The Patriots are probably the most dynamite team in the 21st-century. This team has a scroll-sized list of great moments, so this piece wasn’t particularly easy. I scoured the research and figured this is a pretty solid list. However, if you feel like I’ve missed something, or want to contest one of these moments, or just want to argue my list for the sake of argument, leave a comment down below.
10. Ty Law Picks Off Manning 3 Times in AFC Championship Game 2003
I considered this game almost like a tie with the game I’ve ranked at 9th, and basically for the same reason. These games against the Colts marked one of the greatest rivalries ever, and by ever, I mean any professional sport, Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady. Two of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game competing against one another time after time throughout the primes of their careers. But this game wasn’t about Brady, it was about Ty Law. Manning was coming into his own this season, proving to the league he had an arm to be reckoned with. However, after Law’s amazing one-handed interception, Manning appeared rattled. Three picks later (2 more going to Law), and a final score of 24 – 14 Patriots, proved Manning wasn’t ready for the big stage yet.
9. Patriots AFC Divisional Game against the Colts in 2004
Another classic Manning versus Brady battle! Although truthfully, the game was underwhelming come the final score, it did speak volumes for the respective quarterbacks’ careers. By which I mean, Manning had phenomenal regular season stats and went on to win the MVP that year. Unfortunately, in another playoff battle with his rival Brady, he fell short. The difference in the two quarterbacks became a matter of poise. Brady methodically ran the offense on numerous possessions, ate up large chunks of the clock, and didn’t cause any turnovers. Inversely, Manning was unable to get any rhythm going and threw off target passes throughout the game. One could argue the Patriots’ defense played a major role in Manning’s performance, and certainly, it did, but this game was greater than that. This game represented a career trajectory of success for Brady over Manning.
8. Tom Brady Throws 5 Touchdowns in a Quarter against the Titans in 2009
Recently, Madden Football released a “G.O.A.T” edition of their storied video game franchise. On the cover is none other than Tom Brady. His performance against the Titans in 2009 exemplifies this title. Brady was simply unstoppable in this game. In the second quarter, Brady threw a barrage of perfect passes to set the record for most TD passes in a quarter. His first was a 41-yard bomb to Randy Moss, which then became the recipient for Brady’s second TD on a 28-yard pass. After his third score, Brady managed to sneak in his final two touchdowns to Wes Welker in the final 2 minutes of the game, the fifth score came with only 16 seconds left on the clock! This was an incredible game, even if you hate Brady, no fan of football can deny his incredible passing prowess, one that has dubbed him as the greatest of all time!
7. Robert Kraft Buys the New England Patriots in 1994
In 1994 the fate of the Patriots was changed forever. Robert Kraft, a lifelong Patriots fan, purchased the team for $172 million. Since Kraft has taken over the franchise, the Patriots have been on an upward trajectory towards perfection. The Patriots are globally renowned for being a successful, consistently winning team. Kraft has made excellent decisions as the owner, like giving the reins of player personnel to Belichick, or keeping their star Tom Brady happy. His moves and investment in the team has led to 16 playoffs appearances in 21 years, 7 Super Bowl, and 5 championship victories, which are tied for second-most in the NFL. The Patriots are the benchmark of success in modern sports.
6. Patriots Hire Bill Belichick as their Head Coach in 2000
Belichick is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NFL. His achievements are extensive and his ability to consistently put together a contending team in unparalleled. He’s won New England five Super Bowl Championships and has been awarded the coach of the year title 3 times. Belichick has created a culture of winning in New England, one that demands perfection from every member of the team. He’s established the Patriots as a true dynasty and placed them near the top of best franchises in the NFL. In many ways, Belichick should be the model for coaching methodologies for any coach of any sport.
5. The “Snow Kick” against the Raiders in the 2002 AFC Divisional Round
This game is infamous in its broader implications. On the final drive of regulation, Charles Woodson strip sacks Tom Brady, which ultimately led to a Raiders recovery. However, the call was overturned under the notorious tuck rule. But, tuck rule aside, this was a great game of football. Adam Vinatieri hit two clutch field goals in the snow! The first one, which occurred shortly after the tuck rule, was from 45 yards out! A kick from that distance isn’t even easy to hit in clear weather conditions, but to do it in the pouring snow, that’s something. Vinatieri’s second kick came in OT and sealed the Patriots victory, a victory that went on to become a Super Bowl Championship. These kicks cemented Vinatieri as a top placekicker, with ice in his veins (that must explain why he kicks so well in the snow).
4. The End of the 2007 Regular Season (50 TDs by Brady, 23 TDs for Moss, and a 16-0 finish)
This past season, NFL aficionados had the pleasure of watching the Falcons outstanding offense, an offense that was consistently compared to one specific former squad, the 2007 Patriots. They simply dominated their opponents, so much so, they finished with a perfect regular season record, becoming only the second team in NFL history to accomplish that feat. In addition to that record, Tom Brady finished with the most TDs in a regular season (50). Randy Moss had the great fortune to be on the receiving end of 23 of those scores, which gave him the honor of most touchdowns in a regular season by a wide receiver. Despite their eventual loss against the Giants in the Super Bowl, this Patriots’ offense was outstanding!
3. Malcolm Butler‘s Interception in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks in 2014
The Seahawks and Patriots are no strangers to big games. Both teams have been contenders for the past few years, and know what it takes to win. Naturally, when they met in Super Bowl XLIX, fans expected a gridiron battle. And boy, the Patriots and Seahawks did not disappoint! In the final seconds of the game, trailing 28 – 24, Russell Wilson attempted to throw the game winning TD, only to be intercepted on the goal line by Malcolm Butler. Regardless of the controversy surrounding the play call, Butler made an outstanding read and willed his way to yet another Patriots Super Bowl victory.
2. Game Winning Field Goal in Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams in 2002
Although I was tempted to place the Malcolm Butler pick in this spot, I decided that this game had a greater overall impact on the Patriots as a franchise. For starters, this game marked the start of a Tom Brady we’re all accustomed to watching. The Rams had just tied the game at 17 – 17 with a little over a minute left in the fourth quarter. Despite being young and out of timeouts, Brady methodically drove his team down to set up the game-winning field goal. More importantly, this victory marked the beginning of the Patriots dynasty. They transformed from simply a good team, to the team to beat, a role that they’ve now held for basically an entire decade.
1. The Patriots Historic Super Bowl LI Comeback against the Falcons in 2017
This one should’ve been expected. Although Falcon supporters and Patriot haters would disagree, Super Bowl LI is arguably the best of the century. The initial shock, the denial of the impossible, and the comeback to top all comebacks; what more could a football fan ask for? The first half left viewers across the nation stunned. The disciplined and dynamic Patriots were falling woefully short of stopping MVP Matt Ryan‘s offense. And early into the third, with a 28 – 3 lead, it was all but official that the Falcons would earn their first title win. However, Tom Brady and the Patriots’ defense were not ready to quietly walk off the field without another Lombardi trophy. With an utter shutout and a record breaking performance (416 passing yards, most in a championship game), the Patriots forced the first ever overtime, and subsequently capped off their victory surge in the opening drive. It was truly an incredible game.