Wow. I couldn’t wrap my head around this game in order to write a recap Saturday night, Sunday, or Monday morning, and I’ve pretty much given up hope. I’ll post a lot about the Colts game coming up and a little on some specifics about the Ravens game, such as how the porous Pats run defense looked, but for the most part, you can stick to the millions of insightful and analytical recaps of the game on the internet. I’ll be sticking to recapping the game only from the perspective of an appreciative fan, which is the only way that I can really view this game.
It had everything. Not one huge comeback, but two. In fact, that was the only time in NFL postseason history that a team came from down 14 twice in the same game. It had the history between the Ravens-Pats, tons of bad blood evinced by the shoving matches and tons of personal foul calls. It had a trick play, tons of fumble luck for the Pats (I still have no idea how Amendola, but especially Edelman, recovered that fumble), a surprise great performance by Amendola, Gronk going off, and tons of other variables that I’m only not including because this sentence is already way too long.
So where does that one rank? Here’s a quick list, and the only criteria for the list are that postseason games obviously matter more, and these games are in the order of what was the best for Pats fans to watch, not the best football games period.
Pats kicking Texans ass in 2012 in what Andre Johnson said was the biggest game in Texans franchise history, Pats stomping the Bengals earlier this year as the crowd chanted “Bra-dy!,” Titans ice bowl Divisional Game in 2003, Super Bowl 39, Drew Bledsoe beats the Steelers in 2001 AFCCG, Pats offense goes HAM against the Colts in Brady’s first start, Pats-Chargers 2006 AFCDG, Pats-Colts 2007, Pats beat Browns after Gronk gets injured when Gostkowski makes a beautiful onside kick, and Pats blow out the Titans 59-0 in 2009. Isn’t it amazing that there are this many honorable mentions, and I’m probably forgetting a bunch? God, we’re lucky.
10: Patriots come back down 27-3 vs. Bears, Week 10 2002.
Be honest, you forgot this one. And I’ll be honest, I’m really proud of myself for remembering this one. The Pats were down 24 in Chicago, and then won 33-30 in the game where we all realized that our quarterback’s clutchness from the season before wasn’t a fluke. Brady had to throw 55 times to will his team to victory, which was pretty absurd in 2002 for a team that was supposed to be based on defense.
9: Patriots barely survive Ravens (the first time) in 2011 AFC Championship Game.
Sterling Moore, Lee Evans, Billy Cundiff. This game should not have been decided by these players, but that’s what has to happen when Tom Brady played a game in which he admitted that he sucked. Remember when Brandon Spikes got a huge interception, only for Brady to stupidly throw to a double covered Matthew Slater for a ridiculous, acrobatic interception? Yeah, that all happened, as well as Brady jumping for a go ahead QB sneak on 4th and goal from inches away when down by 4 in the 4th. By the end of the game, the Pats felt that they got a gift from not just Billy Cundiff, but the football gods themselves. Feels kinda like how we feel now, no?
8: Patriots beat Saints, who had already celebrated victory, in Week 6 2013.
Seeing Rob Ryan’s defense celebrate beating the mighty Patriots’ offense in Foxboro, but the offense couldn’t run out the clock. And then Tom Brady, the most clutch quarterback ever, responds by marching his team down the field, completing a 4th down pass to All Pro receiver Austin Collie, and then making what may have been his best throw ever to Kenbrell Thompkins with 5 seconds to go. To top it all off, this was the same day as David Ortiz’s season-saving grand slam, so it may be one of the best Boston sports days of all time.
7: Brady comes back and beats Buffalo, Week 1 2009.
Brady’s back! He’s back! The 2007 MVP came back in 2009 after the torn ACL that limited his 2008 season to just 76 yards, and then he struggled mightily in the first half of the game. But that didn’t matter when the Bills stupidly gave Brady another shot just to test how good he really was, culminated by the Leodis McKelvin fumble on the kickoff right before Brady’s 2nd of 2 TD passes to Ben Watson to take the lead. The year before, the world had forgotten how lucky New England was. That night, they remembered.
6: Pats come back against Manning and the Broncos on Sunday Night, Week 12 2013.
Welker came back, and promptly made the fatal error in the Broncos, but not before the Pats came back from a 24 point deficit. The Pats’ horrible offense and defense was compounded by 2 horrible fumbles in the 1st quarter, and they went into halftime with some wondering whether or not it was time to put in Ryan Mallett. Then Brady, Edelman, and Gronk brought the Pats offense back, and suddenly Peyton Manning looked like the Peyton Manning that we know and love in Foxboro. Wes Welker caused the Broncos to fumble a punt late in overtime, and Stephen Gostkowski made the Broncos pay, and sent them home with a loss.
5: Patriots destroy the trash talking Jets 45-3 on Monday Night Football, Week 13 2010.
Remember how the Jets said they were gonna take the division by coming into Foxboro and shut the Patriots up? Well, the Pats reminded a national television audience who Mark Sanchez was, and they reminded everyone who the New England Patriots were. Pats were scoring 20+ yard touchdowns on 4th and 3, just because they could.
4: Patriots barely survive Ravens, Part II, 2014 AFCDG.
Pretty comfortable with where this one fits in. Even in Brady’s 14th season, we’re still getting treated to the 4th best game of this amazing run.
3: Patriots win a wild one vs. Panthers to claim second title, Super Bowl 38.
Except for one horrible, underthrown interception, Brady was awesome — kind of like this past Saturday actually. No one scored until the final few minutes of the 2nd quarter, and then it was 14-10 Patriots at half. Then no one scored in the 3rd quarter, but the Pats survived the Panthers by converting on their only 2 point conversion, while John Fox’s squad missed both of theirs. Funny thing about this game that no one realizes: Both teams had 4 touchdowns and 1 field goal, but because of the way the 2 point conversions went, the Pats won by 3, 32-29. Of course, Brady finished it off with his 2nd game winning Super Bowl drive in 3 years.
2: The Tuck Rule Game: Patriots beat Raiders because of the worst rule in sports, 2001 AFCDG.
HAHAHAHA. This one still makes me laugh, and Oakland Raiders fans have every right to still be pissed over it. It’s a rule so stupid that the NFL overwhelmingly voted to get rid of it about a decade later. That being said, Tom Brady still engineered a huge comeback, in the snow in his first career playoff game, and Adam Vinatieri had a game that should be the number 1 game mentioned with his Hall of Fame candidacy. His 45 yard tying kick in the final minute may very well be the greatest play of all time, and anyone who thinks I’m exaggerating is completely underestimating the skill required for that kick. Overall, this game was pretty reminiscent of Brady’s career in general: A lot of luck, the team around him helps him a ton, but his play overall still reflects all the good fortune around him.
1: Super Bowl 36: Pats beat Rams as 2 touchdown underdogs, claim first title.
This game was Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at their finest. Belichick shut down one of the best offenses of all time with his gameplan that is now in the Hall of Fame itself, and Tom Brady… well, just watch. This is the stuff where legends are born.