Patriots

Three Patriots games among Nos. 100-31 in NFL countdown

Three Patriots games among Nos. 100-31 in NFL countdown

The NFL is celebrating its 100th anniversary by counting down its greatest plays, games and players.

Last week, the NFL Network wrapped up its 100 greatest plays countdown that included 12 involving the Patriots. This week, it was a countdown of its greatest games and Nos. 100-31 were revealed. It included three Pats games.

The list was selected by a panel of 50 voters (the same panel that votes for the NFL Awards and the All-Pro team), including our own Tom E. Curran. The Top 30 games will be revealed next week. Other upcoming countdowns: Characters (Oct. 11 & Oct. 18), Game-Changers (Oct. 25 & Nov. 1) and Teams (Nov. 8 & Nov. 15).

NO. 94: THE SNOWPLOW GAME

The Patriots usually have a home-field advantage in Foxboro - particularly when the weather turns bad. That was never more so apparent than on Dec. 12, 1982, when they beat the Miami Dolphins 3-0 on a snowy field at what was then known as Schaefer Stadium. With 4:45 left in a scoreless game, Patriots coach Ron Meyer motioned to snowplow operator Mark Henderson to clear a spot on the AstroTurf field for kicker John Smith, who booted a 33-yard field goal for the only score. Dolphins Hall of Fame coach Don Shula was furious and appealed to the NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle to overturn the result. Rozelle said Shula had a point but he hadn't overturned a result in 22 years as commissioner and wasn't about to start. Henderson, on a work-release program from a nearby prison, became a hero in New England and the John Deere tractor and plow now sits in the Patriots Hall of Fame. 

NO. 37: SUPER BOWL XXXVIII - PATRIOTS 32, PANTHERS 29

After the Patriots and Panthers went scoreless for nearly the first 27 minutes of the game, the offenses erupted from there. Carolina tied it at 29 with 1:05 left, but another game-winning drive by Tom Brady and another game-winning kick by Adam Vinatieri gave New England its second Super Bowl title in February, 2004.  

NO. 36: 2018 AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - PATRIOTS 37, CHIEFS 31 (OT)

After the Patriots held the high-scoring Chiefs offense scoreless in the first half, Brady, at 41, outdueled Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, then 23, in the second half and overtime at a frigid Arrowhead Stadium to lead New England to its sixth Super Bowl. With the Chiefs up 28-24 late in the fourth quarter, an offside penalty by Dee Ford negated a Brady interception that would have put the game away for KC. Brady led a 65-yard drive capped by a TD with 39 seconds left in regulation. Mahomes then led the Chiefs on a drive for a tying field goal to force OT. After the Pats won the coin toss, another Brady TD drive in OT, this one a 75-yard march capped by a Rex Burkhead 2-yard run, finished off another stirring New England victory. 

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Youth - that means draft success - will have to fuel Pats' reboot

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Youth - that means draft success - will have to fuel Pats' reboot

It's simple, really. If the Patriots are going to avoid staying home again after the Wild Card Round of the playoffs next season and seasons to come, they've got to get younger.

And to get younger, they've got to be more successful in the draft.

In the latest edition of Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast, Curran and Phil Perry focus on the last time New England was sent home this early in the playoffs a decade ago and if there can be lessons learned from that roster reboot in 2010. 

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The biggest issue confronting the Pats this time around is their age, which averages 31.6 years old (a 42-year-old quarterback skews that a little, of course). By comparison, the Super Bowl 54 opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs (26.8) and the San Francisco 49ers (26.6) are considerably younger.

Click here to listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: 

The age factor is why, as Perry pointed out, "the pressure is on for them to hit not only in this 2020 draft, where they do have 12 picks, they have no second-round pick, but 12 shots at the dartboard. Last year, they had 10 [picks] and nine guys are still with the team.

"It's clear they have told themselves, 'We need to get younger. We need to start hitting here if we want to sustain this success.' The draft is the lifeblood of any team."

The 2018 team and its victory in the Super Bowl over the Rams last February worked to hide some of those flaws from recent low-yield draft classes.

"They had a great quarterback when they needed him. They had a Hall of Fame quarterback when they needed him. The defense looked tremendous we know how that story played out," Perry said. 

What kind of draft yield are we talking about to fuel the next generation of Patriots' success?

Curran goes on to rattle off the names from 2008-2012 drafts (Mayo, Slater, Edelman, Vollmer, Butler, Chung, Gronkowski, McCourty) that fueled the second half of the Pats dynasty.

"I have upwards of 30 names from 2008 to 2012 who were contributing players to the Patriots. I'm not even talking a little contributing, but massive contributing...," Curran said.  

There's also a discussion of how the uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady will impact the 2020 draft strategy. Listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

 

That 617 Life Podcast: Patriots' ties to a Pats-less Super Bowl

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That 617 Life Podcast: Patriots' ties to a Pats-less Super Bowl

The Patriots may have been missing from the NFL's Championship Sunday, but that didn't stop them from being mentioned and having their former personnel play prominent roles in the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

Whether it was former Pats linebacker Mike Vrabel coaching the Tennessee Titans against the Kansas City Chiefs or former New England quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo helping the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers to reach Super Bowl 54, the Patriots continue to be a talked-about team. 

On the latest edition of the "That 617 Life" podcast, Leroy Irvin, Shanda Foster and Cerrone Battle discussed how the Pats still loomed over the games on Sunday.

"You can not say anything bad about the Patriots because we are always constantly producing talent," Foster said. "I think this is the perfect testament to Bill Belichick."

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Battle said it speaks to the dominance of the Patriots the past two decades that connections to their former players and staff are now all over the league.

"That's what happens when you win," Battle said. "When you win, everybody wants a piece. They want your waterboy. Look at the new head coach of the Giants [Joe Judge, the former Patriots special teams and receivers coach]?... When you're good for 20 years eventually you're going to have your roots all over the league. After years and years of success, I'm not shocked by it."

Irvin and Foster said instead of lamenting a rare NFL Final Four without New England, Pats fans should be grateful.

"I wish Patriot Nation would grow up," Irvin said. "By that I mean I'm tired of seeing on social media people just crying and complaining, 'Oh it's boring without the Patriots.' We've had almost two decades of excellence. We're not there. Get over it."

Said Foster, "I was grateful more than anything. Filled with gratitude. We may never see a run like this again."

In his "Hot Takes and Cold Cuts" segment, Battle says those crowning the Super Bowl 54 opponents as the next dynasties might want to pump the brakes a little. 

"First thing I heard [after the games] is, 'Kansas City they're gonna be around for years and San Francisco they're gonna be around for a long time. They're gonna be contenders forever,' " Battle said. "That was the story all day. 'What is anybody gonna do about these teams next year?' What are they gonna do next year? Not even worry about them. Why? Because this is the Not For Long League. The NFL. Every year, the teams that were hot the year before are never guaranteed to be hot the year after that. Unless you're the Patriots."

The crew also gives their reactions to the new Aaron Hernandez Netflix documentary. It's all in this week's "That 617 Life" podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast network. Click here to listen and subscribe.