“The New England Patriots are world champions!!” A quote Patriots’ fans have heard five times in the last 18 years, that never seems to get old in this region. New Englanders hope to hear it shouted from the rooftops again soon.
Since the Brady and Belichick era has begun, the Patriots have been an absolute juggernaut of an organization, and have ran the NFL for two decades.
Although, Patriots Nation has been blessed with this historic run, there has still been a share of crushing losses they have faced throughout the years. The recent loss on the “Miami Miracle” play got me thinking about what the most heartbreaking losses the Patriots have ever been the victim of.
Here are the five most heartbreaking losses in Patriots history:
5. Patriots vs. Broncos AFC Championship Game 2015-16
Tom Brady against Peyton Manning. Both in the twilights of their illustrious careers, found themselves facing off in their fifth all-time playoff game. Brady had been pressured all game, and was hit an astounding eighteen times by the end of the game. It was an absolute brutalization of Brady. It would be the last time the two legends would ever step onto a field against each other.
The Patriots were losing in the fourth quarter 20-12 when Tom Brady mounted a massive drive down the field, connecting on multiple 4th down conversions to Rob Gronkowski. Eventually, he hooked up with Gronk for a touchdown, where he just threw it up and Gronk went and got it in the back of the end zone.
They had brought the game within two points, and needed the two point conversion to push the game into overtime. Brady dropped back, and no one was open so he forced a throw Edelman’s way. He was intercepted on the goaline, which sealed the game for the Broncos.
This game was so heartbreaking, because it was the last time we would ever get to see Brady and Manning go head to head. An amazing rivalry coming to an end, with Brady on the losing end. With Brady at the advanced age of 38, many felt this could’ve been his last chance for a championship, and it brought a sad realization that the Patriots dynasty could be coming to an end. It was a crushing defeat at the time, but as we all now know the dynasty is still alive and well
4. Patriots vs. Green Bay SB XXXI (31) 1996-97
At this point in Patriot history, they were known as a perennial loser, and had never won a Super Bowl in team history. Making it to one was a massive deal. Besides this the only Super Bowl the Patriots made was against the 85’ Bears, and we all know how that one ended. In XXXI, New England was faced with one of the best quarterbacks and coaches of all-time in Brett Favre and Mike Holmgren. The Patriots were heavy underdogs, but they were a Cinderella team and had a certain magic about them.
Right off the bat the Packers took control of the game, by scoring a 54 yard touchdown on the seconds play of the game. Right there the game was over, and the entire region of New England was demolished by the feeling that the Patriots will never be a winning organization.
The Patriots were defeated 35-21, Drew Bledsoe had a horrific game of four interceptions, and Favre was very sharp on this night in New Orleans. This loss made the list due to the fact that the Patriots, had a glimmer of hope for the first time in the organizations history, and had it torn out just plays into the game. Little did New England know, their saviors were just years away.
3. Patriots vs. Colts AFC Championship Game 2006-07
The Patriots were barely removed from their three championships (2001-2004), when they played the Colts on January 21st, 2007 in Indianapolis. It was one of the first Manning versus Brady duels, and also one of the most memorable ones.
They had dominated the entire game, and had a commanding lead of 21-6 at the half. The biggest lead was eighteen, and it felt as though the game was in hand. Unfortunately for New England, Manning and company had a different idea. The Colts stormed back, and out scored the Patriots 32-13 in the second half, winning the game 38-34. It came to a close when Brady threw an uncanny pick with 20 seconds remaining.
This loss was so heartbreaking. In the Brady-Belichick era they had never blown a lead like that. Also it lost an opportunity to make it to the Super Bowl. With the Chicago Bears looming in the NFC, it made the game an almost automatic win for whoever came out of the AFC. The Colts strolled to a 29-17 win in the Super Bowl, and it is forever a “what if” scenario in New England.
2. Patriots vs. Giants SB XLVI (46) 2011-12
The rematch that Patriots Nation had been begging for since 2007, Patriots-Giants was actually coming true. Since the Super Bowl upset, New England had been chomping at the bit to get back at the G-Men for their unlikely win over the then undefeated Pats.
This game took place in Indianapolis, which just like in 2007 turned out to be a house of horrors for Brady and company. The Giants stormed out to an early 9-0 lead, started by an intentional grounding called on Brady in the endzone for a safety. At the half, New England was able to gain the slight lead of 10-9 while Madonna performed the halftime show. After an amazing throw and catch of 38 yards from Eli Manning to Mario Manningham with a few minutes left. A late Ahmad Bradshaw touchdown put the Giants up 21-17 with 1:03 left in the game.
This gave the Patriots an amazing opportunity to come down and win the game with a miraculous drive. The drive before New England could have sealed it when Wes Welker dropped a pass that hit him right in the hands. Leaving the Patriots with one option on the final drive, The Hail Mary. Brady bombed it 65 yards down the field, and it dropped inches in front of a hobbled Gronkowski, who if healthy may have actually made the catch. It was a sad and shocking defeat for New England. The worst part was that they were unable to get revenge on the loss four years prior.
1. Patriots vs. Giants XLII (42) 2007-08
The New England Patriots were in the midst of the greatest season of all-time, with a quarterback and wide receiver also breaking records that have stood for decades. Brady finished with 50 touchdowns, and Moss with 23, unheard of numbers. 18-0 coming into the game, they were the heavy favorite, and expected to blow the 13-6 Giants out of the water. As we all know that’s not how that infamous night went.
The 14 point favorited Patriots came out of the gate slow, only scoring seven points at the half, but still held a lead of 7-3 with 30 minutes to play. As a bit of foreshadowing for the game, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played at halftime. The Giants played heartbreaker that night as well, in the second half New England’s defense began to give up more and more yards. The Giants Defensive line basically won them the game, they were in Brady’s grill all night, and put on one of the most ferocious performances I had ever witnessed.
On the final drive for New York Manning got out of multiple sacks threw up a wobbling pass, and David Tyree caught the ball on his helmet. An unbelievably lucky catch, by a subpar player that will go down as the best Super Bowl catch ever. Plays later Manning hooked up with Burress on the game winning touchdown with only a few minutes remaining.
The loss meant the undefeated season was over, the Patriots could be beat, and that in the Boston versus New York rivalry, New York had gained control once again. It was New England’s first loss in the big one under Belichick, and no one saw it coming which made it the worst loss in Patriots history. The 73’ Dolphins could pop their champagne once again.
These losses still stingS Although it seems like doom and gloom, it is clear the great victories outweigh the defeats. This recent loss of “The Miami Miracle” feels like a Foreman gut punch, but New England is still alive and pushing for a bye in the AFC playoffs. There have been many crushing failures in the past, and this was a shock but it doesn’t make my list. Due to the lack of consequences compared to the rest on my list. The season isn’t over yet.
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