would fail as Tom Brady was picked off by Bradley Roby, allowing the Broncos to hold on to a 20-18 win. As the players shook hands following the game, Peyton Manning revealed to Tom Brady he would retire after the Super Bowl. In 17 meetings between the two biggest stars of the era, Brady had an 11-6 advantage over Manning. However, it had become more competitive in recent years, as the Patriots won the first six meetings. Peyton Manning meanwhile won three of five postseason matchups, all three wins by Peyton Manning were in AFC Championship Games.
2016: As the New England Patriots began the season, they knew the first four games would be critical to their success, as the U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated Tom Brady’s four-game deflategate suspension. They would also be without Rob Ninkovich, who was suspended for using a banned substance. Opening the season on Sunday Night Football, the Patriots won a battle of the previous year’s runner ups, beating the Arizona Cardinals on the road 23-21 as Jimmy Garoppolo playing in Brady’s place a solid game passing for 264 yards with a touchdown. Garoppolo was even better in the home opener, passing for 232 yards with three touchdowns before suffering a shoulder injury late in the second quarter. The Patriots would go on to beat the Miami Dolphins 31-24, holding off a furious Miami comeback. With Jimmy Garoppolo sidelined for Week 3, Jacoby Brissett got the start in a Thursday Night Game in Foxboro against the Houston Texans. Brissett scored a 27-yard run for his first NFL touchdown, as the Patriots blanked the Texans 27-0. During the win, Jacoby Brissett suffered a thumb injury, leaving the Patriots without a healthy quarterback as they hosted the Buffalo Bills in Week 4. Without a healthy quarterback, Bill Belichick considered starting Julian Edelman but eventually turned to Brissett, who had trouble even gripping the football. The result was not pretty as the Patriots were shutout for the first time in a decade and the first time at home since 1993, losing 16-0. Finding a healthy quarterback would not be an issue in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns, as Tom Brady returned from his suspension and was nearly flawless passing for 406 yards with three touchdowns as the Pats beat the Browns 33-13. Brady was almost as good in his home debut, passing for 376 yards with three touchdowns in a 35-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Brady passed for 222 yards at Heinz Field with a pair of touchdowns as the Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-16 to improve to 6-1. The Patriots would avenge their only loss a week later when they shuffled up to Buffalo and shredded the Bills 41-25 as Tom Brady continued to put up MVP numbers, with 315 yards and four touchdowns. Following the bye week, the Patriots returned home to face the Seattle Seahawks for the first time since Super Bowl XLIX. Brady was held without a touchdown for the first time, as the Seahawks won the Sunday Night showdown 31-24 as a late game-tying drive ended when Rob Gronkowski was unable to come up with a first down catch deep in Seattle territory. Following the loss, Tom Brady played his first game ever on the road against the San Francisco 49ers, passing for 280 yards with four touchdowns, highlighted by a 56-yard hook up with Malcolm Mitchell to win the game 30-17. A week later, the Patriots found themselves in a surprising struggle against the New York Jets at the Meadowlands. Down 17-13 early in the fourth quarter, the Patriots won the game 22-17 as Tom Brady connected with Mitchell on an eight-yard score just after the two-minute warning. Returning home, the Patriots clinched their 14th straight ten-win season beating the Los Angeles Rams 26-10. A week later, Tom Brady had one of his best games, passing for 406 yards with three touchdowns to beat the Baltimore Ravens in a Monday Night showdown. A week later, the Patriots returned to Denver for the first time since the AFC Championship Game. This all but ended the Broncos playoff hopes, winning a defensive struggle 16-3 to clinch another division title. The Patriots would close the season with wins over the Jets and Dolphins to finish at 14-2 with the best record in the NFL. Tom Brady finished the season with 3,554 yards with 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions, the best NFL history ratio. LeGarrette Blount was the Patriots unsung hero with a team-best 18 touchdowns.
2016 Playoffs: With home field again, the New England Patriots, in the customary Saturday Night Divisional Playoff game, faced the Houston Texans. The Texans defense roughed up Tom Brady, who matched his regular-season total by throwing a pair of interceptions. However, the Patriots grabbed an early 14-3 lead thanks to a 98-yard kickoff return by Dion Lewis. Still, New England had a tough time shaking off the pesky Texans as they held a slim 17-13 lead at the half. The Patriots defense would help put give Houston their own problems, as a trio of Rutgers alum Devin McCourty, Logan Ryan, and Duron Harmon picked off Brock Osweiler. This allowed the Patriots to pull away down and win the game 34-16. Along the way, Julian Edelman became the team’s all-time leading receiver in postseason games. The Patriots would move on to host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. One of the things that made the Patriots a superior team was that they had a different star every week. After struggling against Houston, Tom Brady shredded the Steelers, passing for 384 with three touchdowns. Receiving a bulk of Brady’s passes was Chris Hogan, who had nine catches for 180 yards with two scores as the Patriots slammed the Steelers 36-17 to advance to their seventh Super Bowl in 16 years.
Super Bowl LI: Looking for their fifth Lombardi Trophy, the New England Patriots faced the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI at Houston’s NRG Stadium. The Patriots played poorly in the first half, as Tom Brady struggled against the Falcons defense. After a scoreless first quarter, the Patriots found themselves down 21-0, with Robert Alford returned a Brady interception 82 yards for a touchdown. Tom Brady would shake off the interception and took the Patriots down the field quickly to set up Stephen Gostkowski for a 41-yard Field Goal as the first half came to a close with New England down 21-3. After halftime, the Falcons remained in control, scoring midway through the third quarter to take a 28-3 lead. Previously the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history was ten points done twice, and both deficits were in the first half. As the third quarter was winding down, the Patriots finally seemed to get their offense on track as James White, who played a significant role in the drive, caught a five-yard pass from Tom Brady to start what would become the best comeback in Super Bowl history. Though, there were still some potholes along the way as Gostkowski missed the extra point. As the Falcons offense stalled, the Patriots continued to chip away at the Falcons lead as Stephen Gostkowski hit a 33-yard Field Goal with 9:44 left. Still, down 28-12, the Patriots needed a big break, as time was starting to run out in the fourth quarter. That break finally came when Dont’a Hightower stripped Matt Ryan on a sack, with Allan Branch recovering the ball to give the Patriots the ball at the Falcons 25-yard line. Brady and the Patriots quickly cashed in on the new life as Danny Amendola caught a six-yard touchdown pass to cap a five-play drive. James White would add a two-point conversion, and suddenly it was a one-score game with 5:56 remaining. Looking to answer back, the Falcons got the ball deep into Patriots territory. A 12-yard sack and a holding penalty pushed them back to midfield, keeping hope alive on the New England sideline. Down 28-20, and starting at their own nine, Tom Brady cemented his place among the best quarterbacks of all-time, as he needed ten plays and just 2:33 to put the Patriots in the end zone, as James White scored from the one-yard line. One of the key plays was a Julian Edelman battling three defenders to make a diving catch just an inch off the ground. Making the catch more incredible is that he first smacked the ball out of an Atlanta defender to avoid a game-sealing interception. After White’s touchdown, Tom Brady completed the comeback by connection with Amendola on a two-point conversion to even the score 28-28 with 58 seconds left. The stunned Falcons were unable to do anything in the final minute as the game went to overtime. It was the first time that a Super Bowl went to overtime, and the Patriots, with all the momentum, won the right to receive the ball first by calling heads on the coin toss. It would take just eight plays for the Patriots to drive 75 yards as James White scored a two-yard dive into the end zone to win the game 34-28. Tom Brady won a record fourth Super Bowl MVP for completing the comeback for the ages, passing for 466 yards with two touchdowns. Perhaps the real MVP was James White, who made several critical first downs while accounting for 139 All-Purpose Yards, with three touchdowns and a crucial two-point conversion. As the Patriots celebrated, they took extra pleasure in receiving the Lombardi Trophy from Roger Goodell. For Bill Belichick, it was his fifth Super Bowl title and seventh overall, both of which are records. Proving how hot the Patriots have become, a Mexican journalist’s property stole Tom Brady’s jersey leading to an international hunt to recover it for the Hall of Fame.
2017: The perennial Super Bowl contender New England Patriots were geared for another deep run heading into the 2017 season, coming off their fifth Super Bowl win, which featured a historic comeback from down 28-3. However, early losses to Julian Edelman (IR), Derek Rivers (IR), Shea McClellin (IR), and Rob Ninkovich (ret.) left some questions on how the team would perform fresh off their improbable SBLI 25 point comeback. Those murmurs weren’t alleviated in Week 1 with a 42-27 home waxing by the Kansas City Chiefs on the NFL opening game and the emergence of rookie sensation Kareem Hunt (246 total yards, three touchdowns), though newly acquired Mike Gillislee found the end zone 3 times. However, they’d respond in New Orleans with a decisive 36-20 over the Saints in Week 2 win led by Tom Brady’s 447 yards and three touchdown game after not throwing any in week 1. Week 3 wasn’t nearly as decisive a victory as it took a Brady to Cooks 25-yard toe-tapping touchdown pass (as it was ruled) along the sideline (Brady’s 5th touchdown of the game) with 23 seconds left to re-secure the lead and eventual win at 36-33. Next week, the Patriots would find themselves back to .500 for the last time for the season after a 33-30 shootout loss against the Carolina Panthers that saw Cam Newton outplay Brady at 22/29 for 316/3/1 to Brady’s 32/45 for 307/2/0. At this point in the season, fans and experts were legitimately concerned about this team’s defense as they were among the worst in the league in most metrics and both Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore looked lost. Leave it to the Hooded One (Belichick) to find a solution, though, as the team wouldn’t give up more than 28 the rest of the regular season and responded to their second loss by stymieing Tampa on TNF in a defensive duel 19-14. In a game that saw both teams total over 400 yards of offense, Stephen Gostowski’s boot and 5 FG would overcome Jameis and the Bucs. With a redefined offense, the Pats would then ride Gronk’s 6/83/2 game to a 24-17 victory at the Meadowlands over the Jets with a little help from Seferian-Jenkins goal-line fumble touchback. That trend would continue on a foggy Sunday Night Super Bowl rematch against the Atlanta Falcons. Only this time, the Falcons wouldn’t get the chance to try to eat the clock as their only points came at 4:09 left in the game via Julio Jones touchdown as the Patriots silenced Atlanta 23-7 on the back of another two-touchdown week from Brady. Week 6 got off to a shaky start as the newly-found stout defense let Melvin Gordon break for an 87-yard touchdown for the game’s first points. The Patriots were able to respond with a Brady to Gronk connection and four Steven Gostowski Field Goals and a safety later, the team was heading into their bye at 6-2. Coming out of their bye, the Patriots looked to keep the ball rolling on a four-game win streak but playing in another Sunday Night Football game, this time in Denver. Luckily, they didn’t have as much trouble as years past, as they steamrolled Denver 41-16with contributions from the Running Back brain trust as Burkhead and White both caught passing touchdowns and Dion Lewis ran one in and tacking on another with a 103-yard kickoff return. Coming off SNF, the Patriots went to Mexico and thrashed the Raiders 33-8 as Brady had his second straight game of three touchdown passes, and the Patriots won six in a row. They’d go on to top those numbers in week 12, squishing the fish in Miami 35-17 as Brady tossed for four touchdowns, Gronk catching two of them, while Rex Burkhead went ground and air for his two touchdowns respectively. Not to slow down the train, the Patriots welcomed the Bills into Foxborough week 13 and allowed only three points as they cruised on two more Rex Burkhead touchdowns (rushing) to a 23-3 win. However, week 14 brought Miami back with revenge in mind while stopping the winning streak at eight games, picking off Brady for his only multi-interception game of the year. In a foreshadowing of a potential playoff matchup, the Patriots went to Pittsburgh and picked up the win 27-24 as Big Ben tossed an interception to Duron Harmon. This was not without their third controversial catch-rule game-altering play as Jesse James lost control of the ball as he dove for the end zone for Pittsburgh only two plays earlier. The Patriots improved their 11-3 AFC leading record to 12-3 against Buffalo 37-16 with Dion Lewis punching in two touchdowns. In a less contentious fashion than their Week 6 win at the Jets, the Patriots wrapped up the regular season by only giving New York two field goals all game in a 26-6 home defeat. Dion Lewis continued his late-season tear, going with another two touchdowns by ground and air. The Patriots claimed home field and positioned themselves again to make a legitimate shot for the Super Bowl. We saw Dion Lewis rack up 1,110 yards and nine touchdowns, the Running Back platoon of Gillislee, Burkhead, and White combined for another 1,516 yards and 16 more touchdowns. Brandin Cooks seemed worth the 31st overall pick NE traded for him, amassing 1,122 yards and seven touchdowns of his own while Gronkowski saw a stat line of 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns of his own. All of this came off the MVP season of a 40-year-old Tom Brady who built a resume of 4,577 yards, 32 touchdowns, and eight interceptions on 385/581 completions/passing attempts and a 102.8 rating, showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. It was his third MVP award and first since 2010.
Written by Kyle Pellerin
2017 NFL Playoffs: The Patriots march to Super Bowl LII began with the Divisional Round against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans drew first blood, taking a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter with a Marcus Mariota touchdown pass. The Patriots would take over in the second quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points as James White led the way with a pair of touchdowns. Meanwhile, Tom Brady was sharp, passing with 337 yards and three touchdowns as New England won 37-14 to reach the AFC Championship for the seventh straight season. The Patriots expected a showdown with the Steelers did not happen, as the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game stunned Pittsburgh in the Division Round. Facing the Jaguars, the Patriots were a heavy favorite in Foxboro but learned early just how the Jaguars were able to pull off the upset as they built a 14-3 lead in the second quarter on the reigning champions. Later in the first half, the Patriots offense finally got on track as Tom Brady led a six-play 85-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown run by James White. The Jaguars defense continued to limit the Patriots in the second half, adding a pair of Josh Lambo field goals to take a 20-10 lead, early in the fourth quarter. With their season on the brink, Tom Brady got the Patriots back in the game with an eight-play 85-yard drive, which was capped by a nine-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola, the critical play of the drive was a 21-yard pass to Amendola, which came on 3rd-down-and-18 from their own 25. The two teams would trade punts, with Ryan Allen pinning Jacksonville deep in their own territory. From there, the Patriots defense forced a three and out, setting the stage for Brady and the Patriots offense to take control of the game as Danny Amendola returned a punt to the Jacksonville 30. The Patriots would cash in the short field to take a 24-20 lead as Amendola caught his second touchdown pass of the fourth quarter. The Jaguars were unable to answer the Brady scores as the Patriots won the game 24-20 and advanced to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
Super Bowl LII: The New England Patriots were in the Super Bowl for the tenth time, including eight times in 17 years. Seeking their sixth Lombardi Trophy against the Philadelphia Eagles, they were attempting to cement their legacy as football’s greatest dynasty. The Patriots would have to win Super Bowl LII without their hero from Super Bowl XLIX, as Malcolm Butler was benched for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. Each team put forth a long drive that resulted in field goals to start the game. The Eagles would cash in their next chance, taking a 9-3 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Patriots second drive resulted in another field attempt, which went awry when Ryan Allen mishandled the snap. After an Eagle punt, the Patriots appeared to be on the move again as Tom Brady connected with Brandin Cooks on a 23-yard pass. On the play, Cooks suffered a concussion on a hit by Malcolm Jenkins and missed the remainder of the game. A few plays later, the Patriots turned the ball over on downs after a trick play, with Tom Brady attempting to make a first down catch from Danny Amendola. The Eagles would extend their lead to 15-3 as LeGarrette Blount had a 21-yard touchdown run. The Patriots scored on their next two drives, taking advantage of an Eagles turnover to cut the deficit 15-12 as James White, on a 26-yard run, score New England’s first touchdown. However, the Eagles would answer just before the half as the trick play that failed for Tom Brady succeeded with Nick Foles catching a fourth-down pass from Trey Burton in the end zone. Down 22-12 at the half, the Patriots quickly moved down the field to start the third quarter with Brady connecting with Rob Gronkowski on a five-yard touchdown pass. From there, the two teams traded scores, as they set a new record for offense in the Super Bowl. Trailing 32-26 after a fourth-quarter field goal by Jake Elliott, the Patriots took their first lead of the game as Rob Gronkowski caught a four-yard scoring pass from Brady with 9:22 left. The Eagles, though, continued to answer, taking seven minutes off the clock with Zach Ertz catching an 11-yard pass from Nick Foles to put Philadelphia back in front 38-33. Brady and the Patriots got the ball with 2:21 left, down 38-33. This time the magic appeared to be running out as Brandon Graham stripped the four-time Super Bowl MVP to give the Eagles back the ball. The Eagles would pad their lead with an Elliott field goal, as the Patriots burnt up their timeouts and left New England with 65 seconds to score a touchdown and two-point conversion to force overtime. This time the Patriots prayers would go unanswered as a Hail Mary pass landed in the end zone as the Eagles won Super Bowl LII 41-33. In the game, Tom Brady became the first quarterback with 500 yards in a Super Bowl, finishing the game with 505 yards with three touchdowns.
2018: After losing Super Bowl LII, the New England Patriots lost several pivotal players, including WR Danny Amendola, CB Malcolm Butler, LT Nate Solder, and RB Dion Lewis. To replace these key positions, New England acquired OT Trent Brown from the San Francisco 49ers, CB Jason McCourty and DT Danny Shelton from the Cleveland Browns, and WR Cordarrelle Patterson from the Oakland Raiders. The Patriots also sent WR Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for the 23rd overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. New England bolstered their running game with two picks in the first round by selecting OT Isaiah Wynn and RB Sony Michel from the Georgia Bulldogs. With a retooled offense and a 41-year old Tom Brady at QB, New England would try to make it to a third straight Super Bowl. In the first game of the 2018 regular season, New England battled the Houston Texans to a 27-20 victory that saw Tom Brady throw for three touchdowns and one interception. The following week, New England traveled down to the “Sunshine State” for the first time that year, in an AFC Championship rematch against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unlike their previous meeting, the Patriots struggled to stimulate an offensive attack against the Jacksonville defense. Blake Bortles lit up the New England secondary for 376 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-20 victory against the Pats. New England would look to bounce back in their Week 3 game against former defensive coordinator and new Detroit Lions head coach, Matt Patricia. Before the game began, Belichick would take over the headlines by acquiring troubled Cleveland Brown WR Josh Gordon. Gordon did not dress for the game despite the acquisition, and New England once again struggled on offense. The Patriots would lose to the Lions 26-10, their first loss to Detroit since Tom Brady’s first NFL appearance back in 2000. In dire need of a victory, and with three consecutive games at home, New England would defeat the Miami Dolphins 38-7 to begin a six-game winning streak. Included in the winning streak was Brady’s first endzone connection with Josh Gordon against the Indianapolis Colts, the 500th of his career. In Week 6, Patrick Mahomes would make his first start at Gillette Stadium in a shootout with the Patriots. Rookie RB Sony Michel found the endzone twice while rushing for 106 yards, and K Stephen Gostkowski had a flawless performance going five-for-five on his field-goal attempts and four-for-four on his PATs. A few weeks later, Aaron Rodgers would also make his first career start in Foxboro as the Patriots dominated the game 31-17, including a stellar performance from Josh Gordon (five receptions/130 yards/1 touchdown). The following week the Patriots winning streak would come to an end at the hands of another Belichick disciple when they were unable to defeat Mike Vrabel and the Tennessee Titans, losing 34-10. The game may most notably be remembered by former RB Dion Lewis’ postgame quote, “Hell yeah, it’s personal. That’s what happens when you go cheap. You get your ass kicked.” New England would enter their bye week with a record of 7-3. Following two more wins after the goodbye, the Patriots traveled to Miami Gardens for a divisional game against the Miami Dolphins, where they would lose heartbreakingly due to the Miami Miracle. Up 33-28, with 16 seconds left in the game, the Patriots took Devin McCourty off the field to be replaced by TE Rob Gronkowski. Figuring Miami would have to drive 69 yards to score, New England was unprepared for the coming sequence as QB Ryan Tannehill passed the ball to WR Kenny Stills, who then lateraled it to WR DeVante Parker, who then lateraled it to RB Kenyan Drake, resulting in a game-winning touchdown and 34-33 victory for the Dolphins. The Patriots’ final loss during the 2018 campaign came on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers. New England would wrap up the regular season by defeating the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets at home, finishing the year with an 11-5 record, the second seed in the AFC, and a record ninth straight first-round bye.
Written by Nick Marra
2018 Playoffs: After getting a week of rest during the Wild Card round, New England faced off against the Los Angeles Chargers during Divisional Playoff weekend. The Patriots’ offseason plan to retool their offense to a more power-based running scheme would pay off in January, as Sony Michel ran for 129 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-28 beatdown of the Chargers. The following week would set up an AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium against the Kansas City Chiefs and MVP Patrick Mahomes. New England’s defense had a nearly perfect first half by limiting the explosive Kansas City offense to 37 yards and shutting them out of the endzone. The Patriots would start the second half of the game with a 14-0 lead, but the Chiefs did not quit, as they battled back to make the game competitive. Kansas City would get on the scoreboard after a Travis Kelce touchdown, but New England would put up three of their own after a 47-yard field goal by Gostkowski would make the game 17-7 with 4:02 left in the third quarter. Kansas City would open up the fourth quarter with a one-yard Damien Williams touchdown reception, and not long after, a Tom Brady interception would catch a 23-yard touchdown giving the Chiefs their first lead of the game. With time dwindling, Sony Michel found the endzone once again, putting the Patriots up 24-21, but the Chiefs quickly answered with another Damien Williams touchdown to regain the lead 28-24 with just over two minutes to go. Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense would drive down the field 65 yards after an offside penalty against Dee Ford, and the Chiefs negated what could have been a game-ending interception, but Rex Burkhead would find the endzone to give New England once again the lead. Up 31-28, with only 39 seconds left, Patrick Mahomes would get the Chiefs’ offense into field goal range, where Harrison Butker would convert on a 39-yard attempt to tie the game and send it into overtime. Heads were the call from Patriots captain Matthew Slater as New England won the toss and chose to receive. Kansas City’s defense would put New England’s backs up against the wall multiple times during the drive, but Brady and the Pats converted on three separate third and ten opportunities. With 10:08 remaining in the overtime, Rex Burkhead once again found the endzone for six from two yards out, making the Patriots AFC Champions once again. This was the third time that New England was able to win the AFC Championship on the road, and ninth time total, during the Belichick/Brady era.
Written by Nick Marra
Super Bowl LIII: For the third time in a row, and fourth time in the last five years, the New England Patriots represented the AFC in the Super Bowl. Representing the NFC were the Los Angeles Rams in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI. The game started well for the Patriots as Cordarrelle Patterson returned the opening kickoff to the New England 39-yard line, setting excellent field position. After five straight runs to open the game, Tom Brady attempted his Super Bowl LIII first pass. Still, the ball was deflected by Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman into the hands of teammate Corey Littleton, resulting in an interception. This would begin the battle of field position between the two teams, as the Rams would only gain two yards on three plays and punted the ball back to the Patriots. The Pats offense would once again drive down the field into prime scoring position, but after failing to convert on third down, Stephen Gostkowski’s 46-yard attempt would go wide left and keep the game scoreless. After three straight punts between the two teams, the Patriots sent Gostkowski out for a 42-yard attempt to give New England the lead with 10:29 to go in the second quarter. The game would remain 3-0 at halftime. After halftime, the Rams received the ball to open up the second half. Los Angeles punter Johnny Hekker, described as a “weapon” by Bill Belichick, compiled 417 yards on nine punts throughout Super Bowl LIII. New England punter, Ryan Allen, also had a good performance after five punts accrued 215 yards. After a 53-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein, the Rams would get on the board, tying the game 3-3. Tom Brady and the Patriots drove the ball 69 yards down the field after back-to-back punts on the ensuing drives. Key plays included an 18-yard reception and a 29-yard reception by TE Rob Gronkowski, setting up a two-yard Sony Michel rushing touchdown to once again give New England the lead. After Jared Goff was able to get his offense into scoring position, Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore terminated the drive with an interception that was intended for former Brandin Cooks. This was the second of two great plays made by the New England secondary, the first being a pass breakup in the endzone during the third quarter by CB Jason McCourty. New England would seal their victory with a 41-yard field goal with 1:12 remaining in the game. Zuerlein had an opportunity to make it a one-score game with a 48-yard attempt, but the ball sailed wide left, ensuring the New England Patriots’ sixth Super Bowl victory. With their sixth Super Bowl championship, the Pats tied the record for most Super Bowl wins by a franchise with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Super Bowl LIII saw many records set, including the longest punt (65 yards – Johnny Hekker), lowest combined score (16 points total), and youngest head coach (33 years ten days – Sean McVay). Super Bowl MVP was awarded to Julian Edelman after a ten reception and 141-yard performance.
Written by Nick Marra
2019: After winning Super Bowl LIII, the New England Patriots lost some key players to retirement and free agency. Long time TE Rob Gronkowski retired, and DE Trey Flowers and OT Trent Brown signed elsewhere. To replace Gronkowski and Flowers, they signed former Patriots Benjamin Watson and Jamie Collins. In addition to their signings, New England acquired DE Michael Bennett from the Philadelphia Eagles. With a new roster on the books and coming off of an impressive defensive performance in the Super Bowl, fans had high expectations for the 2019 campaign, despite a key injury to C David Andrews. The expectations only increased after troubled WR Antonio Brown was released by the Oakland Raiders and signed with the Patriots a day before their Week 1 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Due to NFL rules, Brown was ineligible to play against his former team, but the Patriots offense looked like they were in mid-season form, demolishing the Steelers 33-3. The Patriots would unleash Brown on the league during a Week 2 game in Miami, where Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown. Hopes for a dominant 2019 season escalated until Antonio Brown found himself once again a free agent after being released from the team, following accusations that ended his Patriots tenure after only 11 days. Their defense’s performance lifted the New England offense as they maintained a steady streak of performances to begin the first half of the season. The defense did not allow a touchdown for 17 quarters, dating back to the 2018 AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs, but would see that streak come to an end after a Week 4 rushing touchdown by Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen. The following week in Washington, the Patriots fell behind early after a 65-yard touchdown run by Steven Sims, the first time they trailed all year. The Patriots scored 33 unanswered points as Tom Brady passed Brett Favre for third place on the all-time passing yards list. The New England defense dominated early, allowing only 20 points through their first five games, a modern NFL record. In Week 6, during a game on Thursday Night Football against the New York Giants, Tom Brady surpassed Peyton Manning for second place on the all-time passing list. The following week, on a Monday Night Football game in the Meadowlands, the Patriots defense played so well they had Jets starting quarterback Sam Darnold “seeing ghosts,” after completing 11 of 32 passes for 84 yards, four interceptions, and one lost fumble for a 3.6 QBR. With an offense that was struggling to pass the ball, Mohamed Sanu was acquired from the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. New England put the finishing touches on a perfect first half of the season, after a victory against the Cleveland Browns at home, the 300th career win for Bill Belichick. The Patriots would travel to Baltimore and take on first-place Ravens on a Sunday Night Football game that saw New England’s hopes for another 16-0 season go down the drain. 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson only threw for 163 and one touchdowns, but the combined rushing attack of him and Mark Ingram carved up the New England defense for 176 yards and two touchdowns, as the Ravens won 37-20. The Patriots entered their bye week with a record of 8-1 for first place in their division and the conference. Coming out of the bye, New England defeated the Philadelphia Eagles in a Super Bowl LII rematch 17-10, as WR Julian Edelman threw his first career regular-season touchdown to fellow WR Philip Dorsett. With the victory, New England was guaranteed a winning season for the 19th year in a row, and after defeating the Dallas Cowboys at home, the Patriots had their 17th straight ten-win season, an NFL record. Returning to the site of the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, New England was unable to repeat the magic as they lost to the Houston Texans 28-22. Things would not get any better in the next game when Kansas City came into Foxboro and defeated the Pats 23-16. This game was not without controversy as numerous calls came into question against the home team, but the home loss was the first for the Patriots since 2017. New England would return their winning ways after victories against the Cincinnati Bengals, but not without even more controversy. Before their meeting, an independent video contractor was alleged to have been filming the Bengals’ sideline, an infraction he was unaware of according to NFL policy. The penalties were not determined by the end of the 2019 season. After a hard-fought win against the Buffalo Bills that secured their 11th straight AFC East division championship, New England would lose their final game of the season to former Patriots defensive coach Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins. With that 27-24 loss, the Patriots were knocked out of the second seed in the conference and had to play on Wild Card weekend for the first time since 2009. The injury bug ravaged the New England locker room throughout the season by taking out more key players, including Pro Bowl FB James Develin and longtime K Stephen Gostkowski. To replace Gostkowski, the Patriots signed Mike Nugent, Kai Forbath, but ultimately decided on Nick Folk as their placekicker.
Written by Nick Marra
2019 Playoffs: After winning the AFC East and finishing third in the conference, the New England Patriots faced off against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Tennessee came into New England with an offense that featured the 2019 Comeback Player of the Year, Ryan Tannehill, and leading rusher Derrick Henry. The Patriots defense held Tannehill in check allowing only 76 yards passing but struggled to contain Henry as he ran for 182 yards and one touchdown. New England’s offense did outscore the Titans in the second quarter, but unfortunately for the Pats, they could not take the lead by halftime, trailing 14-13. A scoreless third quarter meant all the Patriots had to do, was overcome a one-point deficit with 15 minutes to play. Unable to generate much momentum, Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel, took advantage of a loophole in the rules to help bleed the clock by taking multiple penalties during a punt formation. A key drop by Julian Edelman late in the fourth quarter stalled a drive that would have given the Patriots a chance to take the lead on a field goal or touchdown. After failing to convert on third down, Tennessee punted the ball back to the Patriots. New England would start their drive on their one-yard line, down by one point, with 15 seconds remaining in the game. A direct snap to Brady resulted in a failed pass attempt to Mohamed Sanu, that was tipped in the air by a Titans defender and intercepted by former Patriot Logan Ryan. Ryan would return the interception into the New England endzone and end the 2019 season for the Pats with a 20-13 loss. The loss was only the third time in the Belichick/Brady era the team failed to win their first postseason game. This also ended a streak of eight consecutive seasons that the Patriots played in the AFC Championship game. Following the playoffs, the Patriots lost Tom Brady, as the man who won six Super Bowls signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after failing to reach a new deal in New England.
Written by Nick Marra
The New England Patriots are the second most valuable NFL franchise, ranked only behind the Dallas Cowboys. NFL fans love getting the newest merchandise featuring their favorite team or player. At one point fans could even buy bottles of Cowboys hot sauce! The Patriots can do one better, however, since tight end Rob Gronkowski has his own brand of bottled hot sauce, called Gronk’s Hot Sauce. Gronk lives exclusively off his endorsement money, and may be the only NFL player with his photo on thousands of hot sauce bottles.
©MMXX Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Football League. This site is not affiliated with the New England Patriots or the NFL. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on June 11, 2002. Last updated on September 13, 2020, at 11:11 pm ET.