Greatest play in Patriots History?

sheamonu

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Doesn't the Snow Plow play have to be top 3 for pre-Kraft era? Not only did Fairbanks' creativity lead to a game-winning kick, it gets huge bonus points for being a splinter under Don Shula's fingernail for years!
True on Shula but it was Ron Meyer who waved him on the field.
 

Kull

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The Vinatieri 45 yarder in a driving blizzard. All the rest are a distant second. Not only was it the necessary precursor for all the Super Bowl awesomeness to follow, but it came against the hated Raiders. As with the 04' Sox, the curse wasn't mentally broken by the World Series victory against the Cards, but rather the preceding miracle comeback against the Yanks. After that, anything was possible, and the same was true of the sad-sack Pats who finally had a miracle of their own.

As for the play itself, go take another look at that video. It was snowing heavily and HORIZONTALLY and the wind was swirling. Factor in the high stakes circumstances along with the distance and the extreme weather elements, and this is probably the greatest NFL field goal ever. Easily the most important play in Patriots history.
 

TheoShmeo

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How can a SB walk off pick, turning certain defeat into certain victory, on an extremely difficult play where everything had to go just right, be a distant second?

I mean, I love the AV kick and it would be my number two. But I can’t see any reasonable argument for the Butler pick not being at or close to the top.

I also reject the Raiders-Yankees comparison. I mean, yeah, after the Ben Dreith screw job, Jack Tatum and other assorted indignities, I hate them too. But the Yankees stand alone in baseball and really all of sports as the object of regional hate, while the Raiders stand alongside the Fins, Steelers, Ravens, Jets and Colts as Patriots blood rivals. I think only a small percentage of Pats fans would anoint the Raiders as the number one villain while only a total imbecile would chose any team other than the MFYs as the Sox chief rival.
 

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Probably the highest degree-of-difficulty NFL field goal ever made, at least to my knowledge. In terms of greatness, there have been 3 kicks that won super bowls as the last play from scrimmage (or second-to-last) - two are Vinatieri's, and the third was SB 5 which sucked as a game. This didn't even happen in the conference championship, nevermind a super bowl. Hard to argue it as "greatest NFL field goal ever".

Most important play in Patriots history? I think there's a case for #2, but there's also a case that it wasn't the most significant play of the drive, nevermind franchise history. If they don't attempt the FG there on 4th and 9 at the OAK 28, there's a chance they convert and have a few more plays from closer-in (there was 0:32 left). If Walt Coleman doesn't overrule the fumble call, game's over.

There's definitely no case for #1 relative to the Butler INT. Third soul-crushing last-minute SB defeat in a row, Brady can't win the big one anymore, vs instant glory and an 84% WPA swing... and done in a manner that underscores forever the franchise's greatest attributes: knowing your job, everyone over-preparing, and an incredible focus on execution.
 

Kull

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The case against the Butler play is that it didn't win the Super Bowl. He could have dropped the ball and the Seahawks still had to score a TD. Granted, they were on a roll and it certainly *seemed* like a TD was inevitable, but we don't know that. But even if the Pats had lost the game and it was 3 losses in a row, well, how spoiled is that? "Woe is us, we lost another Super Bowl and haven't won it in ten years!!" See how much traction that argument gets with every other NFL fan base.

But the critical element for those of us who remember the long years of drought and losing the close ones and getting jobbed by the refs, is the Vinatieri kick was a flat-out miracle that ran counter to everything we'd come to expect from this team. It changed everything. And as a high leverage, extreme degree of difficulty play, it has no equal, unlike umpteen end zone interceptions.
 

Al Zarilla

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#1 is Adam’s kick in the blizzard to tie it for me. If he misses, most likely no XXXVI win. Do the Pats still take off from there on a Super Bowl tear? Who knows. Nobody’s mentioned it, I don’t think: would Belichick have opened up the QB job again (Brady/Bledsoe) if they’d lost? From what Belichick said later (Brady was ahead of Bledsoe preseason but they didn’t dare to start Brady because of his inexperience) I doubt it. But, things could have been thrown up in the air somewhat.

By the time of Malcolm’s interception, we had 3 super bowl victories, and if you look you can find half of the teams in the league that have less combined.
 

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Kull, I don’t think that folks who choose the Butler pick consider the pick itself in isolation from the rest of the play until the whistle. To me, that play is from the second the Seahawks snapped the ball until when the play itself ended. True, the Pats could have botched the snap, and before that not drawn Bennett off sides. But I think that game ended for all practical purposes when they play was concluded. The odds of a Patriots fuck up after that point were tiny.

And by the way, I hear you on the timing thing. Bill Simmons wrote a great column after the Snow Bowl about how that was a game the Pats always lose.

But, on the flip side, the Seahawks win came not only after 3 SB wins (culminating 10 years earlier) but also after AFC championship game losses to Peyton Freaking Manning, who they had previously owned, and two ball crushing losses to a New York sports team. For me, the getting over the hump point in January 2002 was also really big, but there was a major catharsis in February 2015, too.
 
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Kull, I don’t that folks who choose the Butler pick consider the pick itself in isolation from the rest of the play until the whistle. To me, that play is from the second the Seahawks snapped the ball until when the play itself ended. True, the Pats could have botched the snap, and before that not drawn Bennett off sides. But I think that game ended for all practical purposes when they play was concluded. The odds of a Patriots fuck up after that point were tiny.
I think what he was saying is that the play was 2nd down - if Butler merely knocks it incomplete, the Seahawks still had to score, so the game wasn't lost. But I mean, c'mon.
 

TheoShmeo

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I think what he was saying is that the play was 2nd down - if Butler merely knocks it incomplete, the Seahawks still had to score, so the game wasn't lost. But I mean, c'mon.
Oh. C’mon indeed. If I’m Seattle with two chances from the one with 24 in the backfield (and I know his numbers that year on short yardage near the end zone), I like my chances a lot.
 

tims4wins

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Oh. C’mon indeed. If I’m Seattle with two chances from the one with 24 in the backfield (and I know his numbers that year on short yardage near the end zone), I like my chances a lot.
Right, the point is it took basically a once in a lifetime play for the Pats to win that game. If Seattle throws an incomplete pass on 2nd down, it still would have taken a once in lifetime play (or a once in a lifetime defensive stand) to win that game. And yes I realize that teams fail from the 1 yard line all the time, but given the stakes and situation it still would have been unprecedented and a once in a lifetime type of situation. I mean Brady got picked from the 1 in KC, we don't view it as some miracle for KC due to the game situation.
 

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The case against the Butler play is that it didn't win the Super Bowl. He could have dropped the ball and the Seahawks still had to score a TD. Granted, they were on a roll and it certainly *seemed* like a TD was inevitable, but we don't know that. But even if the Pats had lost the game and it was 3 losses in a row, well, how spoiled is that? "Woe is us, we lost another Super Bowl and haven't won it in ten years!!" See how much traction that argument gets with every other NFL fan base.
I don't care what other NFL fanbases think, you're moving the goalposts. We're talking about greatest plays in Patriots history. The arc of the franchise went from "some success and then a lot of near-misses and couldn't-get-it-dones during what should be glory years" to "a dynasty with no equal, comparable only to the 1981-1998 49ers, winning titles over a decade apart".

And "84% WPA" says that yes, the play did win the super bowl. Are there theoretical scenarios where it still could have been lost? Sure. But the damage was done by that one play, more than any other single play in super bowl history, nevermind Patriots history. Like, by comparison (TRIGGER WARNING) suppose Randy Moss catches that hail mary. We convert a near-gimme FG that ties it at 17. So the WPA would be, at most, just under 50%, because we'd be going to overtime that's treated as a coin flip. And likewise, Vinatieri's kick, while legendary, merely tied the game. Butler turned disaster into victory, in one fell swoop.

[The kick] changed everything. And as a high leverage, extreme degree of difficulty play, it has no equal, unlike umpteen end zone interceptions.
It doesn't get a lot higher-leverage than an end zone interception stopping a drive that was on the 1 which, if it ended in a TD, would have taken the Patriots from winning to losing. In fact, I'd say it doesn't get any higher leverage. And it doesn't get a lot higher degree-of-difficulty than getting an end zone interception on a no-read, instant-throw play (which they called because it had always worked) where the other stacked receiver goes and holds his opposite number to create an illegal pick. Run that play 100 times against every defense in the league and it's a TD 80%+ of the time, if not 90%, and an incompletion the other times. Making that into an interception was a work of coaching genius and dedication in practice. I mean hell, they'd never even run a 3-corners end zone package that entire year, and they made the play of the season out of it... that's how prepared they were.

"Umpteen end zone interceptions", give me a break. There aren't umpteen. There may not even be another of comparable significance to a playoff game, nevermind a super bowl.
 

Kull

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Believe me, I understand the sentiment in favor of the Butler INT. Until that moment, it felt like some sort of curse had settled in, dooming the franchise to lose Super Bowls because of ridiculous catches. But at that point the Pats had already achieved dynasty status with 3 wins in 4 years, and nothing would ever take that away. By contrast, the Snow Bowl kick happened for a franchise that had never won the big one, and in hindsight, it was the moment when the switch flipped and the future we've all reveled in became possible.

Plus as a single individual play, the clutch aspect and the sheer degree of difficulty make it something quite unique. Sure there are actual SB-winning kicks out there, but none were even remotely this unlikely.
 

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Well, likewise, I understand the emotional significance of winning the Snow Bowl, because to that point we'd always lost those games. I'm sympathetic to viewing the first title as more special than the others, as most of us do with the Sox. But there are a lot of dimensions to "greatest". Call Vinatieri's play your favorite, and you'd get a lot less argument.
 

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Probably the highest degree-of-difficulty NFL field goal ever made, at least to my knowledge. In terms of greatness, there have been 3 kicks that won super bowls as the last play from scrimmage (or second-to-last) - two are Vinatieri's, and the third was SB 5 which sucked as a game. This didn't even happen in the conference championship, nevermind a super bowl. Hard to argue it as "greatest NFL field goal ever".

Most important play in Patriots history? I think there's a case for #2, but there's also a case that it wasn't the most significant play of the drive, nevermind franchise history. If they don't attempt the FG there on 4th and 9 at the OAK 28, there's a chance they convert and have a few more plays from closer-in (there was 0:32 left). If Walt Coleman doesn't overrule the fumble call, game's over.

There's definitely no case for #1 relative to the Butler INT. Third soul-crushing last-minute SB defeat in a row, Brady can't win the big one anymore, vs instant glory and an 84% WPA swing... and done in a manner that underscores forever the franchise's greatest attributes: knowing your job, everyone over-preparing, and an incredible focus on execution.
To that last part, I would add the very Patriot fact of having the star play being made by an undrafted free agent.

This got me thinking of Patriot Super Bowl stars and their place in the football universe coming out of college:
  • Brady (#199 -- plenty of ink has been spilled telling that story)
  • Butler (UDFA)
  • Edelman (7th round)
  • White (4th round)
  • Troy Brown (8th round)
 

tims4wins

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To that last part, I would add the very Patriot fact of having the star play being made by an undrafted free agent.

This got me thinking of Patriot Super Bowl stars and their place in the football universe coming out of college:
  • Brady (#199 -- plenty of ink has been spilled telling that story)
  • Butler (UDFA)
  • Edelman (7th round)
  • White (4th round)
  • Troy Brown (8th round)
Rodney Harrison was what a 6th round pick?
Vrabel was a cast-off from Pittsburgh, 3rd round pick I believe
Deion Branch was a 2nd rounder
Was Vinatieri drafted? I can't remember
 

Kull

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I don't care what other NFL fanbases think, you're moving the goalposts. We're talking about greatest plays in Patriots history. The arc of the franchise went from "some success and then a lot of near-misses and couldn't-get-it-dones during what should be glory years" to "a dynasty with no equal, comparable only to the 1981-1998 49ers, winning titles over a decade apart".
I'm not moving the goalposts, although there's a decent chance the wind was doing that during the Snow Bowl! But kidding aside, one reason the Vinatieri field goal gets the nod is because it was the precursor to the glory era. Not an event which led to its continuation.

And "84% WPA" says that yes, the play did win the super bowl. Are there theoretical scenarios where it still could have been lost? Sure. But the damage was done by that one play, more than any other single play in super bowl history, nevermind Patriots history. Like, by comparison (TRIGGER WARNING) suppose Randy Moss catches that hail mary. We convert a near-gimme FG that ties it at 17. So the WPA would be, at most, just under 50%, because we'd be going to overtime that's treated as a coin flip. And likewise, Vinatieri's kick, while legendary, merely tied the game. Butler turned disaster into victory, in one fell swoop.
It was a great play, and I certainly don't mean to demean all the really cool things which made it the excellent event that it was. But consider that Vinatieri's kick - if missed - would have lost the game, and thus there wouldn't have been that crucial first Super Bowl win, the one which set the pattern for all that would follow. It would be just one more heart breaking playoff loss from a team that had never won it all.

It doesn't get a lot higher-leverage than an end zone interception stopping a drive that was on the 1 which, if it ended in a TD, would have taken the Patriots from winning to losing. In fact, I'd say it doesn't get any higher leverage. And it doesn't get a lot higher degree-of-difficulty than getting an end zone interception on a no-read, instant-throw play (which they called because it had always worked) where the other stacked receiver goes and holds his opposite number to create an illegal pick. Run that play 100 times against every defense in the league and it's a TD 80%+ of the time, if not 90%, and an incompletion the other times. Making that into an interception was a work of coaching genius and dedication in practice. I mean hell, they'd never even run a 3-corners end zone package that entire year, and they made the play of the season out of it... that's how prepared they were.
Agreed, fantastic play and it's clearly one of the all time greats.

"Umpteen end zone interceptions", give me a break. There aren't umpteen. There may not even be another of comparable significance to a playoff game, nevermind a super bowl.
I couldn't find any stats to back this up, but anecdotally, end interceptions are not uncommon. There have probably been dozens in playoff games alone. The Butler interception was certainly exceptional given the circumstances, but I was referring to the commonality of "end zone interceptions" when compared to "long field goals made during a raging blizzard". Couldn't find data on the frequency of those either, but anecdotally they would have to be far rarer. And in terms of those which changed the arc of an entire franchise's history, well, there's just this one.
 

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Rodney Harrison was what a 6th round pick?
Vrabel was a cast-off from Pittsburgh, 3rd round pick I believe
Deion Branch was a 2nd rounder
Was Vinatieri drafted? I can't remember
I didn't include players that the Pats picked up from other teams, as those guys had some sort of NFL pedigree by that point. Hell, Rodney was a multiple Pro-Bowler when we got to the Pats.
For the flip side, players who were high picks who shone under the bright lights of the Super Bowl, I think you would put the following:
  • Branch (I would consider 2nd round to be pretty highly regarded, probably even 3rd round)
  • Hightower (1st round)
  • Law (1st round)
  • Gronk (2nd round)
 

tims4wins

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I couldn't find any stats to back this up, but anecdotally, end interceptions are not uncommon. There have probably been dozens in playoff games alone. The Butler interception was certainly exceptional given the circumstances, but I was referring to the commonality of "end zone interceptions" when compared to "long field goals made during a raging blizzard". Couldn't find data on the frequency of those either, but anecdotally they would have to be far rarer. And in terms of those which changed the arc of an entire franchise's history, well, there's just this one.
Here is one counter point: Janikowski also made a 45 yard field goal in the same game. The exact same length as Vinatieri's kick. So it might have been hard, but it had literally already been done in the same game, in the same weather. Janikowski also made a 38 yard FG that game. There were 7 kicking tries that game, every single one was made. Difficult conditions? Sure. But we've seen way worse conditions before in which kickers missed a ton of field goals. For instance, Patriots at Bills in December 2000. Huge snowstorm. Vinatieri went 2-3 and Steve Christie went 1-3.
 

Kull

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Here is one counter point: Janikowski also made a 45 yard field goal in the same game. The exact same length as Vinatieri's kick. So it might have been hard, but it had literally already been done in the same game, in the same weather. Janikowski also made a 38 yard FG that game. There were 7 kicking tries that game, every single one was made. Difficult conditions? Sure. But we've seen way worse conditions before in which kickers missed a ton of field goals. For instance, Patriots at Bills in December 2000. Huge snowstorm. Vinatieri went 2-3 and Steve Christie went 1-3.
That's an excellent point - the 7 for 7 on made kicks is pretty remarkable! But to quibble a bit on the Janikowski field goal comp, the winds and the rate of snowfall weren't constant throughout the game. I looked back at some old video and there was less snow on the field and the winds weren't as fierce as they were during the Vinatieri kick (i.e snow was falling vertically during the Janikowski 45-yarder), plus the visibility was clearly better. And of course, the make-it-or-go-home aspect wasn't present for Janikowski.
 

tims4wins

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That's an excellent point - the 7 for 7 on made kicks is pretty remarkable! But to quibble a bit on the Janikowski field goal comp, the winds and the rate of snowfall weren't constant throughout the game. I looked back at some old video and there was less snow on the field and the winds weren't as fierce as they were during the Vinatieri kick (i.e snow was falling vertically during the Janikowski 45-yarder), plus the visibility was clearly better. And of course, the make-it-or-go-home aspect wasn't present for Janikowski.
Didn't you just try to rebuke the same point about the Butler pick - that there have been plenty of end zone picks?
 

Kull

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Didn't you just try to rebuke the same point about the Butler pick - that there have been plenty of end zone picks?
True, I should have omitted the bolded part, as the high leverage aspects were essentially equal for Butler and Vinatieri.
 
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In terms of the greatest example of the principles of sport, my pick is the Watson forced fumble in the Denver playoff game. They lost the game. The refs blew the call. Man, though, that combination of athleticism and will to win in the face of defeat was awesome. http://www.nfl.com/videos/good-morning-football/0ap3000000815798/Watson-breaks-down-legendary-tackle-vs-Bailey-No-way-it-wasn-t-touchback

In the same vein (but leading to W) is the Troy Brown forced fumble after INT in the Chargers playoff game. Less athletic play, but so f-ing smart and clutch.
 

Ralphwiggum

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The Snow Bowl loss would have been a tough loss in the sense that it was a playoff game and also the last game in the old stadium. But the Pats weren't even favored in that game, and even if they won they still had to go on the road to beat a heavily favored Steeler team and then beat the Greatest Show on Turf, on turf. I mean obviously this ended up being what happened, but I remember watching that Raider game I was totally cool with it when it looked like they were going to lose. Even with a loss in that game the 2001 Pats had wildly exceeded anyone's expectations.

To me if you are picking a play from 2001 it has to be either the Brady to Brown throw on the final drive or Adam's final kick. That game is the game that Boston teams always lost. Winning the whole game, falter at the end, and watch the championship slip away in heartbreaking fashion. You want to talk about hearbreak, if they had lost that Rams Super Bowl after everything that had happened up to that final drive, that would have been crushing.

I love me some Adam V. and the snow bowl is an all time classic, and I put the kick pretty high on the list, but for a team with 6 Lombardi's the greatest play in team history simply cannot be one that happened in the divisional round with an overtime period and two whole games left before they won the championship.
 

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Forcing the Raiders to punt after they gained 8 yards on first down on the drive immediately before the tuck and Adam’s kick is also pretty high on my list for that game. How that happened still kind of amazes me.

I can accept the Snow Bowl kick as being very high on the list. Sure, they didn’t win a SB that night but without that remarkable feat, through a swirling snow storm, they don’t have the chance to win the first title. Plus, the nature of the kick itself...just high and long enough...and the beauty of the scene. It all factors in.

The thing I take issue is the assertion that it’s number one and all the second place contenders are looking way up.

Especially when one of the greatest plays on NFL history is on the list.
 

sheamonu

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To that last part, I would add the very Patriot fact of having the star play being made by an undrafted free agent.

This got me thinking of Patriot Super Bowl stars and their place in the football universe coming out of college:
  • Brady (#199 -- plenty of ink has been spilled telling that story)
  • Butler (UDFA)
  • Edelman (7th round)
  • White (4th round)
  • Troy Brown (8th round)
Not a Super Bowl star but Mosi Tatupu was an 8th round draft choice... set the standard early on for special teams play and went to the Pro Bowl.
 

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I'm not moving the goalposts, although there's a decent chance the wind was doing that during the Snow Bowl! But kidding aside, one reason the Vinatieri field goal gets the nod is because it was the precursor to the glory era. Not an event which led to its continuation.
I understand that part of the argument, I just don't find it very compelling. Must the "greatest play" in a run of success have occurred early on in the build-up to that success? Would it be even possible to imagine a play that would be the new "greatest" at this point? I have trouble with any definition that locks in some superlative for all time, I think half the point of athletic achievement is the idea that some measure of greatness might be exceeded by a performance yet to come. Likewise, I don't think we'd necessarily consider the 2001 team to be "the greatest Patriots team of the dynasty", just for having been the first to reach the pinnacle. For me, I think you're choosing between 2004 and 2007 on that one, maybe 2016. So if this criterion gets substantial weight in your mind, I think it's misplaced. Greatness is partly down to the intrinsic nature of the play, and partly down to game context and team context, but if we're going to place such huge weight on arc-of-history context I think a lot of meaning is lost in the debate.

I couldn't find any stats to back this up, but anecdotally, end [zone] interceptions are not uncommon. There have probably been dozens in playoff games alone. The Butler interception was certainly exceptional given the circumstances, but I was referring to the commonality of "end zone interceptions" when compared to "long field goals made during a raging blizzard". Couldn't find data on the frequency of those either, but anecdotally they would have to be far rarer. And in terms of those which changed the arc of an entire franchise's history, well, there's just this one.
Forget stats, how about some examples? Any examples? The comparison isn't "long field goals made during a raging blizzard" vs "end zone interceptions", it's "end zone interceptions made when the play is from the 1 and you're utterly gassed at the very end of the game and you've been beaten on that play 7 times in practice", even leaving aside the massive game-context differences between the plays.

I can think of a lot of end zone INTs on hail marys, or when a team is down multiple scores late and they've got to force it. There's the James Harrison one from the 2 (returned 100 yards), but that was in the first half, and the INT itself wasn't all that great of an individual play (Warner threw it right to him), though the return was spectacular. That one counts as an endzone INT in the playoffs, though. I think the play that Jeremy Lane got injured on in SB51 (thanks, Edelman!) was in the endzone, barely, though it was the 1st quarter. We can probably find a few more, maybe even a few in the super bowl, but I very much doubt you'd find any of comparable significance to Butler's.

If you go by WPA - and I certainly don't have a better metric available - Butler's play is #1 in super bowl history, at 81% WPA. There are only two others (I was wrong) with >50% WPA, one might surprise you but the other won't.
 

Kull

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I can accept the Snow Bowl kick as being very high on the list. Sure, they didn’t win a SB that night but without that remarkable feat, through a swirling snow storm, they don’t have the chance to win the first title. Plus, the nature of the kick itself...just high and long enough...and the beauty of the scene. It all factors in.
The nature of the play absolutely factors in, but there are other things which made this so critical:

1) The kick doesn't go through and the Patriots lose. That directly affects the following:
- No "First Dynasty". Assuming they still win a pair of Super Bowls in 03 and 04, that's not enough to qualify. As a comp, are the 98-99 Elway SB's considered a Denver dynasty? No.
- The remarkable 9-0 playoff record set by Belichick/Brady never happens. It starts with "0-1".
- Bledsoe doesn't come off the bench to lead the Pats to victory in the AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh. Does Buffalo still trade a #1 pick for a quarterback that hasn't played since his injury and hasn't recently demonstrated an ability to perform at the highest level on a very bright stage? Still possible, but it seems unlikely. That pick turned into Ty Warren.

2) Unlike the binary nature of the Vinatieri kick (win or lose), there was at least a chance for the Pats to come back against Seattle even if the pass play went for a TD. There would have been 20 seconds left and the Pats still had a timeout and only need a Field Goal for the tie. So there's other possible outcomes (albeit unlikely) to "INT or Lose"

The thing I take issue is the assertion that it’s number one and all the second place contenders are looking way up.

Especially when one of the greatest plays on NFL history is on the list.
That assertion was in reaction to the many "no discussion needed" posts that were elevating the Butler INT to the top spot and consigning everything else to a distant second. It's safe to say that it all depends on your perspective. As with the Butterfly effect in chaos theory, I see many potential negative outcomes flowing out from a "dynasty delayed" loss in the Snow Bowl. There are no upsides from losing the Butler game either, but at least that one came after the Dynasty had already been established.
 

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The nature of the play absolutely factors in, but there are other things which made this so critical:

1) The kick doesn't go through and the Patriots lose. That directly affects the following:
- No "First Dynasty". Assuming they still win a pair of Super Bowls in 03 and 04, that's not enough to qualify. As a comp, are the 98-99 Elway SB's considered a Denver dynasty? No.
- The remarkable 9-0 playoff record set by Belichick/Brady never happens. It starts with "0-1".
- Bledsoe doesn't come off the bench to lead the Pats to victory in the AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh. Does Buffalo still trade a #1 pick for a quarterback that hasn't played since his injury and hasn't recently demonstrated an ability to perform at the highest level on a very bright stage? Still possible, but it seems unlikely. That pick turned into Ty Warren.

2) Unlike the binary nature of the Vinatieri kick (win or lose), there was at least a chance for the Pats to come back against Seattle even if the pass play went for a TD. There would have been 20 seconds left and the Pats still had a timeout and only need a Field Goal for the tie. So there's other possible outcomes (albeit unlikely) to "INT or Lose"



That assertion was in reaction to the many "no discussion needed" posts that were elevating the Butler INT to the top spot and consigning everything else to a distant second. It's safe to say that it all depends on your perspective. As with the Butterfly effect in chaos theory, I see many potential negative outcomes flowing out from a "dynasty delayed" loss in the Snow Bowl. There are no upsides from losing the Butler game either, but at least that one came after the Dynasty had already been established.
.806 WPA. You're using a lot of words but missing the point. Butler's play is not the greatest play in Patriots history. It's the greatest play in Super Bowl history.
 

Kull

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.806 WPA. You're using a lot of words but missing the point. Butler's play is not the greatest play in Patriots history. It's the greatest play in Super Bowl history.
Then start a new thread. That's not the topic of this one.
 

johnmd20

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Then start a new thread. That's not the topic of this one.
It's the greatest play in Super Bowl history, which makes it the greatest play in NFL history, which certainly makes it the greatest play in Patriots history.
 

Soxy

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The Snow Bowl loss would have been a tough loss in the sense that it was a playoff game and also the last game in the old stadium. But the Pats weren't even favored in that game, and even if they won they still had to go on the road to beat a heavily favored Steeler team and then beat the Greatest Show on Turf, on turf. I mean obviously this ended up being what happened, but I remember watching that Raider game I was totally cool with it when it looked like they were going to lose. Even with a loss in that game the 2001 Pats had wildly exceeded anyone's expectations.
I vividly remember feeling the exact same way right after Woodson came up with the ball. During the entire time between then and when the play was overturned, I remember thinking to myself: "God, that sucks. But what a great season. This Brady kid just finds ways to win games, this new head coach really seems to know what he's doing, we got a solid defense.... this team is building something." I mean, I never for a second expected that call to be overturned. And when it was overturned, I didn't expect Adam V to make that kick. Let alone, like....all of the other stuff that happened afterwards through the Super Bowl. If there were ever such a thing as a Team of Destiny, it was that 2001 Pats team.

But if that call isn't overturned, or Vinatieri misses that kick, and the Pats lose, does anybody really think it changes a whole lot about the other 18 seasons? Around the margins, sure, it would have to. But the overall picture? Honestly, I don't think it changes all that much. That team was going to do special things one way or another. Way too talented, too hard working, too well coached, too well run.

The Pats were going to dominate and become a dynasty either way. I firmly believe this. It just started a year or two ahead of schedule.
 

TheoShmeo

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I vividly remember feeling the exact same way right after Woodson came up with the ball. During the entire time between then and when the play was overturned, I remember thinking to myself: "God, that sucks. But what a great season. This Brady kid just finds ways to win games, this new head coach really seems to know what he's doing, we got a solid defense.... this team is building something." I mean, I never for a second expected that call to be overturned. And when it was overturned, I didn't expect Adam V to make that kick. Let alone, like....all of the other stuff that happened afterwards through the Super Bowl. If there were ever such a thing as a Team of Destiny, it was that 2001 Pats team.

But if that call isn't overturned, or Vinatieri misses that kick, and the Pats lose, does anybody really think it changes a whole lot about the other 18 seasons? Around the margins, sure, it would have to. But the overall picture? Honestly, I don't think it changes all that much. That team was going to do special things one way or another. Way too talented, too hard working, too well coached, too well run.

The Pats were going to dominate and become a dynasty either way. I firmly believe this. It just started a year or two ahead of schedule.
Agreed.

I think it’s noteworthy that the 2002 team missed the playoffs, so it’s not as if the 2001 started something that inexorably lead to the dynasty and that it’s hard to argue that the next two champions won because of the championship DNA the first winner had.

Would two in a row qualify as less of a dynasty than the three out of four? Could be. But it’s hard to isolate just one factor. Maybe Bill’s approach in 2005 and 2006 would have been slightly different had they not won in 2001. I tend to doubt that — each year is the object of his intense desire to win — but little changes on the edges could have had consequences, so you never know.

In any event, I agree with your main point. Bill, Tom and the Pats organization were bound for lots of wins, regardless of 2001.
 
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If the Patriots don't win the Snow Bowl game, I find it impossible to believe that that decreases the odds of BB hitching his wagon to Brady, and instead would've had Brady and Bledsoe battle it out in 2002. No way.
 

Ed Hillel

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By WPA, it's probably the greatest play in sports history, no? At least, big four North American pro sports.
There have to be errors at the end of baseball games that are just as high, if not higher, right? Like dropped pop up with men on 2nd and 3rd when team is up one with two outs in 9th?
 

tims4wins

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By WPA, it's probably the greatest play in sports history, no? At least, big four North American pro sports.
There have to be errors at the end of baseball games that are just as high, if not higher, right? Like dropped pop up with men on 2nd and 3rd when team is up one with two outs in 9th?
I think SN probably means championship probability added. I'm sure there have been bigger swings in WPA. Like (ahem) the Miami Miracle.
 

Ed Hillel

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I think SN probably means championship probability added. I'm sure there have been bigger swings in WPA. Like (ahem) the Miami Miracle.
If you are counting biggest game of the year context...probably depends on if you are only basically including game 7s in championship series in other sports. In that context, I’m not sure I can think of any others on my lifetime.

Rivera’s error in 2000 against the Dbacks is probably up there.
 

johnmd20

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By WPA, it's probably the greatest play in sports history, no? At least, big four North American pro sports.
I wouldn't talk you out of it. The point is, the Butler play is unassailable as the greatest play in Patriots history. Viniatari's kick was amazing and it portended extremely positive things for the Pats, but the fact that it isn't #1, and it really shouldn't be close, proves how incredible the Butler play was.
 

deanx0

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By WPA, it's probably the greatest play in sports history, no? At least, big four North American pro sports.
I know the Cardinals could have finished both Game 6 or showed up for Game 7, but doesn't Denkinger calling Orta safe in the 1985 World Series also merit consideration in the championship probability swing discussion? With the right call, that series is over.
 

axx

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The tackle to prevent the Titans from getting that TD that would have tied the game with no time remaining?
 

johnmd20

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If you are counting biggest game of the year context...probably depends on if you are only basically including game 7s in championship series in other sports. In that context, I’m not sure I can think of any others on my lifetime.

Rivera’s error in 2000 against the Dbacks is probably up there.
Kirk Gibson's homer was an .87 swing. But that was game 1. Joe Carter's homer was a .66 swing. Huge, because that ended the deal.
 

Ed Hillel

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Runner stayed at second on Rivera’s error, I thought he had gone to third. So that’s gotta be out.
 

tims4wins

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Kirk Gibson's homer was an .87 swing. But that was game 1. Joe Carter's homer was a .66 swing. Huge, because that ended the deal.
And Joe Carter's HR game in game 6. So even with a loss, their championship probability was still in the 50% range.
 

tims4wins

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The tackle to prevent the Titans from getting that TD that would have tied the game with no time remaining?
You can't isolate the tackle from the rest of the play. The situation was 1st and goal from the 10 with 5 seconds left and no timeouts. I don't know what the Rams win probability was going into the play, but I am sure it was well above 50%, and the tackle sealed the deal, but the WPA from that play was probably more like 30% if I had to guess.

Edit: and the Rams had a 7 point lead. Assuming the Titans would have kicked the PAT, it would have just gone to OT, where their odds would have been 50% or so.

Edit 2: Pro Football Reference tells me the Rams had a 80.39% of winning going into that play
 

HowBoutDemSox

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Which added a greater WPA, Millar’s walk, Roberts’ steal, or Mueller’s single? If I’m reading Baseball Reference correctly, Millar’s walk added 14%, Roberts’ steal added 11%, and Mueller’s single added 25%. So Roberts’ was the third most impactful play of the inning, to say nothing of the game (Ortiz’s walk off was 27%), the series, the postseason run, or the franchise’s history.

But I won’t begrudge anyone who wants to regard that steal as the greatest play in Red Sox history. It’s a subjective measure that includes more than the mathematical calculation of a play’s import. Things like momentum, moment in history, impact on franchise trajectory, individuals involved and circumstances unique to a particular play can be included, too. For some, those factors will only enhance Butler’s pick, but also could be considered to elevate Vinitiari’s field goal too. So, I’m not too high on using WPA to settle this argument.