The 2017 NFL season is coming in hot and once again the New England Patriots are favorites to win the Super Bowl or more accurately, repeat as Super Bowl champions. This will be the 17th year of the Brady/Belichick era, an era that has resulted in five Super Bowl wins in seven appearances. They’ve won the AFC East every year except for 2002 and 2008 when Tom Brady missed the season with a torn ACL. Those two years were also the only years where they failed to make the playoffs.
This season is also the tenth anniversary of the 2007 Patriots, who went 18-1, their only loss coming in the Super Bowl. The ’07 team was a full-fledged juggernaut, especially on offense. Brady had 50 touchdown passes, newly acquired Randy Moss had 23 touchdown catches and the Patriots scored a whopping 589 points. They started to show signs of wearing down and injuries started to mount as the season went on, but their first 11 games was a parade of demoralizing victories over other teams.
Unfortunately the 2007 season didn’t end the way Pats’ fans hoped and it’ll forever be a blemish on what was otherwise literally a perfect season. Another team might have followed the next few seasons with a slow death march towards mediocrity, but the Brady/Belichick Patriots are not a normal team and despite a few uneven seasons here and there and one or two uninspired squads, the following years have continued to be successful, culminating in improbable and dramatic Super Bowl victories over the Seahawks and the Falcons.
From the outside, it’s probably considered to be pretty easy and fun to be a Patriots’ fan. I get that. The Patriots win a lot, they win big a lot, they routinely end seasons deep in the playoffs. If you’re a Jaguars’ fan or a Vikings’ fan or even closer to home, a Bills or a Jets’ fan, Patriots’ fans should have nothing, absolutely nothing to complain about. There are probably fewer things more insufferable than listening to a Pats’ fan complain.
But still, it’s not like it’s been that easy being a Patriots’ fan over these past 16 years. We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs, just like anyone else. Well, maybe not like everyone else. Whatever, it’s true. The Pats have had some rough, hard to handle losses – you know, like two heart-breaking losses in the Super Bowl to the Giants, one that included a dude using his helmet to make a catch and just the thought of that makes me go to a very dark place for a few minutes.
There have been also a handful of stomach-turning losses to the Ravens and Peyton Manning’s Colts and Broncos teams, plus there was that brief period when the Jets were actually good and the Jets/Pats rivalry was a real thing. The Pats’ playoff loss to the Jets in 2010 was especially upsetting, so hey Jets’ fans, at least you have that to hang your hat on.
Even the Patriots Super Bowl wins have been a rollercoaster of emotions, holding off the Seahawks in the final minute in Super Bowl 49 and then beating the Falcons by engineering one of the biggest comebacks ever in Super Bowl 51. The Patriots don’t make things easy for their fans.
And you can’t sleep on the “gates” that have haunted the Patriots and hung heavy over their heads and success. There was Spygate in 2007, when the team was busted for videotaping opponents that immediately opened the flood gates for every significant win they had logged under Belichick to be questioned. When the team lost the two Super Bowls to the Giants, the losses were accompanied by snide comments about their inability to win without cheating, as if somehow they could have found a way to cheat and avoid the merciless pass rush unleashed by the Giants in that first Super Bowl. And then there was Deflategate, which dogged the team, Brady and fans for over two years. The scandals made an already defensive fan base that much more so and as a result, probably that much more insufferable.
They say misery loves company, but when it comes to the misery Pats’ fans have endured, the company has been rather hard to come by, especially if you live outside of New England.
Over the years I’ve written my fair share of Patriots posts, chronicling the highs, the lows and the in-betweens.
Super Bowl 51 Recap & Reaction
The Patriots came back from being down 28-3 to beat the Falcons 34-28 in overtime. Of the 5 Super Bowl victories in the Brady/Belichick era, it’s locked in at number 2 after 2001.
Super Bowl 51 Preview
51 thoughts, including evolving predictions, about Super 51.
2016 AFC Championship loss to Denver
The Patriots lost to Peyton Manning and the Broncos as Von Miller dominated the Pats’ offensive line.
Super Bowl 49 reaction
The Patriots looked like there about to lose to the Seahawks until Malcom Butler made one of the best interceptions ever, sealing the win for New England.
Super Bowl 49 preview
Predictions and previews for Super Bowl 49, including a Seattle vs. Boston breakdown.
With the Deflategate scandal in full swing, I wrote about 20 Patriots-related things I was trying to think about being The Scandal Which Shall Not Be Named.
Tom Brady’s “slump” in 2014
In the first half of the 2014 season, things weren’t going great for Tom Brady. Because I’m a good friend, I tried to cheer him up. I’m not going to say it worked, but shortly after posting it, the Patriots turned things around and eventually won the Super Bowl. So you know, you’re welcome.
2014 AFC championship loss to Denver
The Pats lost 26-16 to Denver in a game that never felt that close. On the plus side, Denver went on to get demolished by Seattle in the Super Bowl.
2013 AFC Championship loss to Baltimore
It was a rare playoff lose at home for New England and cemented a new rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens.
2012 AFC Championship win over Baltimore
Whew. The Pats held on in this one and won thanks to a missed field goal by Baltimore’s kicker.
2012 Mid-Season check-up
The Pats were frustrating in 2012 so to make things easier, I tried to come up with 10 things more frustrating than the Patriots.