The New England Patriots have a rich history filled with a lot of success, but even they aren’t immune from heartbreak. There could have been more wins and Super Bowl victories if it wasn’t for some disappointing moments that changed the course of their franchise. Let’s look at the most heartbreaking moments in Patriots history.
5. Darryl Stingley paralyzed
One of the most heartbreaking moments in New England history didn’t actually involve a win or a loss. In a preseason game before the Patriots’ 1978 season, Darryl Stingley’s life was changed forever when he was paralyzed. Stingley went up for a catch when he was nailed by Jack Tatum who was known for vicious hits. The hit caused Stingley’s vertebrae in his neck to snap, and it changed his life forever.
This was a shocking moment for not only the Patriots but for the entire NFL. Stingley was rendered quadriplegic, and at the age of 55 he died from heart disease and complications from the paralysis.
4. Patriots on the wrong end of a call
Throughout the last couple of decades there has been chatter about the Patriots getting all the calls, but back in 1976, they were on the wrong end of a terrible call. During a playoff game against the Oakland Raiders, the Patriots were leading most of the game and looked like they were on their way to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
A very questionable “roughing the passer” call continued a Raiders drive on which they later scored a touchdown. The Raiders ended up winning by three points, and Patriots fans voiced their displeasure with the officials.
3. Coach suspended, Patriots lose to Oilers
The Patriots’ 1978 team had Super Bowl aspirations, but owner Billy Sullivan made a fateful mistake that might have cost the team a chance at another championship. Before the Patriots’ big game against the Houston Oilers, it was revealed Chuck Fairbanks had taken a job at the University of Colorado. Sullivan decided to suspended Fairbanks for the game, and without their coach, the Patriots didn’t have what it took to knock off the Oilers. The Oilers ended up knocking off the Patriots 31-14 and the dream for a Patriots championship was dead.
2. Peyton Manning > Tom Brady
The 2006 Patriots team wasn’t their greatest one, but there were still expectations that they could compete for a Super Bowl. In the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts, New England jumped out to a 21-6 halftime lead, and it looked like they were well on their way to another conference title.
The Patriots’ defense struggled in the second half, but it was wide receiver Reche Caldwell who had the worst play of the game. In the fourth quarter, Caldwell had an easy touchdown that would have probably sealed the game, but he dropped it. Caldwell had struggles with drops all season, and it cost them at the worst time.
In the Super Bowl, the Colts, led by Tom Brady’s intra-conference arch-rival quarterback Peyton Manning, dominated the Chicago Bears, which has to make the loss even more devastating.
1. Perfect no more
The Patriots were one win away from a perfect season, the only thing standing in their way was the New York Giants, a wild card team, in Super Bowl XLII. It was a competitive game that took a miracle by the Giants to come away with a win. Eli Manning, Peyton’s younger brother, threw what looked to be an impossible ball, but David Tyree pinned it against his helmet to keep the drive going.
New England ended up losing 17-14, and the perfect season was no more. As impressive as the Super Bowl wins have been throughout their history, they could have at least a few more if a couple more plays would have went their way.