The New England Patriots are certainly one of the best modern franchises in National Football League history. While plenty of it started with Tom Brady, the cool kids know this run of excellence begins even before TB12 became on of the best gunslingers to have ever played.
Given that, all the lore and titles, we’re going to do a quick run-through of the NFL’s modern-day dynasty’s greatest teams.
All dynasties have their humble beginnings. This is where New England’s mostly began, and a few legends were made in the process.
Not much was expected for this Patriots team since they were coming off a 5-11 campaign in the previous season. Further dampening New England’s chances of breaking through was the season-ending injury to starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe in Week 2 against the New York Jets.
Good thing the Pats selected a guy named Tom Brady with the 199th overall pick the year prior to back up his fallen comrade. Brady would step up big time, guiding the Patriots to an 11-3 record for the rest of the regular season and an unlikely division title.
New England had to scratch and claw their way in the playoffs, eventually punctuating their Cinderella run with an Adam Vinatieri field goal to seal the win against the heavily-favored St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
2001 will forever be seen as kicking off the golden age of the New England Patriots.
As the adage goes, “defense wins championships.”
The Patriots boasted the league’s best defense in 2003 wherein they gave up only 14.9 points to steer New England to set a then-franchise record of 14 regular-season wins that included going undefeated at Gillette Stadium.
That defensive prowess was on full display at the AFC Championship Game when the Pats picked off Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning four times, three by Pro Bowler Ty Law.
Super Bowl XXXVIII against the Carolina Panthers was as entertaining as it got, but in the end, the Patriots held on for just enough to set up yet another game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri.
New England replicated its success from the previous season, posting a 14-2 record and the number one seed heading in the playoffs. Tickle no one shocked or anyone fancy at this point in the team’s dominance. Nevertheless, the Patriots were still only getting started.
For the second straight year, the Pats defense suffocated Peyton Manning in the Divisional Round, holding his Colts to only three points.
The Patriots would then go on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles at Super Bowl XXXIX to win back-to-back championships. The victory served as the cherry on top for the New England region as their baseball counterparts, the Boston Red Sox, were also busy winning a World Championship of their own just three months earlier.
By this time, the Patriots have clearly cemented themselves as the class of the NFL. An 11-5 campaign assured them of their 16th straight season of winning at least 10 games and their 10th consecutive AFC East title.
After dispatching the Los Angeles Chargers in the Divisional Round, New England took care of business in their eighth straight AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs at the always loud Arrowhead Stadium in overtime.
The Patriots, playing in their 11th Super Bowl, were matched up against what is now known as the Los Angeles Rams powered by third-year sensation Jared Goff.
New England showed once again that they can win in various ways by holding the high-powered Rams offense to just three points to claim their record-tying sixth Super Bowl victory.
New England had to start the first four games of their 2016 season without Tom Brady due to his alleged involvement in “Deflategate.” Despite the early setback, backup quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett filled in nicely as the Patriots went 3-1 in that stretch.
Brady returned to the gridiron with a bang in Week 5 on the road when he torched the Cleveland Browns for 406 yards and three touchdowns while posting a 127.7 rating. New England would only lose once for the rest of the regular season en route to yet another AFC East title.
The Patriots’ dominance continued well into the playoffs by posting convincing victories in the Divisional Round (over the Houston Texans) and AFC Championship Game (versus the Pittsburgh Steelers) to march on to Super Bowl LI and face the Atlanta Falcons.
Of course, what went on at the “28-3 game” needs no further explanation as the Patriots took home the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the fifth time in franchise history. The Patriots Way and all that jazz.