Just in Case: Let’s Get Nostalgic About the Last 20 Years

koufax32

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Apologies if this is seen as bad juju.

The NFL will never see a run like this again. As Patriots fans, we’ll probably never see anything approaching this again. There were some awesome highs that have far outshined the lows. So wax nostalgic with me what are favorite:

1. Season
2. Moment
3. non-Brady player

of this era?


Season: It’s really close but I’d say 2016. Brady gets suspended for science, three QB’s lead us to wins, the season ends with a SB win for the ages that causes weeping from people who were dancing on NE’a grave 1 hour earlier. A close 2nd was 2014.

Moment: 3 corners, Malcolm, go! The euphoria of victory being snatched from inevitable, familiar defeat plus the weight of that monkey coming off the back...perfection.

Non-TB12: Troy Brown was perfectly symbolic of the culture BB was cultivated here.
 

Soxy

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I can't possibly imagine that I'll ever see anything that beats Malcolm Butler's interception. When you consider everything involved around it...... that's incredibly hard to top, ever, in any sports moment. It single handedly swung certain defeat into certain victory, in the biggest game of the season. And it meant even more than that, as we all know.

Best season, I'm going to go all the way back to 2004. It really should be 2007, but they couldn't close the deal.

That 2004 team was so dominant. They had the Halloween massacre at Pittsburgh, when Ty Law got lost for the season and just about everything went wrong. Then they had that bizarre Monday night loss to Miami, when Brady probably threw what is still to this day the worst pass of his life. Outside of those two games, they were basically indestructible. And it piggybacked on top of the glorious 2004 Red Sox playoff run, which can't be discounted.

Non-Brady player, I have to go Gronk. Maybe I shouldn't. But I shall.
 

slamminsammya

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The Butler interception is probably the greatest play in any sport I have ever seen. And maybe one of the most joyful moments of my life.

My favorite season was probably 2014 also. The great comeback against the Ravens, followed by an epic ass whupping of the Colts and then that incredible super bowl.
 

CaptainLaddie

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Favorite season: 2004. Just an insanely likeable group combined with where I was in my life (post-college, bartending, just being free).

Favorite moment/game: as much as I loved Butler's pick, that was so fucking tense and awful that I could barely enjoy it in the moments it happened (other than -- according to my wife after Butler's pick I kicked the front door to our house open and yelled "TOM FUCKING BRADY!" to her enormous embarrassment). because it was so sudden. Watching Jerome Kearse catch the ball in insane fashion literally gave me tunnel vision and I probably came close to blacking out for a moment.

So, for me it was the 28-3 "moment". It's the greatest comeback ever. It's what cemented TB12 as the GOAT. It's where even the people I know who hate the Patriots with the fire of a million burning suns just shrugged and said, "fuck it, whatever, he's the best." It was a vindication of everything -- Deflategate, Spygate, etc. It was the ultimate victory -- if I had to pick a moment IN that game, it was obviously Jules' catch. God damn.

Favorite player: Gronk. The most universally liked player of the BB/TB era, even the Pats haters still really liked him.
 
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Caspir

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When this run started, I was 17 years old and had just graduated from high school. I have a family now including a third grader. The craziest thing about this run is that you have literally been able to pass down the winning to your kids without missing a beat. It’s mind blowing. My son didn’t understand that last night meant the season was over. He thinks we just play in the fucking Super Bowl because it’s us.

When they won their first one, I had no idea how to celebrate. AV made the kick and I sprung out of my seat, jumped into my car and drove directly downtown. I pulled up to chaos, cars rocking, police horses navigating between cars, people literally everywhere. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, especially growing up in Boston where my peak sports experience was watching the Packers curb stomp us in eighth grade, and getting to watch Pedro dominate but ultimately fall short because he had no support.

Like Laddie, that ‘04 team was the defining roster of this dynasty because I was young and in a place where I could soak in the moments. Corey Dillon, Rodney, Big Sey, fans chanting “Cut that meat!” at Peyton as we dispensed of the Colts yet again, Bruschi’s “You wanna change the rules,” post game. Ugh, just pure euphoria.

Favorite moment is tough. Watching us end the Raiders season in the snow game and the ensuing snow angels, the fans throwing snowballs after Bruschi’s big play, Malcolm, Jules catch, Rodney flying like an Eagle after sealing the game.

Favorite non Brady player is tough to single out as well, but I’ll go with Rodney for the way he came in and embraced New England, giving birth to the dreaded “Patriot Way.” Love that guy.

I was talking to my wife last week, and if someone made a box set for this dynasty (think Three Games to Glory, Do Your Job, plus next level stuff including TB, BB and other players and personnel doing interviews that takes the totality of this run and rolls into a box set) I’d pay a lot of money to buy it and I’d watch it often. But they can’t make it yet because Tom Brady will be back, and we will win seven for him. Then they can make the fucking retrospective. All I know is this team (and Brady and Belichick in particular) have given me about four lifetimes of fan memories and I will never experience anything like this again.
 

ilol@u

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Season: 2014.

After losing to the Broncos in 2013, there was something different about the 2014 season. The Patriots signed Darrell Revis and expectations were sky high. It had the infamous Monday Night Football game @ KC in week 4, where it was a blowout and the narrative changed that the Patriots/Brady are done. And then it was onto Cincinnati.

Fast forward to the playoffs. They beat Baltimore in a game they were down 14 points TWICE. And then Deflategate happened.

It just seemed that the NE region and the Patriots were so angry and rallied around each other. And after coming up short in heartbreaking Superbowls twice, and not winning a championship in a decade, it looked grim down 10 points vs the Legion of Boom.

And Brady became Tom fucking Brady, which cemented his legacy as the GOAT. Two consecutive TD drives and then the greatest sporting moment of my life with the Malcolm Butler INT.

Moment:

Malcolm Butler INT.

Non-Brady Player:

Randy Moss (2007).
After experiencing small possession receivers for 7 years like David Givens, Troy Brown, Deion Branch, it was an absolute joy to watch what a monster Randy Moss was. What he did with Brady in that 2.5 years will forever go down as the biggest "What If?". What if Tom Brady didn't get injured in 2008. What if Randy Moss didn't get traded? Randy did things the right way and I'm still upset that they weren't able to get him a Superbowl ring.
 
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Ale Xander

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1. Season - the first one
2. Moment, AV kicks (Raiders/Rams or Butler, 1 and 1A and 1C)
3. Non-Brady Player: Gronk Gronk Gronk (Law or McGinest on defense and Troy Brown as a man of 3 phases and being short like I am). There's too many to name. I love the 3rd down backs too. JRR (never forget your first, we don't get #1 without him and Brady being on same page), Faulk and White also belong in the discussion.
I actually like most of them more than Brady.
 

Humphrey

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Some of my favorite memories, non Super Bowl related:
1. Getting trashed by the Bills, 31-0, in the 2003 opener and getting even more trashed by the press (Nick Cafardo, God rest his soul, leading the charge on that one) for letting Lawyer Milloy and Drew Bledsoe go to the Bills. Then, in the season finale, beating the Bills by the identical score with home field on the line.
2. Shutting down the Colts in the playoffs in 2003 and 2004.
3. Winning in MIami in overtime after many failures down there with Bill throwing his clipboard in the air after the game winning bomb to Troy Brown.
4. The game the Texans showed up in their "lettermen" jackets and the Pats absolutely killed them.
5. Winning a game with their third string QB.
 

grsharky7

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So many seasons, moments, and players to choose from. Outside of the Super Bowl years I'd say 2010 was my favorite season. They got killed in Cleveland and Gronk had an awful game, then they went to Pittsburgh on a Sunday night and destroyed the Steelers with Gronk having 3 TD catches (I was there and it was awesome). After that they just rolled through the regular season and curb stomped everyone. That team was just outclassing everyone, I know it ended badly but what a fun team to watch.

Favorite moment, the second two point conversion in SB 51. I was certain they would score the TD and miss not the conversion like in Denver the year before. They scored and there was that ten seconds of confusion because there was a flag. When I saw Edelman flex at Danny I knew it was good and the game was tied.

Other great moments:
-Every Daron Harmon game ending INT.
-Butt Fumble
-Dan Connolly kickoff return
-Sunday night comeback against Denver in 2013.
-Troy Brown forced fumble in SD in 2006 divisional game.
-Saints game in 2013, Brady to Thompkins at the end. (Same night as Papi's grand slam against the Tigers).
-Gronk's one handed catch vs Denver in 2014.
-Welker's 99 yard TD catch in Week 1 vs Miami in 2011.
-Cundiff's missed FG in the AFC title game.
-Wilfork INT
 

Koufax

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Season -2007, even though it ended bitterly, the domination during the season was spectacular.

Moment: Roger Goodell handing TB12 the Superbowl trophy in February 2017 - the ultimate FU on Deflategate.

Non-TB player - Troy Brown, who was good in all three phases of the game.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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I’ve actually only seen the Pats play at Gillette once (a delightful Monday Night beatdown if the Jets), but I was on hand in person for two of the great moments you could ever want to see.

One was the Butler interception — I was in the opposite end zone so I really couldn’t make out what happened in real time except for the Pats D inexplicably dancing around in delight. When I saw the replay on the big screen at the stadium, my jaw dropped like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

The other one happened right in front of me and I had a perfect view: Butt-Fumble. There at MetLife with my boys and we all howled with laughter and jumped and hugged and laughed some more. We can still make each other laugh just by referring to it. Glorious.

Non-TB12 player is Gronk. Wasn’t easy for a Patriots player to be universally respected and liked...he was simply too great and too good natured to be buried by the hate.
 

Fisks Of Fury

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I'll preface this with the fact that I'm old, which will probably explain my picks.

Season: 01-02. the first one is still the sweetest for me. Completely unexpected. My grandfather had died in 2000, after a lifetime of passionate rooting for all Boston teams, but getting the call minutes after the Superbowl win from my grandmother, who had never really cared about football, knowing that she watched it for/"with" him is still a fantastic memory. And I still get a little choked up when I hear "Beautiful Day" because of the season montage video that came out right after the win.

Moment: The Tuck Rule game. My (eventual) wife and I were in the stands, and had gotten up and started leaving after the "fumble" when the announcer indicted that the play was being reviewed. Watchng the whole stadium, stop, turn around and hold their collective breath, and then eventually celebrate AVs kick...

Non-TB12 Player: No contest. Troy Brown.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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I was a college Sophomore when the run started. I still remember reading this after Bledsoe got hurt.
http://web.archive.org/web/20111228105918/http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/news/2001/09/25/power_rankings/
New England Patriots (0-2)
This is sad. Drew Bledsoe took a big hit and is out indefinitely. Honestly, I don't know what weapons they have with which to win a game.
The expectations of that team were so incredibly low. And to end the year as the fucking SB champs is still almost unbelievable. And to reign for nearly 20 years!!!! It should not have happened.

Season: Despite the ending, the 2007 was my favorite season. Living in Southie, going to the bars for almost every game and watching them absolutely dominate was so much fun. The bombs to Moss while he was drawing triple-team coverage were insane.

Moment: The Butler interception changed everything. They now had a bookend to the dynasty (and who knew it would continue for the next 5 years or so?). But the Butler INT is a all-time moment that belongs to the NFL, not just Patriot fans. My favorite "Pats only" moment was during the first Super Bowl. After Brady spiked the ball, how it came up perfectly in his hands. He was not yet TB12, but the coolness of that gave me the chills then and still does today.

Player: Moss deserves mention, but his time here was too short. I want to say Kevin Faulk, but his suspension led to Brady missing a year. The answer is Gronk. The only Patriot that could dominate the league as much as Brady.
 

Deathofthebambino

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Apr 12, 2005
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I missed one Patriots home game, including the playoffs from 1996-2013. Something like 170 out of 171 games (I had a kid one weekend in November, so well, I missed one). I was at games in the old stadium with like 8,000 people, i was there when the toilets broke, fights, and everything in between.

So for me, my list is a lot like Fisks of Furys. That 2001 season was basically a long dream sequence. From BB keeping 4 QB's on the roster (remember the Michael Bishop discussions the year before?), to the Mo Lewis hit, the snow bowl, Brady getting hurt against Pittsburgh and Bledsoe coming in and dropping some huge dimes, then beating the Greatest Show on Turf in the biggest upset in Super Bowl history. 2001 was where it all started.

Favorite moment I ever saw in person was the Snow Bowl/Tuck Rule game. Unlike most, I didn't leave my seat after the fumble. I sat there, at the 40 yard line, about 20 rows from the field, screaming my head off "It's reviewable, it's the new Tuck Rule, BILL, CHALLENGE IT!!!" It seemed like a full 2-3 minutes before the PA Announcer came back and said "the play is under review." At that point, everyone just stopped and stood where they were and most stayed there for the rest of the game. In one of the videos that came out after the season, there is a shot of me, sitting in the middle of the bleachers by myself with about 8 inches of snow and I sat there by myself until the end of the game and then lost my mind.

Favorite non-Brady player: Pretty much all of them, but in recent years, it's Matthew Slater. I've always loved special teams guys and I don't know how you can't love him. I'm not religious, but the guy runs the bible study group for the team every week, in which like 40-50 players show up on a weekly basis. I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with Slater due to a charity auction thing in which we got to spend a night at Gillette with about 20 friends and he was our host, and he was literally the nicest human being I've ever met. My other guy, although he missed the Dynasty, as his last season was 2000 with the Pats, was a guy named Larry Whigham. I fucking loved Larry Whigham. Picking other guys amongst playerrs like Troy Brown, Gronk, Ty Law, Bruschi, Vrabel, Seymour, etc. is like trying to pick between my kids.
 

tims4wins

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Favorite season: I'll go with 2003. Sometime midway through that season you just had to embrace that they would win by any means necessary - like the 19-13 OT win in Miami, 9-3 over the Browns, 12-0 over Dallas (and Miami), 17-6 over the Giants... but also 38-30 over the Titans and 38-34 over the Colts. I specifically remember watching that Colts game with a group of friends, I think the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which was awesome. I was living in Houston of all places at the time, that same group of friends came down for the regular season OT win against the Texans, then they came down again for the Super Bowl - which I went to. I also flew up for the divisional game in the frigid weather vs. the Titans. So magical year personally, and I also just loved that defense. Ted Washington was incredible that year.

Favorite moment: has to be Butler for me. I just remember being slumped into the couch. Watching the game alone. Feeling all hope was lost. And then falling off the couch when he picked it off. It simply wasn't real.

Favorite non-Brady player: while I had a Seymour jersey starting in 2003, Rodney was my favorite player from the first half of the dynasty. The toughness, leadership, and "nobody believes in us" that he brought was awesome. And similarly, from the second half of the dynasty, I would choose Edelman. As Zo calls him, the "iron man". Just tough as nails. His off-field schtick can be a little annoying sometimes, but the dude has just worked and worked for 10 years and is just the toughest offensive skill position player I think I have ever seen. I love that man.

Edit: the double pass against Baltimore is also up there for me. It nearly felt like the 2014 postseason had ended before it even started. That play gave me renewed hope.
 
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The Social Chair

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Favorite season: 2007. Randy Moss was my favorite football player and I had been following him since Marshall. To see him join my favorite team and become a Batman and Superman duo with Brady was unbelievable.

A close 2nd was 2014. The wait between titles was tough and there were 2 phony scandals as well. Brady and Belichick needed that title.

Favorite moment: The Butler pick. The emotional rollercoaster of that drive will never be matched again.

Favorite non Brady player: Moss, Ty Law, and Troy Brown.

Favorite non Belichick coach
: Dante and Flores. I was not a fan of Patricia and couldn't have been happier to have Flores take over.
 

Fisks Of Fury

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Favorite moment I ever saw in person was the Snow Bowl/Tuck Rule game. Unlike most, I didn't leave my seat after the fumble. I sat there, at the 40 yard line, about 20 rows from the field, screaming my head off "It's reviewable, it's the new Tuck Rule, BILL, CHALLENGE IT!!!" It seemed like a full 2-3 minutes before the PA Announcer came back and said "the play is under review." At that point, everyone just stopped and stood where they were and most stayed there for the rest of the game. In one of the videos that came out after the season, there is a shot of me, sitting in the middle of the bleachers by myself with about 8 inches of snow and I sat there by myself until the end of the game and then lost my mind.
That's exactly what happened to us, we had just gathered our stuff up and started to walk up the stairs to the back of the end-zone, and when the announcer came on, we immediately stopped, and slid into the nearest row, sat down, and watched the rest from there. The end of that game was much better than the beginning for us, as we got stuck in a mad crush of people, backed up trying to get through the more stringent security lines, and missed kickoff. But the drive home, even though it was north on route 1 at the time, was euphoric! I've got an AV-autographed picture of his kick in the snow to win it, with our ticket stubs, in my office. There have been an insane number of great games and moments since then, but that was the one that cemented my love for the team, and finally getting the call off the season ticket waitlist when they opened Gillette the following season made it all the better.
 

BigSoxFan

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Favorite Season: Obviously lots of good ones to pick but I'm going with 2007 even though the ending sucked. The level of hatred after Spygate was so intense and the way they just absolutely destroyed teams early on was so cathartic. That season included big wins in Indianapolis and Dallas, which are always fun teams to beat and 2 wins in New York. A close second is 2016 season which featured more bogus scandals and the Brady F You tour, which culminated in the most dramatic comeback in SB history and Brady becoming the undisputed GOAT.

Favorite Moment: Easily the Butler interception. Nothing else really comes close. That one play just changed everything. Prevented 3 straight SB losses and the continuation of a decade of playoff blue balls as well as giving Brady the 4th he needed to get the GOAT conversations going. And to top it off, it happened after the Deflategate stuff so it pissed the country off so much. The level of bitterness in NYC after that win was so high. Malcolm will be a hero forever for me.

Favorite Non-Brady Player: Again, so many to choose from but I'm going with James White. So dependable and just quietly goes about his business. My brother actually got to speak with him for a bit in the days after the SB win against the Falcons and said he was basically the nicest guy ever, another Slater type.
 

Captaincoop

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Favorite Season: 2001. That felt imaginary. I'm still not sure any of this happened.
Favorite Moment: Troy Brown ripping back the intercepted ball from the Chargers to keep the Pats alive in 2006. Even though they lost the next week (my #2 worst moment after the Scottish Game), that play was a perfect microcosm of how the Pats were indomitable, even when not at their absolute strongest.
Favorite Non-Brady Player: Impossible to choose from among Troy Brown, McGinest, Bruschi, Wilfork, Edelman, Gronk, Hightower, and several others.
 

NortheasternPJ

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So many seasons, moments, and players to choose from. Outside of the Super Bowl years I'd say 2010 was my favorite season. They got killed in Cleveland and Gronk had an awful game, then they went to Pittsburgh on a Sunday night and destroyed the Steelers with Gronk having 3 TD catches (I was there and it was awesome). After that they just rolled through the regular season and curb stomped everyone. That team was just outclassing everyone, I know it ended badly but what a fun team to watch.

Favorite moment, the second two point conversion in SB 51. I was certain they would score the TD and miss not the conversion like in Denver the year before. They scored and there was that ten seconds of confusion because there was a flag. When I saw Edelman flex at Danny I knew it was good and the game was tied.

Other great moments:
-Every Daron Harmon game ending INT.
-Butt Fumble
-Dan Connolly kickoff return
-Sunday night comeback against Denver in 2013.
-Troy Brown forced fumble in SD in 2006 divisional game.
-Saints game in 2013, Brady to Thompkins at the end. (Same night as Papi's grand slam against the Tigers).
-Gronk's one handed catch vs Denver in 2014.
-Welker's 99 yard TD catch in Week 1 vs Miami in 2011.
-Cundiff's missed FG in the AFC title game.
-Wilfork INT
The Cundiff miss was a glorious moment in the stadium.

View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3nURz04Y9s8
 

RSN Diaspora

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When this run started, I was 17 years old and had just graduated from high school. I have a family now including a third grader. The craziest thing about this run is that you have literally been able to pass down the winning to your kids without missing a beat. It’s mind blowing. My son didn’t understand that last night meant the season was over. He thinks we just play in the fucking Super Bowl because it’s us.
This is the perfect yin to my childhood yang: unlike your son, when I was in the third grade, it was 1985. We had just moved from Boston to the DC suburbs, and I was utterly confused by all my new friends talking about watching the Redskins on the upcoming Sunday. I didn’t know how they could know the ‘Skins were going to be on—because so many Pats games were blacked out, I just thought you got a random game on TV every week. That they would go from this to the league’s dominant franchise for two decades would’ve been absurd to contemplate.

Favorite Season: like most, I go with 2007. They were just fun to watch and there was never a point where I thought they wouldn’t win the Lombardi.

Favorite Moment: I’m kinda surprised no one else went with this—in the words of Gil Santos: “Alright, Ken Walter will hold, Lonie Paxton will snap, from the far hash mark angled to the left for Adam Vinatieri, a 48-yard field goal attempt. Set to go...snap, ball down, kick is up, kick is on the way and it is...GOOD! IT'S GOOD! IT'S GOOD! Adam Vinatieri booms a 48 yard field goal and the game is over! And the Patriots are Super Bowl champions! The Patriots are Super Bowl champions! The best team in the National Football League! Adam Vinatieri, 48 yards, OHHHH BABY!"

Favorite Non-Brady Player: Hard to choose between Troy Brown and Teddy Bruschi, but one of them.
 

Humphrey

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Things you forget....Balt had a time out left and unnecessarily rushed the fg team onto the field...why? Did they think the Pats would call their own time out and ice Cundiff? What were they saving the time out for?
 

grsharky7

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Things you forget....Balt had a time out left and unnecessarily rushed the fg team onto the field...why? Did they think the Pats would call their own time out and ice Cundiff? What were they saving the time out for?
I remember there being some controversy about the play clock as they were coming out and they rushed it. Doesn’t explain why they didn’t call a timeout though.
 

koufax32

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In the same vein as Butt Fumble, the Gronk TD in Indy and Throw Him Outta the Club were perfect. Two plays that begin and end the discussion of who the best TE ever was that happened against that joke of a franchise. In both instances I just laughed like watching peak Pedro just embarrassing opponents.
 

P'tucket rhymes with...

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The thing I love most about the Butler pick, which is my favorite moment, is that afterwards it came out that they game planned for that exact play. The success was never about the "cheating," favoritism, or any other bullshit thing. It's because they were routinely exponentially better prepared than their opponents on any given Sunday.
 

NortheasternPJ

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I remember there being some controversy about the play clock as they were coming out and they rushed it. Doesn’t explain why they didn’t call a timeout though.
I’m not sure on the time out but IIRC either the sticks on the sideline or scoreboard showed the wrong down on 3rd down and they didn’t realize it was 4th down. Plus they were probably flustered after Sterling Moore stripped the go ahead TD.

The comment above about the crowd was the game was over. Moore saved it twice and then the missed FG. It was glorious.
 

Euclis20

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It's hard to ever top the Butler pick, but here's another that I haven't seen mentioned yet:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHvSfHkn5JQ


For me, Law's pick 6 in SB 36 was the moment that it became clear that the Pats could actually win that game. I will never forget him raising his arm as he ran down the sideline for the score, that was the single most exciting sports moment of my lifetime up to that point (I was 18).
 

lexrageorge

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Favorite Season: This one takes some thought, but I still recall the 2003 one fondly. Most people were writing them off to start the season ("they hate their coach"), and there were a ton of injuries early in the season as well. But somehow they fought through it after that opening fiasco against Buffalo. It started with a convincing win against Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. Then a win in the home opener against the defending AFC East champion NY Jets (!). Then the obligatory WTF game against the sad-sack Redskins to go 2-2. After that however, the team slowly and inexorably advanced through every obstacle thrown in their way: beating the Titans led by Steve McNair and Eddie George; winning in OT in Miami after the Marlins playoff run caused the Dolphin kicker to miss an easy FG; beating Denver in Denver on a Monday night after taking an intentional safety; shutting out Parcells and the Cowboys; stuffing the Edgerrin James and the Colts on the 1-inch line; beating the Titans again on a night with subzero win chills; and beating up Colts's receivers and unveiling the "Manning face". Then of course winning the Super Bowl again on Adam's foot.

Favorite Moment: The Butler pick was probably the most "turnaround" play in league history when it comes to win probabilities. And it is the one play in Boston sports history that can rival Bobby Orr's Goal and The Stolen Base (and, for old timer Celtics fans, The Steal) in terms of iconic moments in Boston sports history. However, I still say my personal favorite was Gil Santos and Gino calling the Field Goal in New Orleans. Honorable mention to Zolak's call of the winning TD against the Falcons.

Favorite Player: I cannot decide between Troy Brown; Vince Wilfork; and Gronk.
 

DeadlySplitter

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Season: I was a bit too young to appreciate the first 3 championships fully, so I'll go 2014. that whole postseason run was insane.

Moment: don't make me choose one... Edelman's SB51 catch felt like the scales finally balancing on SB luck

Player: Gronk
 

BaseballJones

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Season: I mean, 2001 - there's nothing like the first time. But I think 2014, beating Seattle and FINALLY getting that elusive fourth ring.

Moment: The Butler pick and the Vinatieri snow game kick. But let's be honest: there are SO many great ones from which to choose. I mean, it's an absolute smorgasbord.

Player: Gronk, then Bruschi and Slater
 

dirtynine

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Some of the "quieter" moments that I'll always lean on, above and beyond what's been stressed here:

- Beating the Chargers via Troy Brown in 2006-07. When I started to rely on the idea that things would keep working out.
- Brady beating the Saints at home in 2013 with a last-minute TD to Kenbrell Thompkins. Same day as the Ortiz slam vs. the Tigers. The epitome of a Boston sports day.
 

m0ckduck

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1. Getting trashed by the Bills, 31-0, in the 2003 opener and getting even more trashed by the press (Nick Cafardo, God rest his soul, leading the charge on that one) for letting Lawyer Milloy and Drew Bledsoe go to the Bills. Then, in the season finale, beating the Bills by the identical score with home field on the line.
Glad to see this moment called out. A few more like this— not directly implicated in winning Lombardis, but quietly characteristic of the last 20 years:

1. 2003 @IND: stuffing the Colts on 1st and goal from the 1 yard line with the game on the line. Sums up two decades of winning situational football at key moments.

2. 2002 season finale: Brady leads comeback against Miami in what turns out to be a meaningless game, as Pats lose playoff tie-breaker. Confirmation that Brady was NEVER going to let the team go quietly into the night.

3. 2015 week 2, @BUF. This one has mostly been forgotten, but was quietly a regular season favorite for me. The Bills under Rex Ryan were talking all kinds of crap and dying for a win over Brady, and came into the game only one-point home underdogs after thrashing Indy the week before. Pats basically killed them with composure, weathering an opening TD drive from Buffalo (crowd going bananas) and then answered with a TD two drives later. Buffalo collapsed in a storm of mistakes, including a key unsportsmanlike penalty play on Ryan himself from the sidelines, eventually falling behind 31-13. Kyle Williams complained after the game that the Bills had played emotionally out-of-control, directly implicating Ryan. A great example of how BB teams have come our emotionally prepared and even-keeled from one game to the next.

4. 2003: Intentional Safety versus Broncos. An early example of Belichick rewriting the rule book on situational coaching (later seen in more significant moments, such as not calling timeout at the end of SB 51, etc).
 

Papo The Snow Tiger

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Season 2001 - My Dad passed away in June of 2001, and I spent that whole summer just kind of moping around, just going through the motions. Then that September , just after the 11th, I met the woman who would go on to become my wife. That was the first good thing that happened to me after my Dad's passing, and coupling the Pats ascendance with meeting the right one made it a very special time for me. Mrs. Papo is a VERY big Pats fan, maybe even more so than me, and last night we were talking about how the Pats dynasty started when we got together.

Moment - Tebucky Jones interception and return for a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVI. When that happened I realized that for the first time my team could actually win a championship.

Non-Brady player - Gronk. He could just do it all. Plus he had a kids TV show on Nickelodeon called "Crashletes", which was a version of "America's Funniest Videos" featuring sports screwups. Mrs. Papo and I have a daughter, and somehow she found the show on her own and was a regular viewer. Gronk was her favorite player up until he retired and a couple of Christmas' ago we got her one of those name/number tee shirts with #87. She still wears it to school every Friday just to piss off her Jets fan assistant principal. Honorable metion goes to Troy Brown. I loved it how he played DB when needed in 2001.
 

loshjott

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When I was stewing in my bed late Saturday night after the loss, my mind for some reason focused on two things: Holy crap, the Patriots actually won a Super Bowl after trailing 28-3 in the 2nd half!

And a single play that I don't think has been mentioned here: Edelman getting absolutely creamed and likely concussed by Kam Chancellor in the 4th quarter during the XLIX comeback. It was 3rd and 14, he holds onto the ball, stays upright, and runs for about 10 more yards. That play epitomizes Edelman even more than the other SB heroics, IMO.
 

BaseballJones

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When I was stewing in my bed late Saturday night after the loss, my mind for some reason focused on two things: Holy crap, the Patriots actually won a Super Bowl after trailing 28-3 in the 2nd half!

And a single play that I don't think has been mentioned here: Edelman getting absolutely creamed and likely concussed by Kam Chancellor in the 4th quarter during the XLIX comeback. It was 3rd and 14, he holds onto the ball, stays upright, and runs for about 10 more yards. That play epitomizes Edelman even more than the other SB heroics, IMO.
And Chancellor should have been penalized for that. The most obvious helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver I've ever seen. Right out in the wide open, every official on the field looking right at it.
 

Ralphwiggum

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A few random thoughts in the spirit of the thread although not necessarily responsive to the OP's questions:

2001: I was 29 at the time, no kids, and had been tinkering around with the idea to write a short book or something called "My Team Never Wins" about how the Boston teams just always seemed to come up short when it mattered the most. That year was just so magical, they were not the best team by any stretch but that was just the epitome of team football. Then in about 10 horrifying minutes in the 2nd half of the Super Bowl I thought I'd have another chapter to add to my book. It was so unfair to lose that way again, and who knows when they would ever get that chance again? When Adam's kick was good it just seemed to change everything about what was possible in Boston sports.

2003: I was at the last game of the season against the Bills, the 31-0 revenge game. I remember tailgating before the game with a bunch of random Pats fans and everyone was pretty much in shock that the Pats were 13-2, with a chance for a 14-2 record and had already secured the bye and the #1 seed. Yeah, they had won the Super Bowl in 2001, but 14-2 and the #1 seed? That's like Cowboys and 49ers stuff, not the Patriots. We might make the playoffs here and there and even snag a bye on occasion, but we don't go 14-2. The most wins the team had ever had before that season was 11. 2001 was great, but now we are showing it wasn't a fluke.

2007: the greatest team I've ever seen. Unfortunately I was at the Scottish Game which was probably my most painful experience as a sports fan. But man they just absolutely laid the league to waste that year. Fucking helmet catch.

2014: It seems ridiculous to even say it, but I wanted that 4th title for Bill and Tom more than I think I wanted anything other than maybe the 2004 Sox. I have a signed picture of Butler in mid-interception hanging in my basement. My at the time 12 year old daughter became a super fan that night, maybe the happiest I have ever seen her, and I'll never forget watching that game with her. (Side note: She is 17 now and texted me from bed after the game on Saturday asking me if this really means the Pats are out and can't make the Super Bowl, THAT is how ridiculous spoiled our children are for this team).

There's so much more I could write. I've mentioned this before but I went to college in Maine so we were outside of the blackout area and actually got to watch the Pats home games. My buddies and I used to sit there and drink beer and laugh hysterically at how bad they were, particularly the Rod Rust year. The last 20 years have just been so much more than I ever thought we'd get, and it's lasted way, way, longer than any of us deserve. I don't know if it is over or not, but if it is the transition back into being a fan of just another franchise is going to be rough.
 

Ralphwiggum

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Also, I'll add one favorite moment that I don't think has been mentioned, the 2014 Divisional Game against the Ravens which I had the privilege to be at. Baltimore seemed to have the Pats number in the playoffs, and had a 14 point lead in that game twice. The double pass was insane (side note: I was taking a piss when it happened, fucking fuck) and Brady's throw to LaFell was IMO one of the best throws of his career all things considered. It was also a cold weather game which I love, and Gillette was fucking electric. A great win that easily could have gone the other way if this team isn't so freakin' resilient.
 

tims4wins

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Also, I'll add one favorite moment that I don't think has been mentioned, the 2014 Divisional Game against the Ravens which I had the privilege to be at. Baltimore seemed to have the Pats number in the playoffs, and had a 14 point lead in that game twice. The double pass was insane (side note: I was taking a piss when it happened, fucking fuck) and Brady's throw to LaFell was IMO one of the best throws of his career all things considered. It was also a cold weather game which I love, and Gillette was fucking electric. A great win that easily could have gone the other way if this team isn't so freakin' resilient.
I mentioned the double pass when I edited my original post - the 2014 playoffs were almost over before they started, but when they hit that double pass, it was, ok, I BELIEVE
 

8slim

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In terms of moments, when the Pats were announced as a team prior to Super Bowl 36, I (a) got goosebumps, and (b) had a feeling of confidence that I literally never, ever, ever had before in a lifetime of watching this team.

As for seasons, 2014 stands out, because it was the first run to a championship that I was able to experience with my kids, who were 11 and 7 at the time.

That also covers a moment as well, since we were watching that Super Bowl at a neighbor's party, and when Butler made the pick I grabbed both kids in a bear hug and swung them around the living room in exhilaration. An unforgettable moment on many levels.
 

Garshaparra

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It's gotta be 2001. Besides the Big 3 Celtics, I'd grown up a fan of three Boston teams that ebbed and flowed. There were great seasons (86 Sox/Pats, 90 Sox/Bs), and great stars (Tippett and Bledsoe, Clemens and Mo Vaughn and Pedro and NOMAAAAH, Bourque and Neely), but so many playoff failures that perpetual underdog status was worn on our sleeves. We were so starved of championships that, in June 2001, 20,000 people showed up to cheer the Stanley Cup...after Ray Bourque brought it home from Colorado, the most Boston sports moment of all.

Of course the Pats were going to lose SB36. We were facing The Greatest Show On Turf, unstoppable weapons that had cruised to a Super Bowl just two years prior. We were the doormats that would politely lose to greatness, as we'd done to the Favre Packers and the '86 Bears before. The Super Bowl appearance was a consolation prize. But then...it wasn't. The defense dominated, the offense kept it close, and as Vinatieri's kick sailed through the uprights, we were world champions. This made no sense!

The hangover year of 2002 made it seem like it was all a fluke, with good Sox and Pats teams both failing to make the playoffs, and the Bruins losing to Montreal in the first round. We were back to being doormats. But then it all came together in 2003-04, as the brain trusts and bank accounts finally coming together to merge homegrown talent and key free agents into champions for the region. We competed, and more often than not, we won. That set the tone for all Boston sports teams for the ensuing 15 years. The Sox put it together 4 times. Danny put together The 2nd Big 3 and took a championship (and nearly a second). The goddamn B's even pulled off a title. I like to think it was all thanks to Bill Belichick setting the blueprint, and the teams and fans following it to glory. Here's to Two Decades of Titletown

Favorite Non-Brady player: Matthew Slater. He's the ultimate scholar athlete, brilliant and physically dominant at an unheralded position for over a decade. No Patriot ever Did His Job better.

Best play: Troy Brown's scoop and lateral to Antwan Harris after a blocked FG in the 2001 AFCCG against the Steelers. View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlrSbMEgYZE
 

OurF'ingCity

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In terms of moments, when the Pats were announced as a team prior to Super Bowl 36, I (a) got goosebumps, and (b) had a feeling of confidence that I literally never, ever, ever had before in a lifetime of watching this team.
Great call - this is a very underrated moment. And the best part is that the flashy Rams had already had their offensive players announced individually, which made the "and now...choosing to be announced as a team...the New England Patriots!" moment even more amazing - and, of course, no team has ever gone back to the individual-player announcements that used to be the norm prior.

Edit: Spurred by this thread I just watched the YouTube video of the Pats' game-winning drive in SB 36. I knew Madden had made the stupid comment that the Pats should just play for OT but I forgot just how VEHEMENT he was about it. A Hall of Fame bad take.
 

tims4wins

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Great call - this is a very underrated moment. And the best part is that the flashy Rams had already had their offensive players announced individually, which made the "and now...choosing to be announced as a team...the New England Patriots!" moment even more amazing - and, of course, no team has ever gone back to the individual-player announcements that used to be the norm prior.
I remember discussing with some friends before the game which unit was going to be announced - it was usually just the offense or just the defense - so I predicted / voted that they should introduce either the punt return team or the field goal block team, mainly just to show they were a complete team (and to give credit to one of the units that was crucial in beating the Steelers). The Pats just took it to another level.
 

8slim

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Great call - this is a very underrated moment. And the best part is that the flashy Rams had already had their offensive players announced individually, which made the "and now...choosing to be announced as a team...the New England Patriots!" moment even more amazing - and, of course, no team has ever gone back to the individual-player announcements that used to be the norm prior.

Edit: Spurred by this thread I just watched the YouTube video of the Pats' game-winning drive in SB 36. I knew Madden had made the stupid comment that the Pats should just play for OT but I forgot just how VEHEMENT he was about it. A Hall of Fame bad take.
I remember discussing with some friends before the game which unit was going to be announced - it was usually just the offense or just the defense - so I predicted / voted that they should introduce either the punt return team or the field goal block team, mainly just to show they were a complete team (and to give credit to one of the units that was crucial in beating the Steelers). The Pats just took it to another level.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFfGFChWKqY


As this happened I said out loud, to myself, "We're gonna win this fucking game".
 

Al Zarilla

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Great call - this is a very underrated moment. And the best part is that the flashy Rams had already had their offensive players announced individually, which made the "and now...choosing to be announced as a team...the New England Patriots!" moment even more amazing - and, of course, no team has ever gone back to the individual-player announcements that used to be the norm prior.

Edit: Spurred by this thread I just watched the YouTube video of the Pats' game-winning drive in SB 36. I knew Madden had made the stupid comment that the Pats should just play for OT but I forgot just how VEHEMENT he was about it. A Hall of Fame bad take.
Later on, Madden kind of made up for it though by saying “What Tom Brady just did gave me goosebumps.” Well, made up for it for me. Also, Madden saying that, as exalted as he was, gave me an inkling that maybe we’ve really got something in this Tom Brady. Have to remember the Pats we’re coming off a 5-11 season in 2000, so they were not on national TV much in ‘01. Point is, living in California, I hadn’t seen much of Brady, or the team. Of course, I watched every play of the Oakland and Pittsburgh games, but the snow in the first of those and Tom’s injury in the second limited him a lot. Back to the game, a bit later, Pat Summerall said matter of factly “right down the pipe.” and I jumped out of my chair and yelled “he made it!!!”, which I guess meant I didn’t expect Adam to do, probably because of all Boston teams failing to close the deal since Larry’s Celtics.

As astounding as 49 and 51 were, 36 is still “it” for me. So, 2001 season. The final drive and Adam’s kick were like one big moment, or blur. Favorite other player, nothing new, Gronk.
 
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8slim

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Have to remember the Pats we’re coming off a 5-11 season in 2000, so they were not on national TV much in ‘01. Point is, living in California, I hadn’t seen much of Brady, or the team.
They weren't even on a ton locally in Connecticut! That was only a couple years after Kraft bailed out of the Hartford stadium deal, and the Pats were still very much personna non grata in the state. So the CT CBS station often showed the Jets instead of the Pats for their many Sunday 1pm games.

Relatedly, it was the national Sunday night game against the Rams that made me believe that season. Pats lost, but they played the Rams quite evenly. Showed me that they were for real, and the stink of the 5-11 season that preceded it was gone.