7 Greatest Moments in New England Patriots’ History
The New England Patriots are back for yet another Super Bowl appearance. Arguably one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the NFL, the Patriots will be making their 11th appearance at the Super Bowl, on February 3, 2019. This will also be the five-time NFL champions’ third straight trip to the showpiece event.
During the last two decades, the Patriots have provided football fans with so many great moments that are enough to last a lifetime. Such has been their dominance of American football since the turn of the century.
As Tom Brady and co. pack their bags to head to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta for the big showdown, we take a look at 7 of the greatest moments in the history of the storied NFL franchise. In no particular order of greatness, these are our picks.
- The Arrival of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady
Bill Belichick undoubtedly stands tall today as the greatest coach in NFL history, having won the Super Bowl more times than anyone else. However, back in 2000 when he was appointed to the Patriots’ top job, he was far from being the household name he is today. In fact, he came with some baggage and his arrival in Boston had been under controversial circumstances.
Belichick made national headlines by resigning as head coach of the New York Jets just a day after accepting the position. Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft was quick to pounce and traded for Belichick’s rights to bring him to Foxborough. Nearly two decades on, it can be safely said that this was the best decision Kraft made as Belichick has guided the franchise to five Super Bowl wins during his time at the helm.
Any great coach-quarterback partnership in future will have a hard time surpassing or even emulating the feats of Belichick and Brady. A late pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Tom Brady is considered the biggest “steal” in NFL Draft history. He is one of only two players to have won the Super Bowl five times, and the only one to do it with a single franchise. Having broken and set countless records, Brady is the G.O.A.T for many.
- THAT Comeback in Super Bowl LI
This one should still be fresh in our memories and a timely reminder to the LA Rams that they just cannot afford any lapses in concentration on February 3. The Patriots are a side that can win a game from any position and turn around any situation.
There was no greater display of this than the Super Bowl two years ago where the Patriots found themselves down 28-3 in the third quarter. All seemed lost at that point but there is a reason this Patriots side is held in such high esteem.
A combination of some well-timed plays and a relentless drive to take home the Lombardi Trophy enabled Brady and co. to claw their way back into a game they had no right of winning. After mounting the best ever Super Bowl comeback to draw level, the Patriots ultimately prevailed 34-28 in overtime.
- 5 Touchdowns in a Single Quarter for Brady
During the NFL regular season in 2009, the Patriots took on the Tennessee Titans on a snow-covered turf at the Gillette Stadium. What transpired on the field was something no one could have predicted. Tom Brady was unstoppable that night, and even that might be an understatement. The Patriots ran out 59-0 winners in a blowout for the ages.
Considering the game was played in mid-October, the heavy snow was quite unusual. But that did not stop Brady from having one of the best games of his illustrious career. With the Patriots already ahead, Brady went berserk in the third quarter and threw 5 touchdown passes to set a new NFL record. Two of these came in the last 2 minutes of the encounter.
- Robert Kraft Buys the Patriots
It is safe to say that Brady might have been winning all those titles and setting all those records in the colors of some other team(s) had Robert Kraft not intervened. In fact, New Englanders and Bostonians probably wouldn’t have had an NFL team to call their own if Kraft hadn’t stepped in to save the day.
In 1988, the then Patriots’ owner Billy Sullivan and his family were in financial difficulties after a number of bad investments. These problems ultimately caused Billy Sullivan to sell a controlling stake in the franchise with the Gillette Stadium going into bankruptcy. Robert Kraft came in to buy the stadium and also placed a bid for the Patriots franchise.
Though he lost that particular bid, he was ultimately successful in 1994 when he bought the team from then-owner James Orthwein, who seemed poised to move the franchise to St. Louis. The arrival of Kraft changed the fate of the team forever as is evident from the Patriots’ exploits in the last two decades.
- The Maiden Super Bowl Win
They say that the first one is always the hardest. Back in 2002, the Patriots were still considered a bit of a Cinderella team. But then came Super Bowl XXXVI and an incredible dynasty began.
For starters, the Patriots weren’t even supposed to make it to the Super Bowl, let alone win it. Bill Belichick had started his NFL career with 6 straight losing seasons at the helm of the Cleveland Browns and the New England Patriots. A 24-year-old Tom Brady was backup quarterback when the regular season got underway. That changed after the injury to starter Drew Bledsoe early in the campaign.
Young and full of determination , Brady led his team to their third Super Bowl appearance against all odds. Standing between them and the trophy were the favorites St. Louis Rams. A close game was decided by a last-minute field goal after Brady marched his team almost the length of the field with the game tied at 17 apiece.
- That Final Drive in Super Bowl XXXVI
The Patriots’ first Super Bowl appearance since 1996 was considered more of a chance encounter, but a close game was tied at 17-17 with a little over a minute left in the fourth quarter.Without any timeouts for the Patriots, Brady strategically drove his team up the field to set up the title-winning field goal and give the Patriots their first Super Bowl win. The rest, as they say, is history.
- Patriots v/s Colts (2004 AFC Championship Game)
In all honesty, this wasn’t the greatest of games but it was one of the many classic battles between Brady and the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Peyton Manning. It highlights the stark contrast between the careers of two top-notch quarterbacks.
Manning had impeccable regular season stats and was also the MVP. However, come the playoffs and Brady always seemed to have Manning’s number, though this would change slightly later in Manning’s career when he played for the Denver Broncos.
In this particular game, Brady ran methodical offenses on every possession and didn’t concede any turnovers. On the other hand, Manning was off-color and missed the target with his passes all through the game. You could credit the Patriots’ rock-solid defense for Manning’s underwhelming performance but this game was about more than that. It was the representation of a career-long success trajectory for Brady over the former Colts’ quarterback.