Each week of the 2020 season, The Hall will highlight one moment in Patriots history that previously occurred in that corresponding football week. Some moments you may remember, some you may not, but each week of Patriots football presents the opportunity for a historic moment.
The Patriots entered Week 15 of the 1978 season with a chance to clinch their first ever AFC Eastern Division title as they hosted the 4-10 Buffalo Bills on a cold, windy, snowy day at Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough.
Snow started just before the coin toss, which the Patriots won. On the game’s opening possession, the Pats, behind the running of Andy Johnson, Horace Ivory and Sam Cunningham, consumed almost 8 minutes only to come up empty. The Patriots faced a fourth-and-two from the Bills 14-yard line, but Buffalo linebacker Shane Nelson stopped Johnson short of the mark.
The Bills opened the scoring early in the second quarter when Roland Hooks took a third-and-10 handoff 28 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. New England answered right back, converting two fourth downs as part of a 14-play, 59-yard touchdown drive that ended with a Cunningham 4-yard scoring run. Buffalo reclaimed the lead on a 26-yard field goal as the half expired.
Just more than midway through the third quarter, Buffalo extended its lead to 17-7 when running back Terry Miller broke through the left side and raced 32 yards for the score. Once again, the Patriots responded with quarterback Steve Grogan scoring on a 4-yard run to cap off a seven-play drive that made it 17-14.
Pats kicker David Posey missed a 42-yard, game-tying attempt early in the fourth quarter, but three plays later Tony McGee sacked Bills quarterback Joe Ferguson, forcing a fumble, which Ray Hamilton recovered at the Bills 20-yard line. The Patriots needed only one play to take the lead and did so when Horace Ivory scampered 20 yards for a touchdown and a 21-17 advantage.
This time, the Bills answered immediately. Ferguson capped off an 8-play, 68-yard drive with a 21-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Frank Lewis for a 24-21 advantage. The Patriots, however, were poised to reclaim the lead when Cunningham fumbled on the Buffalo 2-yard line with 2:32 left in the game.
Buffalo, on its own 2, ran three times, netting 9 yards. On fourth down, punter Rusty Jackson retreated through his own end zone for a safety rather than punt the ball away. Patriots returner Raymond Clayborn took the ensuing free kick at his 36-yard line and raced 17 yards to the Buffalo 47 with 1:43 to go. Grogan went to work. He completed three passes to his running backs for 21 yards, while he and Cunningham added 19 more on the ground.
On third-and-goal from the Buffalo 7-yard line, Posey came on to avenge his earlier miss and booted a chip-shot 21-yard field goal for a 26-24 win that clinched the division (finished 11-5) and sent fans swarming onto the field in celebration.
Bill Belichick’s first season at the Patriots helm in 2000 was about evaluating the roster in order to remake it going forward, which he did during the offseason while building a team that won the Super Bowl a year later. But there was an occasional bright spot during a 5-11 season in 2000, and one of those came in Week 14 when the 3-9 Patriots hosted the 5-7 Kansas City Chiefs at Foxboro Stadium on Dec. 4. New England took the opening kickoff and drove to an Adam Vinatieri 48-yard field goal. After Kansas City answered with a field goal of its own, Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe guided a methodical 15-play, 67-yard drive that consumed 6:58 of the first quarter and ended with a 1-yard Kevin Faulk touchdown run. Bledsoe connected on 6-of-8 passes for 62 yards to four different receivers on the drive. Kansas City tied the game midway through the second quarter on an Elvis Grbac 81-yard bomb to Derrick Alexander. Bledsoe’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Troy Brown with 2:04 left in the half reclaimed the lead, and after the defense responded, New England got the back with 1:04 left at their own 24. Three straight Bledsoe completions netted 36 yards and an encroachment penalty added 5 more, setting up Vinatieri, who booted a 53-yard field goal to give the Patriots a 20-10 halftime advantage.
New England recovered a Chiefs fumble early in the third quarter, and Bledsoe took over, completing all seven of his passes for 61 yards on an 8-play, 63-yard touchdown drive for a 27-10 lead. A Grbac 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tony Gonzalez made it 27-17 before Vinatieri’s third field goal extended the lead to 30-17 with 7:23 remaining in the game. The Chiefs weren’t done yet, however. After a Faulk fumble, Grbac completed a 25-yard pass to Gonzalez and a 19-yard touchdown strike to Kevin Lockett to get within one score at 30-24 with 3:58 left. Kansas City got the ball back with 1:02 remaining and drove to the New England 12-yard line, but when Grbac completed a pass to the 7-yard line with no timeouts remaining, the clock expired on the Chiefs. New England had held on to the 30-24 win to improve to 4-9.
The 1976 Patriots were as talented as many of the modern era’s championship teams. While the season would eventually end in a controversial playoff loss to the Oakland Raiders, it did mark the first time the Patriots qualified for postseason play since 1963 and the first time since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970. They clinched that playoff berth with a Week 13 win over the 4-8 New Orleans Saints. The 9-3 Patriots struggled early however – at least offensively. After a scoreless first quarter, the Patriots finally got on the board just more than halfway through the second quarter when quarterback Steve Grogan connected with tight end Al Chandler for a 12-yard touchdown. A missed extra point left the Patriots leading, 6-0. Late in the half, New England drove 63 yards in six plays and finished the march with a 12-yard Grogan touchdown run – one of his 12 rushing touchdowns that season, which set an NFL record for a quarterback. The Saints managed a 50-yard field goal as time expired to make it 13-3 at halftime.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Saints converted another field goal to get within a score, but the Pats answered right back, driving 78 yards in 11 plays and finishing it off with a Grogan 10-yard touchdown run. The Patriots then iced it on their next possession when running back Ike Forte scored on a 6-yard pass from Grogan for the 27-6 win that gave the Patriots a 10-3 record and clinched a playoff spot.
The 7-3 Detroit Lions were in town looking to spoil the Patriots six-game winning streak in Week 12 of the 2014 season. The Lions lit the scoreboard first on a Matt Prater 48-yard field goal on the game’s opening drive. New England answered late in the first quarter using a no huddle to create a spark. The Pats marched 64 yards on nine plays and finished the drive with a 4-yard Tom Brady-to-Tim Wright touchdown pass. The Lions answered with another field goal early in the second quarter, but the Patriots responded immediately. Danny Amendola took the ensuing kickoff 81 yards to set up a 3-yard LeGarrette Blount touchdown to make it 14-6. The Patriots then closed out the half with 10 points in the final 2:47. It started with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Wright. Detroit then missed a 53-yard field goal with 35 seconds left in the half, and New England made it pay. With all three timeouts at their disposal, the Patriots drove from their 43-yard line to the Lions 17 in just 31 seconds and added a Stephen Gostkowski field goal as time expired to go to the half up 24-6. Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski on that final drive on two consecutive chunk plays that covered 47 yards to set up the field goal.
The only scoring in the third quarter came with a little more than five minutes remaining when Gostkowski booted a 43-yard field goal. The Lions matched with a field goal of their own early in the fourth to make the score 27-9. The Patriots capped off the scoring Blount touchdown run to seal the game and give the Patriots a 34-9 victory and a 9-2 record on the way to a 12-4 season.
A Week 11 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings in 1994 included an inauspicious start for New England. The Vikings jumped on top, 20-0, before the Patriots kicked a field goal just before halftime. That’s when head coach Bill Parcells turned things over to his second-year quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, who put the team on his shoulders in an epic comeback that was dubbed Bledsoe’s comoing out party. The Patriots drove 68 yards on six plays with Bledsoe hitting Ray Crittenden for a touchdown in the opening minutes of the second half. After a scoting lull, and with just five minutes remaining in the game, Bledsoe went to work again. He completed 9-of-11 passes on an 87-yard march and capped it with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Leroy Thompson which cut the Vikings lead to three. The Patriots defense responded with a huge three-and-out stop, which gave New England the ball back with 1:51 remaining and the chance to tie or win the game. Bledsoe continued his aerial assault, connecting with Vincent Brisby on three consecutive passes, including a 25-yard strike on 4th-and-10. The Patriots settled for a game-tying Matt Bahr 23-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. The Patriots won the overtime coin toss and never looked back. Bledsoe continued dissecting the Vikings secondary. Bledsoe set NFL records for completions (45) and attempts (70) in the win while throwing for 426 yards. Despite dropping back to pass 70 times, Bledsoe was never sacked.
The Patriots made their annual trip to South Beach in Week 10 of the 2005 season, which featured a head-to-head matchup of long-time friends Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. Saban was in his first year as the Miami Dolphins head coach and looked to take down his former boss back with the Cleveland Browns and move into a tie with New England for first place in the division. Much of the first half was a battle for field position. The Dolphins were the first on the scoreboard when Gus Frerotte connected with Chris Chambers for a 3-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter. Miami was threatening to score again late in the half when Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin stripped the football from Miami tight end Randy McMichael. Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs recovered the fumble and gave the Patriots a some life. Tom Brady, not surprisingly, executed a quick two-minute drive and set up Adam Vinatieri for a 35-yard field goal to make it 7-3 at halftime.
The Patriots score on 32-yard Vinatieri field goal midway through the third quarter and then mounted a terrific 10-play, five-minute long drive which culminated in a Brady to Ben Watson 16-yard touchdown. After a failed two-point conversion, the Patriots led, 12-7. A Hobbs interception set up a third Vinatieri field goal for a 15-7 advantage. But the Dolphins weren’t done. After an Olindo Mare field goal, Yeremiah Bell intercepted Brady. Frerotte than connected with Chambers for their second touchdown hookup of the day to give Miami 16-15 lead with three minutes to go. Brady responded instantly, hitting Tim Dwight for 59 yards to set up a toe-tapping 17-yard Ben Watson touchdown to retake the lead. The Patriots added 2 points on a Heath Evans run for a 23-16 lead. Frerotte connected with Wes Welker for 47 yards and Miami moved into a first-and-goal situation at the Patriots 5-yard line, but New England’s defense rose to the occasion and held Miami out of the end zone for a thrilling road win.
The first season of Patriots football kicked off on September 9, 1960 in a 13-10 home loss to Denver. The franchise bounced back and secured a Week 2 victory at New York, defeating the Titans, 28-24. The team then went 1-4 over their next 5 games, all without securing a win in front of their home crowd. The Boston Patriots sat at 2-5 entering Week Nine (with a Week Four bye) when they met the Oakland Raiders on November 4, 1960 at Boston University Field in front of 8,446 Patriots fans.
The Patriots controlled the game in the first quarter, but the first drive stalled out on a missed 42-yard Gino Cappelletti field goal attempt. The Patriots responded. After few three-and-outs for both teams, Boston’s Hal Smith recovered a Raiders fumble at Oakland’s 37. The Patriots capitalized on the great field position when Butch Songin threw a pass in the deep corner of the end zone for a Thomas Stephens touchdown. Boston’s defense continued to step up. Three plays later, Fred Bruney intercepted a Tom Flores pass and returned it 17 yards to the Raiders 28-yard line. Songin and company converted yet again, just 2 plays later when he connected with Dick Christy to give the Patriots a 14-0 lead after one period of play. The Raiders responded with a touchdown of their own early in the second quarter but two Cappelletti field goals gave the Patriots a 13-point half time lead.
The Raiders opened the second-half scoring with a Flores touchdown run but Boston responded with Christy touchdown at the end of the third quarter. The Patriots added to their lead midway through the fourth when Songin threw a 38-yard strike to Jim Colclough to up the lead to 34-14. Oakland continued to battle though, and cut the lead back to 13 with 8:45 remaining. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Boston’s Billy Wells fumbled, setting up another Raiders touchdown. Oakland, trailing by six, seemed on the verge of a dramatic comeback, but Chuck Shonta’s interception sealed the deal.
Boston held on to the 34-28 win over the Raiders at Boston University Field on November 4, 1960 which marked the first home win in franchise history.
The 2-4 St. Louis Rams made their first visit to Foxborough since the 2001 season and first-ever visit to Gillette Stadium in 2008 to face the Matt Cassel-led 4-2 Patriots.The Rams began the game with a lengthy drive that resulted in field goal, and the Patriots responded with a dominating 73-yard,13-play drive that consumed more than seven minutes. BenJarvus Green-Ellis capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown plunge that gave the Patriots a 7-3 lead after one quarter. The Rams responded quickly with a touchdown of their own in the opening minutes of the second quarter until the Patriots put together back-to-back drives that both resulted in Stephen Gostkowski field goals which provided New England with a three-point lead at the half.
A Rams field goal midway through the third and another early in the fourth staked St. Louis to a three-point lead with just more than 12 minutes remaining in the game. The Patriots managed to tie the game up on a 41-yard Gostkowski field goal which set up an exciting finish. After the Patriots defense forced the Rams to punt, Cassel and Randy Moss took control of the game. The duo connected on three passes for 34 yards, which set up a beautiful back shoulder fade touchdown pass to Kevin Faulk for the go-ahead score. The Rams responded with an excellent drive that took them into New England territory but Patriots cornerback Deltha O’Neal intercepted Marc Bulger to secure the Patriots victory.
This comeback win was Matt Cassel’s first career fourth quarter comeback as the Patriots defeated the Rams, 23-16. The Patriots were not flagged for any accepted penalties during the entire game, which marked the first penalty-free game in franchise history.
Dawning their blue color rush attire, the Patriots welcomed the Atlanta Falcons into Foxboro for a Sunday Night rematch of Super Bowl LI. This game however, was a little different than that Super Bowl thriller from last season. The excitement ramped up late in the 1st quarter with the Falcons threatening in Patriots territory until the drive stalls out and the Patriots force a field goal attempt. Patriots special teams came up big, when Cassius Marsh split between the line and blocked the field goal attempt to keep the game scoreless and give the Patriots the ball at their own 26. That was the jolt the Patriots needed. The offense took over to score 17 points in the 2nd quarter. Tom Brady connected with Brandon Cooks on an 11-yard touchdown completion, Stephen Gostkowski booted a 29-yard field goal, and James White caught a 2-yard touchdown pass over the middle with just 26 seconds remaining in the first half to give the Patriots a 17-0 lead.
The halftime ceremony at Gillette Stadium was a star studded affair on that mid-October night. David Baker, the President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, took to the stage to present the new, re-designed Hall of Fame rings. The 65,000+ Patriots fans in attendance saw the returns of Patriots legends John Hannah, Mike Haynes and Andre Tippett. Three of the greatest Patriots of all-time, drenched in their gold jackets, standing next to their bronze busts, receiving their new Pro Football Hall of Fame rings. A Hall of Fame halftime show for the ages.
Several waves of thick clouds rolled into Foxboro and made the field nearly impossible to see from the television broadcast and the stands in the second half. Luckily the Patriots had no issues on the field. The defense held strong, forcing the Falcons to miss another field goal in their first possession of the half. Gostkowski responded by making his 21 yarder to increase the lead to 20. The Falcons finally responded with a touchdown drive of their own late in the 4th quarter, when Matt Ryan and Julio Jones connected in the corner of the end zone. The Patriots recovered the onside kick and proceeded to drain the remaining 4 minutes and 7 seconds to secure the win.
The Patriots bend don’t break defense and the unique foggy weather dominated this game. The weather earned the area in which Gillette Stadium resides a new name, Fogsboro.
— The Hall presented by Raytheon Technologies (@TheHall) October 16, 2020
After enjoying a Week 5 bye, the Patriots welcomed the rival Baltimore Ravens to Gillette Stadium in Week 6 of the 2010 season. The Patriots were seeking revenge for their early playoff exit the year before at the hands of the Ravens. The Patriots offense had a new look after two bye week transactions resulted in the departure of Randy Moss and the return of a familiar face, Deion Branch. These two AFC powerhouses went toe-to-toe in the first half. A Ravens field goal opened the scoring, but the Pats responded with a BenJarvus Green-Ellis touchdown in the final seconds of the opening quarter. Baltimore responded early in the second with a touchdown of its own.
The Ravens then opened the second half scoring with a 25-yard strike from Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin to open a 17-7 lead. Stephen Gostkowski added a Patriots field goal in the third to make it a one possession game. The Ravens responded with a 13-play, 6:47 drive but the Patriots made a red zone stand and held Baltimore to a field goal. The Patriots stormed back with an eight-play drive that ended in a Tom Brady-to-Deion Branch 5-yard touchdown pass to make it 20-17. Vince Wilfork and the Patriots defensive line stuffed Joe Flacco on a third down-and-one quarterback sneak, forcing a Ravens punt. The Brady-to-Branch connection proved pivotal down the stretch. They connected four times for 37 yards and helped set Gostkowski up for the game-tying field goal.
Baltimore won the overtime toss and started with the ball, but both teams failed to score and went back and forth for 13 minutes of overtime. It was a stalemate until Brady and Branch connected again. Brady found Branch for 23-yard and 10-yard completions to eventually set up a 35-yard game-winning field goal. In his return to Foxboro, Branch finished with nine receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown as he lead the Patriots to a 23-20 comeback win in overtime.
— The Hall presented by Raytheon Technologies (@TheHall) October 8, 2020
After coming off a 20-17 loss in Washington, the 2-2 Patriots returned home to battle the Tennessee Titans in Week 5 of the 2003 NFL season. The Patriots found themselves trailing early after a pair of field goals gave the Titans the lead going into the final minutes of the first quarter. The Patriots finally got on the board with 1:00 left in the quarter when Tom Brady connected with Patriots Hall of Famer Troy Brown on a 58-yard touchdown pass for the only Patriots score in the first half.
After giving up a late-second quarter touchdown to Steve McNair and Co., the Patriots began the second half with the ball and trailed 13-7. The entertaining second half saw the teams trading scores. Antowain Smith and Mike Cloud both barreled in for 1-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter for New England. Gary Anderson and Adam Vinatieri then traded field goals early in the fourth quarter. With just over four minutes left in the game, the Titans scored on a McNair run and successfully converted the 2-point conversion to take a 27-24 lead. The Patriots responded quickly, however, as Bethel Johnson took the ensuing kickoff 71 yards to set up a 15-yard Cloud touchdown run to retake the lead. The Patriots defense held strong as Ty Law jumped a McNair pass on the sideline and returned the interception 65 yards for a touchdown as he limped into the end zone while playing through an ankle injury. The Titans last-ditch effort came in the form of a 41-yard field goal and an attempt at an onside kick. The comeback attempt fell short when Christian Fauria recovered the onside kick attempt to secure the Patriots 38-30 victory.
The win marked the start of the Patriots NFL-record 21-game winning streak. The 2003 Patriots would go on to win Super Bowl XXXVIII that season and they would not lose again until October 31, 2004.
— The Hall presented by Raytheon Technologies (@TheHall) October 1, 2020
Coming of a disappointing AFL Championship Game loss in 1963, the Boston Patriots rebounded to start the 1964 campaign on an impressive three-game winning streak. The Patriots found themselves on the road, in Denver, to play the Broncos in Week 4 of the young season. The Patriots open the game on offense and executed a 13 play drive that consumed 9:13, but that stalled out on the Denver 11-yard line. They called on Patriots Hall of Fame kicker Gino Cappelletti to boot a field goal for a 3-0 lead. Cappelletti staked Boston to a 6-0 lead with a 30-yard field goal on its next possession. A chip-shot field goal by The Duke made it 9-0 and a 47-yard Cappelletti field goal increased the Patriots lead to 12-0 while Cappelletti also scored his 500th AFL point. The Patriots finally found pay-dirt before the first half ended when Ron Burton’s touchdown and a Cappelletti extra point made it 19-0 at the break.
The second half saw more of the Cappelletti Show. He converted two more field goals to finish the game with a Patriots single-game record six total field goals made. Cappelletti’s record performance led the Patriots to a 39-10 win over the Denver Broncos.
— The Hall presented by Raytheon Technologies (@TheHall) September 24, 2020
The Patriots kickstarted their journey to Super Bowl XXXVI with their first win of the season over the Indianapolis Colts. In his first career start, Tom Brady, along with a Herculean defensive effort, led the Patriots to a 44-13 win over the rival Colts. This was the first of an eventual 17 Brady vs. Manning head-to-head matchups. The Patriots, however, didn’t need any Brady magic to secure his first career win. Running backs Antowain Smith and Kevin Faulk rushed for three touchdowns combined, Adam Vinatieri booted a pair of field goals while cornerbacks Ty Law and Otis Smith each returned interceptions for touchdowns. The Patriots were 1-2 and few imagined they would finish the season as Super Bowl champions.
— The Hall presented by Raytheon Technologies (@TheHall) September 17, 2020
The Patriots secured a Week 2 divisional win against the New York Jets on a rainy Thursday night matchup at Gillette Stadium. After a Tom Brady-to-Aaron Dobson touchdown and two Stephen Gostkowski field goals, the Patriots took a 13-3 lead into the half. During that intermission, The Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon Technologies honored Tedy Bruschi for his recent induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame. The fans kept celebrating in the second half as the Patriots defense took control with three fourth quarter interceptions, including 2 by cornerback Aqib Talib to help the Patriots hold on to a 13-10 win.
— The Hall presented by Raytheon Technologies (@TheHall) September 10, 2020
In a thrilling Monday night home opener in 2009, Tom Brady guided a dramatic comeback in a 25-24 divisional win over the Buffalo Bills. A Fred Taylor second quarter touchdown, and a Stephen Gostkowski field goal as time expired in the first half cut a surprising Patriots deficit to four at 14-10. Fast forward to the fourth quarter with just more than five minutes left in the game and the Patriots trailing, 24-13. Brady led an 11-play march that ended in an 18-yard touchdown strike to tight end Ben Watson to make it 24-19 with 2:06 to go. On the ensuing kickoff, Leodis McKelvin made the ill-advised to decision to take it out of the end zone only to fumble at the Buffalo 31 with Gostkowski recovering for New England. Brady and Watson then connected yet again for a 16-yard touchdown with just 50 seconds remaining for the go-ahead score, giving the Patriots a 25-24 Week 1 victory.