In today’s Titletown Ten post, we’ll discuss the top Patriots playoff wins since they started their championship run in 2001. It’s amazing that there are actually 29 playoff games to choose from over a 15 year span! There are six teams in the league that have not even won a playoff game during this stretch. There are plenty of games to choose from, but we’ve narrowed it down to ten and ranked them in order. Please keep in mind that this is a list of best games. It’s not a list of the most dominant performances. You will not find last year’s AFC Championship Game on this list. It’s a list of the games that will go down as the best and most competitive playoff games that the Patriots have won since 2001.
Here are First Score Boston’s Top 10 playoff wins in the Bill Belchick – Tom Brady era.
#10. Patriots vs. Titans – 1/10/2004. This was an ice cold Saturday Night Game at Gillette Stadium. It was 4 degrees with a 10 below wind chill at kickoff. This was not a typical game that Tom Brady took over and won. He played poorly on this night completing just 51% of his passes. Antowain Smith rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown. The Steve McNair led Titans and the Pats were tied at 14 going into the 4th quarter. The Pats won it on a 46 yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. You’ll see his name a lot in this post for a guy who now gets booed at Gillette Stadium. Amazing…
#9. Patriots vs. Chargers – 1/14/2007. The Chargers were 14-2 this year and faced the Patriots in the Divisional Round after the Pats defeated the Jets in a Wild Card Game. San Diego controlled the game through three and a half quarters. LaDanian Tomlinson had 123 yards rushing and two touchdowns for the Chargers. After a rough start, Brady took over late in the game with a touchdown pass to Reche Caldwell to tie the game at 21. Steven Gostkowski then nailed a 31 yard field goal to win the game and send the Pats to the AFC Title Game. Unfortunately, this team was not as talented as others and the run ended there.
#8. Patriots vs. Steelers – 1/27/2002. This game is often forgotten in Patriots recent history. This game is often know as the “Drew Bledsoe Game”. The Patriots went in as huge underdogs in the AFC Title Game as the national media gave them no chance even though Kordell Stewart was leading the Steelers offense. Brady got hurt in the second quarter. Bledsoe came in and threw a touchdown pass to David Patten that put the Pats up 14-3 and they never looked back from there. The Steelers made a late comeback, but it was too late. 24-17 Pats was the final score in Drew Bledsoe’s last on field performance as a Patriot, sending the team to the Super Bowl. Many Patriots fans forget that Drew Bledsoe was 2-0 in AFC Championship Games leading the Pats to two Super Bowl appearances.
#7. Patriots vs. Eagles – 2/6/2005. The Patriots and Eagles faced off in Super Bowl XXXIX in a game that the Patriots mostly controlled on their way to a second straight Super Bowl and back-to-back championships. Tom Brady and Deion Branch led an efficient Patriots offensive attack. Branch had 11 catches for 133 yards. The Pats picked off Donovan McNabb three times. The Final Score of this game was closer than the game actually was with a 24-21 final. The Patriots were at their absolute peak during their championship run winning their third title in four years.
#6. Patriots vs. Ravens – 1/22/2012. This was a classic AFC Championship Game. The defenses ruled out in this one as both teams struggled offensively. Brady had no TD’s and two interceptions. Does everyone remember the bomb to Matthew Slater?! The Ravens had a chance to win the game late, but Lee Evans dropped a TD pass to put the Ravens on top. Billy Cundiff then missed a very easy field goal to tie the game. The Pats prevailed 23-20 and went on to face the Giants in a Super Bowl rematch.
#5. Patriots vs. Ravens – 1/10/2015. We’re just about at the one year anniversary of the latest playoff matchup between the Pats and Ravens. The Patriots trailed by 14 points twice in this game and came back for a 35-31 victory. The key play was a touchdown pass by Julien Edelman to Danny Amendola. This was one of Brady’s best playoff performances. He threw for 367 yards and 3 TD’s. The Patriots and Ravens once again proved to be evenly matched and the Pats prevailed.
#4. Patriots vs. Raiders – 1/19/2002. The last game ever played at Foxboro Stadium was an all-time classic. This was a Saturday Night Divisional Game with all of the elements. Snow, cold, wind…welcome to New England, Raiders! Despite the elements, the Raiders controlled the game for 3 and a half quarters. “The Tuck Rule” changed the game as Brady’s fumble was reversed and the Patriots scored late to put them within three. Adam Vinatieri then hit a 45 yard field goal in the wind and snow to tie the game. He then won it with a field goal in overtime. Vinatieri’s kick went down as one of the best in NFL history and started a historic playoff run.
#3. Patriots vs. Panthers – 2/1/2004. The Patriots second Super Bowl win was a battle of quarterbacks. Tom Brady and Jake Delhomme both threw for over 300 yards and 3 TD’s. The Panthers tied the game with a minute to go on a Delhomme TD pass to Ricky Proehl. Brady then led the Pats down the field for a Super Bowl game winning field goal by…who else?
#2. Patriots vs. Seahawks – 2/1/2015. This game featured two stud teams who were loaded on both sides of the ball. Going into the game, it was expected to be a toss up. That’s exactly what it ended up being. Seattle held a lead in the 3rd quarter and then Brady took over. This will likely go down as Brady’s gutsiest playoff comeback performance of his career. He was not going to be denied…until the Seahawks had the ball on the 1 yard line. Malcolm Butler…enough said! The Pats prevailed 28-24. Pete Carroll did win a Super Bowl for the Patriots after all. What a great game!
#1. Patriots vs. Rams – 2/3/2002. The Rams were the best team in the NFL going into the game and were expected to win their second Super Bowl in three years. The Patriots defense had other thoughts and completely shut down Marshall Faulk. Ty Law set the table early with a key interception for a touchdown. The Rams came back to tie it late and it looked like we were heading for another heartbreaking Boston sports loss. Adam Vinatieri won the game on a 48 yard field goal with no time left. That’s four game winning kicks on this list alone! Stop booing this guy! The 20-17 victory was the first Boston sports championship in 15 years.
15 years of greatness. What an outstanding run. Time will tell if 2016 will bring more classic games to New England…
Enjoy this historic run!