Greatest play in Patriots History?

TheoShmeo

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The Butler pick.

Choosing the second greatest play would be much more interesting.
 

Van Everyman

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If not the Butler pick—and it kind of has to be— I’m going deep:

Bryan Cox’s hit on Jermaine Pathon in 2001. Started it all.
 

Silverdude2167

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I would consider Vinatieri 45 yarder through the snow to be as great a play as the Butler pick.
 

BaseballJones

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My candidates:

- Butler pick
- Vinatieri's 45-yarder against Oakland in the snow
- Edelman's crazy catch against Atlanta
- Vinatieri's GW against the Rams in SB 36
 

B H Kim

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Edelman's catch against the Falcons for Number 2
The only reason I would exclude the Edelman catch is the fact that it came on first down. If it hadn’t been ruled a catch, they had three more chances in that series.

EDIT to add: I’d consider Hightower forcing the Ryan fumble and the Flowers sack as even bigger plays from that game.
 

CantKeepmedown

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It has to AV's snow kick. Down 3, 27 seconds left. He misses, it's over. And he had no business making that kick. Horrendous weather, 3-4 inches of soft snow. And he had missed 4-5 kicks from that distance prior to that kick. The ball just disappears and you didn't quite know what happened until you saw the refs signal it was good.
 

Caspir

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My mind went, Butler Pick, The Tuck, AV's snow kick. I don't like the "Tuck Rule play" being the greatest, and to quote Jay Z, the Malcolm pick put the League on notice that, "The Dynasty continues, y'all die." I've also never experienced a bigger swing from devastation to elation than I did following that series of plays. It has to be Malcolm or AV. AV just for the sheer improbability of it all.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I think I'm going to go with Vinatieri's first championship winning kick. It wasn't as dramatic as the snow kick(s) or Butler's pick. But it won the first championship. It started the dynasty. Who knows what effect losing that game would have? We would have been a third-time Super Bowl loser with possibly a quarterback controversy that a third-year non-championship winning coach would have had to deal with in a difficult off season. Etc.

Maybe they win the game anyway. I sure don't like their chances very much if the Rams win the coin flip.
 

Mueller's Twin Grannies

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It's AV winning SB36 and it shouldn't be close. Nothing else happens without that kick. Well, maybe some of it, but not likely in the same manner.

Similarly, if you asked me the greatest play in Sox history (modern era), I'd go with "Back to Foulke!" because it was the final nail in the coffin of that bullshit curse nonsense and everything that followed was so much easier to weather as a result.
 

BigSoxFan

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Add me to the snow kick chorus. Degree of difficulty and he did it to jumpstart the greatest dynasty in modern sports history.

The Rams kick doesn’t happen without the snow kick so I don’t know how it can be ranked ahead of it.
 

Ale Xander

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There are only 4 possible options IMHO

1) Snow kick to tie it v. Oakland
2) Butler pick
3) Mo Lewis hit on Bledsoe (1st 3 SB wins never happen)
4) Edelman catch v. Dirty Birds (greatest play of the comeback, HM to High)
 

SMU_Sox

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Butler pick. Why? Because it encapsulates so many elements of why this team is great. Coaching, preparation, strategic gamesmanship, knowing the other coach and his tendencies, the draft and UDFAs, situational football and winning close games in crunch time.

Quick edit: if I told you that the Patriots greatest play was in 2014 and DMC wasn’t on the field on defense you’d probably look at me strangely if you didn’t immediately think Butler.
 

snowmanny

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AV’s kick to tie a playoff game? AV’s kick to break a tie?

Butler’s catch to preserve a Super Bowl win is as great a play as there is in football history. (I think it’s the greatest play in Super Bowl history, with maybe the (James) Harrison INT second) I love Vinatieri and I get that there was snow but I’m not sure how we are comparing 40+ yard field goals to everything that went into that Butler moment.
 

Euclis20

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This is a two play race for me. The Edelman catch was excellent, but it was 1st and 10 with plenty of time left, in the 5th of 6 super bowl wins. The catch was ultimately a 5-10% swing in win expectancy, which falls short. Real good play but without much effort I could come up with a dozen plays that had more meaning.

The snow kick was even more amazing but the stakes were just so much lower - like the Roberts steal, most of the importance of this play depends on what comes later. A team that has been to 13 conference title games and 9 super bowls in the last 18 years cannot have their greatest play be in the divisional round, sorry.

It's between the SB 36 game winner, and the Butler pick. For me, it's the Butler pick. It had a greater swing in win expectancy (per an article a few years ago by PFR, this was the third greatest swing in SB history, behind the Norwood miss and Burress' TD in SB 42), and it's easy to forget now, but at that point the Pats were 9 years removed from their last title and had not totally separated themselves from other dynasties. Not as meaningful as the SB 36 kick that started the whole thing, but the pick was a better play, definitely a greater shock and jumpstarted the second half of the Pats' dynasty, which cemented Brady/Belichick as the respective GOATs. Brady was 37 and about to lose his third straight SB, after two weeks of deflategate nonsense. For me, it's the Butler pick.


*edit - a play that should be considered that I haven't seen yet is the Law pick 6.
 
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m0ckduck

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How about a pre-BB era side stage?

Rationally, I guess it would have to be one of the special teams TDs in the 85 Super Bowl run— probably one from the Divisional Round game against the Raiders, since they came from behind in that one.

But the heart goes with the silly Hail Irving volleyball play against the Rams the following year:
Man, what a paucity of highlights from 30+ years of football.
 

BaseballJones

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I was just going to say basically what m0ckduck said: Imagine doing this before SB 36. Since BB/TB, it's just been one insanely great highlight after another. Before BB/TB....man, what really was the best play in franchise history? No clue.
 

tims4wins

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If we are talking a combination of greatness on a single play and also importance, then both the Butler pick and the snow bowl kick are like 1 and 1A, with the fact that the Butler pick sealed a title edging it out for me.

A play that probably deserves to be in the top 10 according to that criteria would be the blocked field goal return for a TD against the Steelers. Monumental play, and a great play by multiple players.
 
We've covered the clear front-runners, but I would like to show Vince Wilfork some love for one of the most memorable plays in football history. It wasn't an important play, nor did it have any greater significance, but I would argue it was the single most fun play in Patriots history:

The Butt Fumble.
 

Oppo

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It’s gotta be Butler

Honorable mention: Brady to Edelman to Amendola. Trickeration plus without it, likely no Butler play.

The most iconic play call that I associate with this team is the Brady fake / Faulk (White) direct snap TD run
 

gingerbreadmann

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I simply cannot justify selecting anything other than the Butler interception. It's in the pantheon of the greatest plays in sports history. If we were scientists in a hypothetical football lab, we would be hard-pressed to concoct a single play that carried so many layers of greatness as that one.

Every suggestion here has been a good one, of course. I just agree with someone above that the conversation to be had is really for #2. And to that, I submit a play that probably lands further down, but is one of my personal favorite plays of all time: The Ben Watson tackle touchback.

Edit: The butt fumble is also a fantastic choice
 

scottyno

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Even though they lost the game, I think this deserves a mention, 4th and 10, offense was getting dominated all day, whole world knows it's going to Gronk. If they'd won and went on to win another super bowl this play would be absolutely legendary.

 

Ale Xander

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I was just going to say basically what m0ckduck said: Imagine doing this before SB 36. Since BB/TB, it's just been one insanely great highlight after another. Before BB/TB....man, what really was the best play in franchise history? No clue.
Keith Byars 34 YD screen pass TD in 1996 AFC CG?
Kevin Turner TD v. Vikings when Bledsoe put up attempts record?
or the other kick in the snow.
 

Ralphwiggum

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To me the Butler pick and AV's game winner in SB 36 are like my children, I cannot rationally choose between the two of them. The AV kick: at that point in Boston sports history that is a game that Boston teams lose. Since the '86 Cs won we were like Charlie Brown trying to kick the fucking football, and that game was setting up to be the ultimate tease. Tebucky returns the fumble to ice the game, but no! A flag! Then they lose the lead in what seemed like about 5 plays, the team is completely gassed, the Rams are better, the entire thing is slipping away and we all know how this ends. Then Brady made a couple of throws and Adam made the kick and it was glorious.

Butler was more of an instant crushing defeat turned into a miraculous win, and with 10 years since the last Lombardi it felt as if they might never get another. Probably the happiest I have been watching sports since 2004, and it all happened in an instant.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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4) Edelman catch v. Dirty Birds (greatest play of the comeback, HM to High)
I think this play had very little to do with the outcome of the game. It was amazing but even if it hits the turf it's 2:20 left and second and ten at the NWE 36. They got 20 yards on the very next play. Yeah, it was a big first down and it got them significant yardage down field but it wasn't like a third down play or something like that. It's more memorable because of how unusual and close it was as compared to its impact on the game.

It's kind of like the Kearse catch in that regard. There's this lore around the Kearse catch that it was like a game changing type of play (or would have been without the pick) but it really wasn't. It was first down. If he doesn't catch it, the Seahawks are still in great shape. It's second and ten at the Patriots 38 and the Seahawks have 1:15 and two time outs left. They were picking up yards in chunks and had just converted a third and ten with relative ease.

Same with the Manningham catch, although to a lesser degree. I think what has kind of happened is that because they were difficult catches the Edelman and Kearse catches go down as equivalent to the Tyree catch in terms of importance to outcome. (Or potential outcome in the case of Kearse.) But they really weren't. I feel as though the Patriots still have a very good chance of scoring a TD even without the Edelman first down catch.
 

TheoShmeo

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If I had to pick a number two, it would be AV in the Snow Bowl. Just the degree of difficulty and how improbable it seemed given the conditions.

The reason why it has to be Butler in my view is that it was a SB walk off (aside from the short, almost certain epilogue), was an amazing play whenever it might have occurred and turned nearly certain defeat into all but certain victory.

That confluence of factors is, in my view, impossible to top.
 

Marciano490

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Butler pick.

Two things strike me:

1. Everyone posting here has been alive for every possible mention, which is crazy.

2. Brady is the GOAT, but I can’t really think of a single play that involves him.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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2. Brady is the GOAT, but I can’t really think of a single play that involves him.
I've tried to make this case before, but I think the single most important play in Patriots' history would be Brady's pass completion to Troy Brown before the Vinatieri kick in Super Bowl 36. If I had to pick one point where I could sort of draw the line between everything that went before and everything that went after, that's the play. It's not as dramatic or high difficulty as some of the others. But just going by the criteria of important -- both big "I" and small "i" -- that would be the play.

The other enormous play that was all Brady would be his TD run in the snow bowl game.
 

Bergs

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Butler pick.
2. Brady is the GOAT, but I can’t really think of a single play that involves him.
If Moss had come down with the late bomb in the Scottish Game, that would be universally regarded as the greatest pass ever thrown in human history, likely leading to a 19-0 season.

But your point stands; consistent surgical precision doesn't seem to make the single-play highlight reel.
 

Marciano490

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If Moss had come down with the late bomb in the Scottish Game, that would be universally regarded as the greatest pass ever thrown in human history, likely leading to a 19-0 season.

But your point stands; consistent surgical precision doesn't seem to make the single-play highlight reel.
I get anxiety just reading about that pass.

It’s not that Brady is just consistently surgical, it just kind of turned out that the last plays of all the SB wins didn’t involve any extraordinary heroics from him.
 

moondog80

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Re: the Mo Lewis hit: I get the connection but didn’t David Halberstam write that BB had already decided on Brady at that point and it was already just a matter of time?
 

Soxy Brown

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It’s gotta be Butler

Honorable mention: Brady to Edelman to Amendola. Trickeration plus without it, likely no Butler play.
These are actually the first two plays that came to my mind.

The Butler pick is definitely the correct answer here. Moments don't get any bigger than that, and that INT would have been amazing had it happened in a pre-season game, let alone a Super Bowl. Once you include the context, with the back and forth of the crazy play before it, then Beast Mode looking like he would walk in for a TD, only for High to save the day. Then that happened?! Phew. That whole game was wild and may be my favorite Pats game of all time. It probably is. Probably.

For the sheer joy that it made me feel watching it unfold, the Edelman double pass TD to Amendola against the Ravens is hard to beat. God, that whole game was just so much fun to watch. One of my favorites in the "not a Super Bowl" division. (I can't believe I just typed that sentence, how spoiled are we?)