he New England Patriots are a professional football team in the National Football League (the NFL). The New England Patriots play in the American Football Conference (AFC) East Division with three other teams: the New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins and the Buffalo Bills. The New England Patriots have won 3 Super Bowl Championships. Gillette Stadium, located in Foxborough, Massachusetts, hosts all New England Patriots home games.
In 1959, the AFL awarded its last franchise to Boston executive William H. Sullivan, Jr. After reviewing proposed names submitted by the local Boston population, Sullivan chose the “Boston Patriots” as the team’s first name. The expansion team struggled during the first decade of its existence. The Boston Patriots made the playoffs only once in 1963 when the team finished in a tie for 1st place in the AFL East with the Buffalo Bills with a 7-6-1 record. In the AFL’s first Divisional playoff game, the Boston Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 26-8 to advance to the franchise’s first and only AFL Championship Game. In the AFL Championship Game, the San Diego Chargers crushed the Boston Patriots 51-10, denying the Boston Patriots the shot at an AFL Championship.
Following the merger of the AFL with the NFL, the Patriots joined the American Football Conference of the NFL in 1970. A year later, the team changed its name from the “Boston Patriots” to the “New England Patriots” when the team moved the location of its stadium from Boston’s Harvard Stadium to Foxboro Stadium located outside of the city limits. During the New England Patriots’ first 8 seasons in the NFL, the New England Patriots only recorded one winning season in 1976. That season started a streak of 5 consecutive seasons in which the New England Patriots would record a winning season. In 1976 post-season play, the England Patriots lost to the Oakland Raiders 24-21 in the Divisional round of the playoffs. The Oakland Raiders outscored the New England Patriots 14-0 in the 4th quarter and scored the game winning touchdown on a Quarterback sneak by Quarterback Ken Stabler with only 10 seconds left in the game. In 1978, the New England Patriots finished atop the AFC East for the first time in franchise history with an 11-5 record. But once again, the New England Patriots enjoyed little playoffs success, as the New England Patriots lost to the Houston Oilers 31-14 in the Divisional round of the playoffs. The Houston Oilers jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead behind three touchdown passes from Quarterback Dan Pastorini and the New England Patriots could never mount a comeback. In 1985, the New England Patriots only finished 3rd in the AFC East with an 11-5 record, but were fortunate to make the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Although the team had a rough hill to climb by having to play three road games in order to advance to the Super Bowl Championship Game, the New England Patriots were up to the challenge. In the Wild Card round of the playoffs, the New England Patriots defeated the New York Jets 26-14 thanks in large part to a tenacious defense that forced 5 costly New York Jets’ turnovers. The following week, the New England Patriots forced another 6 turnovers by the Los Angeles Raiders and converted those turnovers into 17 points. The New England Patriots shut out the Los Angeles Raiders in the 2nd half en route to an emotional 27-20 victory. The New England Patriots needed one more victory to advance to the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance, and faced the Miami Dolphins in Miami in the AFC Championship Game. The New England Patriots scored 21 straight points during the 2nd and 3rd quarters to roll to a 31-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins. The New England Patriots finally made an appearance in Super Bowl XX against a Chicago Bears team that had only lost once during the regular season. Unfortunately, the Patriots were no match for the Chicago Bears and their “Super Bowl” Shuffle. After scoring the first 3 points of the game, the Chicago Bears outscored the New England Patriots 46-7 the rest of the way, denying the New England Patriots their first taste of a Super Bowl Championship. The New England Patriots finished atop the AFC East the following season with an 11-5 record, but failed to win a playoff game as the team lost to the Denver Broncos 22-17 in the Divisional round of the playoffs. From 1987 through 1995, the New England Patriots endured a tough stretch of NFL regular season play. The New England Patriots only recorded winning seasons 3 times during that 9-year stretch and only made the playoffs once, exiting quickly with a 20-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
In 1996, in Head Coach Bill Parcells’ final year as Head Coach of the New England Patriots, the team finished atop the AFC East with an 11-5 record. Bill Parcell’s had already won 2 Super Bowl Championships with the New York Giants in 1986 and 1990, and he hoped to work his magic one more time as the leader of the New England Patriots. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, the New England Patriots crushed the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-3 behind a spectacular rushing performance by Running Back Curtis Martin. Curtis Martin rushed for 166 yards and 3 touchdowns, as the New England Patriots dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers in all facets of the game. In the AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-6 to advance to the franchise’s 2nd Super Bowl appearance. But once again, the New England Patriots could not win the big game. The Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots 35-21 in Super Bowl XXXI. An unlikely hero, special teams player Desmond Howard, won the Super Bowl MVP award by returning a kickoff 99 yards for the game clinching touchdown late in the 3rd Quarter. The New England Patriots were also burned by 2 Brett Favre touchdown passes of over 50 yards, a huge hurdle to overcome on such a big stage. In a controversial move, Head Coach Bill Parcells left the New England Patriots during the off-season to take the head coaching position with the AFC East rivals, the New York Jets.
In 2000, the New England Patriots hired Bill Parcells’ long-time protégé, Bill Belichick as the team’s new Head Coach. And although the New England Patriots suffered through a difficult
5-11 season in Bill Belichick’s first year as Head Coach, Belichick laid the foundation for what would soon become the NFL’s first 21st century Super Bowl dynasty. Behind the solid Quarterback play of youngster Tom Brady, the clutch kicking of Adam Vinatieri, and a solid defense that showed up to play week in and week out, the New England Patriots went onto win 3 Super Bowl Championships in a 4-year period. In 2001, the New England Patriots finished atop the AFC East with an 11-5 record. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, the New England Patriots defeated the Oakland Raiders 16-13 in overtime in a controversial game in a heavy snowstorm in the last game ever played in Foxboro Stadium. The Oakland Raiders built a 13-3 halftime lead and were protecting a 3-point 2nd half lead when New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady fumbled the ball which was then recovered by the Oakland Raiders. During replay review of the fumble, the officials overturned the call by invoking the “tuck rule” which stated that a ball is always considered a forward pass (not a fumble) whenever the quarterback makes any forward motion. The New England Patriots tied the game with a 45-yard field goal that barely made it over the cross-bar in regulation, and then defeated the Oakland Raiders in overtime 16-13. In the AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-17 to advance their first Super Bowl appearance under Head Coach Bill Belichick. In Super Bowl XXXVI, the New England Patriots finally got the monkey off their back, when they upset the St. Louis Rams 20-17 in the Super Bowl on February 3, 2002. Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yard field goal at the buzzer proved to be the game winner. The New England Patriots did not qualify for post-season play the following year, but in 2003, the New England Patriots lost only 2 games all season long en route to a 14-2 record and a 1st place finish in the AFC East. In the Divisional round of the playoffs the New England Patriots clinched the 17-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans with Adam Vinatieri’s 46-yard field goal with just over 4 minutes left to play in regulation. In the AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots dominated the Indianapolis Colts on both sides of the football en route to a 24-14 victory. Adam Vinatieri’s five field goals paced the team’s consistent offensive attack throughout the game. In Super Bowl XXXVIII, the New England Patriots were heavily favored over the NFC representative Carolina Panthers. The New England Patriots held a 14-10 halftime lead, but neither team scored in the 3rd quarter. The 4th quarter saw both teams score a combined 37 points, as there were numerous lead changes down the stretch. With the game tied at 29, the New England Patriots marched down the field and won the game 32-29 on an Adam Vinatieri 41-yard field goal with only 4 seconds to play in the game. Quarterback Tom Brady was named the Super Bowl MVP for the 2nd time in 3 years, as he completed over 66% of his passes and threw for over 350 yards and 3 touchdowns. Although Super Bowl XXXVIII was a fun and exciting game to watch for its play on the field, it will be most remembered for the halftime show when Janet Jackson exposed her breast during her song and dance routine. That “wardrobe malfunction” caused much unwanted publicity for Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake and CBS, the network that broadcast the event. CBS was sanctioned for allowing that incident to occur on public television, and the “wardrobe malfunction” resulted in numerous calls for stricter laws controlling “immoral behavior and acts” shown on public television. The following season, the New England Patriots backed up the “dynasty” talk, as the New England Patriots lost only 2 games for the 2nd consecutive year and finished atop the AFC East with a 14-2 record. In the Divisional round of the playoffs, the New England Patriots once again shut down the high powered Indianapolis Colts offense led by Peyton Manning, with a convincing 20-3 victory. The following week, the New England Patriots faced the 15-1 Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Despite the adverse conditions, the New England Patriots jumped out to a 24-3 halftime lead and never looked back. The New England Patriots eventually won the game 41-27 and advanced to their 2nd consecutive Super Bowl appearance. In Super Bowl XXXIX, the New England Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in a game in which the score did not reflect how much the New England Patriots dominated the game. The New England Patriots defense forced 4 costly Philadelphia Eagles turnovers, and Wide Receiver Deion Branch was named the Super Bowl MVP with his 11 reception, 133 yard effort. The New England Patriots became the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowl Championships since the Denver Broncos in 1997-1998 and they became only the 2nd team in NFL history to win 3 Super Bowl Championships in a 4-year time span. Head Coach Bill Belichick and talented young Quarterback Tom Brady had firmly established a New England Patriots dynasty.
During the 2005-6 NFL season, the New England Patriots continued their winning ways by finishing 1st atop the AFC East with a 10-6 record. After crushing the Jacksonville Jaguars in the wild card round of the playoffs, the New England Patriots fell to the Denver Broncos 27-13 in the divisional round of the playoffs - a 3rd consecutive Super Bowl win was not meant to be.
During the 2006-7 NFL season, the New England Patriots finished alone atop the AFC East for the 4th consecutive year (6 consecutive seasons if you include the 1st place tie atop the AFC East in 2001 and 2002) with a 12-4 record. The New England Patriots defeated former Patriots assistant coach Eric Mangini and his New York Jets 37-16 in the wild card roudn of the playoffs. The New England Patriots had to travel to San Diego for the divisional round of the playoffs and the Patriots were just good enough to upset the favored Chargers 24-21 in a thrilling playoff game. The New England Patriots didn't have enough juice to advance to a 4th Super Bowl in 6 years, as Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Patriots 38-34 in an exciting game in which the Patriots failed to protect an early 18 point lead.
The disappointment to the ending of the 2006-7 NFL season did not carry over into the 2007-8 NFL season. During the off-season, the New England Patriots traded for "trouble-maker" Wide Receiver Randy Moss and possession Wide Receiver Wes Welker. The New England Patriots were confident that Moss would fit perfectly into the Patriots innovative offensive scheme and that Welker would be the perfect complement to the big-play Moss, and boy were they right. The New England Patriots became the first NFL team to finish an NFL regular season with a perfect record since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. The New England Patriots won 16 consecutive games; Tom Brady set the single-season touchdown passing record with 50 touchdown passes; and Randy Moss set the single-season touchdown receptions record with 23 touchdown receptions. In addition to having the most prolific offense in NFL history, Quarterback Tom Brady won the MVP Award and the Offensive Player of the Year Award, while Head Coach Bill Belichik was named NFL Coach of the Year. The irony of the Coach of the Year honor was that earlier in the season, Belichik and the Patriots were penalized with the loss of draft picks for illegally video-taping signals and calls from opposing teams during the course of an NFL game to gain an unfair advantage over the opposition. After easy playoff wins against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the San Diego Chargers, all that stood in the way of a perfect 19-0 championship season was the 5th seed from the NFC, the jekyll-and-hyde New York Giants. The New York Giants had an up-and-down NFL season, but together a magical NFC playoff run by defeating all 3 of its NFC opponents on the road (Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-14; Dallas Cowboys 21-17 and Green Bay Packers 23-20) to advance to Super Bowl XLII against the undefeated New England Patriots. The New York Giants had lost to the New England Patriots 38-35 in the final game of the regular season, but the New York Giants pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history by defeating the Patriots 17-14 in a hard-fought defensive battle. Giants Quarterback Eli Manning was named the Super Bowl MVP as he lead the New York Giants on a 12-play, 83-yard drive in the final minutes of the game, capped off with the game-winning touchdown to Plexico Burress with only 35 seconds remaining. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots' quest for a 4th Super Bowl Championship would have to wait another year.