We're into the Top 20 now.
These are the plays of the Bill Belichick Era you best never forget. And probably can't. They're the ones that led directly to championships -- most for New England, a couple for the other guys. Or they're plays that signified a sea change in the way the New England Patriots under Belichick would be behaving from there on out.
I did my best to stack them in order of importance. You got a problem with that? Good. Let us know what's too high, too low or just plain wrong. And thanks for keeping up!
PLAY NUMBER: 12
THE YEAR: 2014 (actually January 2015)
THE GAME: Patriots 35, Ravens 31
THE PLAY: Double pass
WHY IT’S HERE: The Patriots' run to their fourth Lombardi was loaded with, “We’re doooomed . . . ” moments for their fans. Given that some of their fan base just got here (relatively) and doesn’t know what bleak really is, the pessimism wasn't a surprise. And in 2014, it was well-founded. It took ingenuity and individual players displaying balls of steel to turn the tide. And one of the plays that combined both elements was the double-pass against the Ravens.
We started this list with the first iteration of the play from back in 2001, when David Patten hit Troy Brown (number 100). This time, it was Julian Edelman hitting Danny Amendola. One of the most impressive aspects of the play: The complete calm Edelman showed in pulling in the lateral from Tom Brady, setting his feet, and throwing a room-service pass right on Amendola’s hands. The play covered 51 yards and brought the Patriots into a 28-28 tie.
We have two other plays from this epic game on the list -- the formation chicanery with Hooman (number 49), and Brady’s game-winner to Brandon LaFell (number 72) -- but this play is here because of the way it was drawn up, executed, and showed the resolve of a team that erased two 14-point deficits in the game.
PLAY NUMBER: 11
THE YEAR: 2003 (actually February 2004)
THE GAME: Patriots 32, Panthers 29
THE PLAY: Adam Vinatieri 41-yard field goal to win SB38
WHY IT’S HERE: Nobody expected Adam Vinatieri to miss the Super Bowl game-winner. That’s because nobody knew the behind-the-scenes drama that was unfolding all week long with long-snapper Brian Kinchen.
Kinchen was completely out of football for almost three seasons before the Patriots called him in Week 15 to handle long-snapping duties after Lonie Paxton and his replacement, Sean McDermott landed on IR. Kinchen was teaching middle school and working as a part-time coach with LSU’s Nick Saban at the time. He had a link to Bill Belichick and GM Scott Pioli from their Cleveland days during the 1991 to 1995 seasons when Kinchen played tight end. But self-doubt started to wrack Kinchen soon after he came aboard. Then came the long-snapping yips. Then came the coaching staff, Vinatieri and holder Ken Walter all trying to buck him up while at the same time internally tortured that this poor guy was going to come undone and not only cost them what they’d all worked for but shatter him. Then Kinchen cut his hand with a steak knife during the Super Bowl pregame meal.
The game was no picnic, either.
Read all about the drama in the 2009 book and you’ll understand how fraught with disaster that kick was. And why it’s a play that’s been taken for granted for more than a decade.