New England Patriots History

New England Patriots - Team History

New England Patriots, professional football team and one of four teams in the East Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL). Formerly called the Boston Patriots, the team plays its home games at Gillette Field in Foxboro, Massachusetts, and wears uniforms of blue, red, silver, and white. The team’s name was inspired by Boston’s role in the American Revolution (1775-1783).

The Patriots fielded several strong teams during the 1970s and 1980s, reaching the playoffs five times from 1976 to 1986. Star players during the period included quarterback Tony Eason, tight end Russ Francis, future Hall of Fame offensive guard John Hannah, cornerback Mike Haynes, and linebacker Steve Nelson. Following the 1985 season, the club played in the Super Bowl but lost to the Chicago Bears. In the mid-1990s, New England again became a powerhouse in the Eastern Division. It won the 1996 AFC championship and then lost to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. The Patriots finally triumphed in their third Super Bowl visit, defeating the favored St. Louis Rams in 2002.

The Boston Patriots joined the American Football League (AFL) as a charter member in 1960. In its second season the team compiled a winning record. Eleven Patriots played in the 1963 AFL All-Star Game as head coach Mike Holovak steered Boston to a tie for the Eastern Division title. The team boasted many stars, including linebackers Tom Addison and Nick Buoniconti, wide receiver—placekicker Gino Cappelletti, running back Jim Nance, and quarterback Babe Parilli.

The Patriots struggled from 1964 to 1969, posting winning records in only two of six seasons. In 1967 Nance received the league’s most valuable player (MVP) award. The club joined the NFL in 1970, establishing its home in Foxboro. Because the team played its games outside of Boston, the franchise was renamed in 1971 as the New England Patriots to appeal to a greater number of fans. The Patriots had a slow start in the NFL, winning no more than seven games in a season from 1970 to 1975.

New England made a remarkable turnaround in 1976, finishing with an 11-3 win-loss record and earning a wildcard berth to the playoffs under head coach Chuck Fairbanks. The team starred Russ Francis, John Hannah, Mike Haynes, and Steve Nelson. In 1978, led by second-year quarterback Steve Grogan, the Patriots won their first NFL Eastern Division crown. In the early 1980s, however, New England again dropped to the bottom of the division.

Coached by Raymond Berry, the Patriots made back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in franchise history in 1985 and 1986. A wildcard team in 1985, New England won three hard-fought AFC playoff games to reach Super Bowl XX, where they lost to the Chicago Bears, 46-10. In 1986 quarterback Tony Eason surpassed the 3,000-yard mark for the second time, while wide receiver Stanley Morgan led the AFC in yardage with his third 1,000-yard season. Cornerback Raymond Clayborn and linebacker Andre Tippett starred defensively. New England, however, lost in the divisional playoffs to the Denver Broncos, 22-17.

The Patriots floundered from 1987 to 1993, bottoming out in 1990 with a 1-15 record. The team rebounded in 1994 behind second-year quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who led the NFL in passing yards. Former New York Giants coach Bill Parcells coached the Patriots to two more playoff appearances in 1995 and 1996. Powered by Bledsoe and running back Curtis Martin, New England captured the AFC championship in 1996 before losing in the Super Bowl to the Green Bay Packers, 35-21. After the loss, Parcells resigned and former San Francisco 49ers defensive coodinator Pete Carroll was hired to replace him. Before the 2000 season, former Cleveland Browns head coach Bill Belichick replaced Carroll. Despite a 5-11 record in his first year, Belichick built a contender that went 11-5 in 2001. The Patriots then pulled off a series of postseason upsets, culminating in a 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl. Quarterback Tom Brady, who replaced Bledsoe early in the season, was named the game’s most valuable player (MVP). Brady repeated as MVP with the Patriots’ victory in the 2004 Super Bowl. In a remarkable season, again led by head coach Belichick, the Patriots ran off 15 straight victories, including the Super Bowl, the second longest winning streak in NFL history.

1986 Super Bowl XX Lost to Chicago Bears, 46-10

1997 Super Bowl XXXI Lost to Green Bay Packers, 35-21

2002 Super Bowl XXXVI Defeated St. Louis Rams, 20-17

2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII Defeated Carolina Panthers, 32-29

2005 Super Bowl XXXIX Defeated Philadelphia 24-21

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