The New England Patriots have a storied history, including having played in 8 Superbowls. That’s pretty remarkable, considering there have only been 50 Superbowls. It means the Patriots have been to 16% of them. They’ve also won 4 times.
The Patriots first appeared in Superbowl XX in 1986 against the Chicago Bears. It was the first Superbowl for both teams. Unfortunately for the Pats, it was the Bears’ year all the way. Led by quarterback Jim McMahon and featuring running back Walter Payton and lineman William “The Fridge” Perry, the Bears won 46-10.
Their next shot came in 1997 in Superbowl XXXI. They lost again, this time to the Green Bay Packers 35-21. Although quarterback Drew Bledsoe had 11 more pass completions than Green Bay’s Brett Favre, he also threw 4 interceptions. The Pats could not overcome Favre or the Packers defense.
In 2002’s Superbowl XXXVI, New England met the St. Louis Rams. This time, the Patriots pulled out their first Superbowl win, 20-17. This was the first Superbowl for Tom Brady, who had replaced the injured Drew Bledsoe. No one would have guessed then that this 6th round draft pick from Michigan would go on to win 3 more. The Pats forced 3 turnovers in the game, and Brady led a drive in the 4th quarter to set up Adam Vinatieri’s winning 48-yard field goal.
In 2004, the Patriots met the Carolina Panthers in Superbowl XXXVIII. This was the Patriots’ second Superbowl victory, 32-29. Brady was now the team’s permanent starter. With 4 seconds left, Vinatieri once again kicked the winning field goal, and the Pats defense kept Carolina from the end zone.
The next year, in Superbowl XXXIX, the Patriots returned to play the Philadelphia Eagles. Under Tom Brady, they won again, 24-21. The game started badly for the Eagles when quarterback Donovan McNabb fumbled on the first drive. Things didn’t get better. McNabb threw an interception with 9 seconds left in the 4th. Brady threw for 236 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions.
In 2008, the Pats met the New York Giants in Superbowl XLII. This time, New England fell to the impressive Giants, 17-14. The game was considered a big upset, since the Patriots had just completed a perfect season. The Patriots led 7-3 in the 4th, but then Giants qb Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes, which sealed New England’s fate.
The Patriots didn’t return to the big game until 2012 in Superbowl XLVI. This time, it was against the Giants again, and, once again, New York sent the Pats home without rings. The Giants jumped to a quick 9-0 lead. The Patriots then scored 17 points in response, but that was all they would do. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw scored the winning touchdown with 57 seconds left, and the Patriots were not able to answer. The final score was Giants 21, Patriots 17.
In 2015’s Superbowl XLIX, the Patriots won on an inexplicable last-minute call by the Seattle Seahawks. With 26 seconds left, the Seahawks had the ball on the Patriots 1-yard line. The whole stadium was sure they would give it to running back Marshawn Lynch to carry in, but on a pass play Seattle qb Russell Wilson threw an interception. Two subsequent penalties on Seattle, one for encroachment and one for unsportsmanlike conduct, allowed the Patriots to advance the ball out of the end zone. Brady took a knee, and the Patriots were Superbowl champs with a 28-24 win.
Through the years, the Patriots have shown a lot of improvement and a lot of grit. Our forefathers would approve!