As many of you may or may not have heard, the NFL has uploaded 96 games as voted by fans, three per team, to Youtube. Every team obviously has a minimum of three games, some have many more, some have many less. The Patriots have the third most games available, a total of 10 (the Packers and Cowboys are tied with thirteen each).
Many of the games voted for show quite a recency bias, and also who teams are VERY excited to beat. The other fans hate our Patriots. You already knew that and so did I.
Let’s take a look at the seven games voted by other teams fans and relive them a little, ranked by heartbreak, and also ranked by what we learned:
7: Monday night football at Carolina, November 18 2013
This game had the lowest stakes of all the games, it barely puts up a fight. It has distinctiveness for several reasons: The Patriots were beaten after a bye week, which is quite a rarity around Belichick coached teams. This was the game that it became clear that Aqib Talib wasn’t a big subscriber to “The Patriot Way”, losing his cool because of some personal nonsense with Steve Smith.
Finally, and most importantly, it was a national stage for the (un)official unveiling of the “Shaq Rules” for Gronk, where he gets officiated differently both for and against due to him being so much bigger and so much stronger than anyone that is tasked with covering him.
6: Super Bowl XX vs Chicago Bears, 1985 season
The Patriots were just incredibly overmatched (as would have been basically anyone in that game), and it took no time for that to become evident. All stories seem to reflect a very “happy to be there” attitude for the fanbase, as it showed hope for future versus a not so great pastfor the Patriots at that point.
This was also the “not quite” decade for Boston/New England sports. The Celtics won titles in 1981, 1984 and 1986, The Bruins made Stanley Cup appearances 1988 and 1990, the Red Sox made the World Series in 1986, and the Patriots were in this Super Bowl in 1986. Growing up in the 90s and barely remembering 80s sports, my dad always mentioned how everything was so close to great. Glad we got to see that fully come to fruition twenty years later.
5: AFCCG vs Ravens, 2012 season
This game was uglier than it showed on the scoreboard, and it was quite a frustrating game to watch. Talib goes down in an AFC Championship game, Gronk rebroke his arm the week before versus the Texans, Edelman was stuck covering an Anquan Boldin that was playing out of his mind, perhaps accidentally inhaling some deer antler spray owned by Ray Lewis in the locker room. We can’t prove whether that did or did not happen, so let’s launch and investiga……..nah.
4: Superbowl XXXI vs Green Bay, 1996 season
This one felt so close, yet so far. Everyone could smell the potential comeback when the Patriots scored to be down seven before Desmond Howard returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. In hindsight, we all know if it was close and there was a potential comeback, Drew was throwing a 4th quarter pick. Drew Bledsoe, if you’re reading this, I apologize for that dig. Please send me a bottle of Doubleback (free plug for your wine. We good?).
3: AFCCG at Colts, 2006 season
HOW DID THEY LOSE THIS GAME. Period, not question mark. The first half had all the makings of a complete and total rout, and it’s almost as if they convinced themselves it was all over after the Asante Samuel pick-6. They were absolutely winning the Super Bowl if they hung on here. Despite the loss, this game holds a special place in my heart because of the amount of offensive lineman touchdowns (Logan Mankins and Jeff Saturday). Unfortunately, this also officially kicked off the “Peyton Manning can beat Brady!” train, which made for a great rivalry but also was the beginning of the end of being able to really poke fun at Peyton without recourse, and who among us Patriot fans didn’t love those days?
2: AFCDG vs Jets, 2010
Six weeks earlier, the Patriots absolutely destroyed the Jets on national television. This time, the Jets defense came in like bullies, and the Pats D allowed Mark Sanchez to look like a god in this game. Gross. Kudos to Rex Ryan for having a plan and executing it perfectly, let’s all hope that this game is his crowning jewel, and never to be matched, replicated, or topped.
1: Super Bowl XLII
Okay, we all know that this game is the helmet catch. The Eighteen-and-one. This one still stings. What did we learn? How to cope with having it all and losing it. I’m sure for other fan bases, this season echoed every superhero movie that exists: “That menacing villain is so powerful! How can they be stopped?! Save us, hero!”, and somehow, in the final battle, it all went to hell.
To end this on a happy note, the three games selected by Patriots fans were Superbowl 36, Superbowl 49, and The Snow Game vs the Raiders. We’re lucky to have many great memories, as is obvious by the healthy amount of respect shown to the Patriots from other fanbases.