The New England Patriots are now one of the model franchises in the NFL. They have established a winning culture thanks to all-time great quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.
As a franchise that started in 1959, they have been part of many memorable games in the history of the NFL.
5 games that no New England Patriots fan will ever forget:
1. “Squish the Fish” (1/12/1986)
Since their inception in 1959, the New England Patriots have struggled as a franchise. They have only made the playoffs four times from 1960 to 1984. For 25 years, they have been perennial disappointments.
They finally break out in the 1985-86 season.
The Patriots had managed to play their way into the AFC championship round behind the play of two QB’s throughout the course of the season: Steve Grogan and Tony Eason. Coming into their game against the Dolphins, they were 0-19 when playing in Miami.
Despite this fact, the Patriots dominated the Dolphins, who never really had a chance in their own stadium and simply stood by and watched as the Patriots walked away with the game 31-14.
The Patriots then found themselves on their way to the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, in that Super Bowl they would lose to Walter Payton and his near perfect (15-1) Chicago Bears.
2. “Win and You’re In” (12/21/1996)
After finishing the previous season 6-10, there weren’t too many people who had much hope for the Patriots in the ’96-’97 season, as the drama between owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Parcells dominated the Pats’ season.
Despite that, the Patriots found themselves entering the final game of the season with a 10-5 record and in a prime position to clinch both the AFC East and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
All they needed to do was beat the 6-9 New York Giants: a task that would prove far easier said than done.
The Giants came out strong and went into the locker room at halftime with a 22-0 lead.
Now I’m not sure what Parcells said in that locker room, but whatever it was the Patriots came out fired up, scoring 23 unanswered points to win the game, seize the division, and earn a first round bye in the playoffs.
On top of the win, rookie WR Terry Glenn made 8 catches for 124 yards which was enough to set a rookie record for receptions in a season (90).
3. “The Tuck Rule” (1/19/2002)
This game has become a part of NFL lore.
It was final contest in the history of Foxboro Stadium, played under heavy snowfall. It is best remembered for a controversial call near the end of the game that invoked the “tuck rule”.
Late in the fourth quarter, down 13-10 to the Oakland Raiders, the Patriots were asking young and unproven QB Tom Brady to do what seemed to be the impossible: drive through the snow, and through a very tough Oakland defense led by perennial Pro Bowlers Warren Sapp and Charles Woodson, and win (or tie) the game.
After a long drive to Oakland’s 42, as Brady dropped back to pass, he lost the ball while being tackled by Woodson, and Oakland linebacker Greg Biekert recovered it with 1:47 left.
However, an official instant replay review caused referee Walt Coleman to overturn the fumble, ruling Brady’s arm had been moving forward while being tackled and making the play an incomplete pass.
After the decision, the Patriots forced overtime on kicker Adam Vinatieri’s dramatic 45-yard field goal, and then took advantage of the momentum they had seized, defeating the Raiders in overtime on another field goal. Two games later, the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI.
4. “The Dynasty” (2/6/2005)
Entering Super Bowl XXXIX, the New England Patriots have an opportunity to accomplish what the Dallas Cowboys did: win three Super Bowls in four years
Going against the Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell refused to stay quiet in the days leading up to the game, routinely calling out the New England defense in public.
Mitchell would end the game with 1 reception for 11 yards as the Patriots defense remembered his number and did their talking on the field.
The Patriots would intercept McNabb three times in this game, sacking him another four. Although the Eagles would keep it close, the Patriots would win the game and make NFL history behind the stellar performance from Tom Brady (236 yards, 2 TD’s, 0 Ints).
5. “Undefeated” (12/29/2007)
Prior to the 2007 season, the Patriots brought in some new offensive weapons in WR’s Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
Combined with Brady’s legendary arm, they began an air assault on the rest of the league that spurned accusations of running up the score in many of their games. They formed an offense the likes of which the NFL had never seen.
The offense would rewrite the record books, scoring more points (589) than any other team in history. They were held under 30 only three times during the season, and scored 48 or more on four occasions.
By Week 17, Brady was just 2 TD passes shy of setting a new single season record of 50, and he’d only thrown 8 interceptions on the year. Moss was also two receiving TDs short of setting the new single season record of 23. Both records would be broken in this game, on a 65-yard pass in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots beat the Giants, 38-35, to seal an undefeated 16-game season, a feat that had never been accomplished before, and has not been since.
They later faced these same Giants in Super Bowl XLII and inexplicably lost the second meeting, forever tarnishing their regular season accomplishments with a poor performance in the most important game.
Honorable Mention: “Bruschi’s Return” (10/30/2005)
On February 16, 2005, just days after playing in the 2005 Pro Bowl, ILB Tedy Bruschi had a mild stroke, which led to the discovery of a hole in his heart for which he underwent immediate surgery.
Nobody knew if Bruschi would ever play again, but less than a year later there he was, running out of the home team tunnel to an enormous standing ovation.
He recorded a few tackles against the Bills and the Pats won, 21-16, on this emotional game. Following the game, Bruschi was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week, and then he played most of the remaining games that season.
Bruschi went on to win the 2005 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.
More on the Patriots:
- The New England Patriots
- Game by Game Betting Predictions for 2013
- New England Patriots: A Brief History
- Five Places a Patriots Fan Should Never Go
- New England Patriots: Bitter Rivalries
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