The history of the New England Patriots begins in 1959 with the creation of the American Football League. Eight franchises were created to start the league and Billy Sullivan was awarded the Patriots. He allowed the fans of the Boston area to suggest names for the new franchise and they became known as the Boston Patriots. During the time of the AFL the Patriots only made the playoffs once in 1963. The Patriots made it to the AFL Championship game, but lost to the San Diego Chargers. The struggles of the New England (renamed in 1971) Patriots continued after the NFL-AFL merger. The Patriots finally made it back to the playoffs in 1976, but were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl Champions Oakland Raiders. The Patriots made the playoffs again in 1978 and 1982, but were defeated in the first round each time. In 1985, the Patriots had their most successful season in team history. The Patriots defeated the New York Jets in the first round to win their first playoff game in over two decades. After defeating the Raiders in the second round, the Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game and clinched their first trip to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the Patriots were crushed in the Super Bowl 46-10 by the Chicago Bears. The Patriots returned the playoffs in 1986, but fell to the Denver Broncos in the first round. The Patriots did not return the playoffs until 1994.
Bill Parcels was hired as head coach in 1993 and with the first pick in the 1993 NFL Draft he selected quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Parcels managed to get the Patriots back to the playoffs after being the worst team in the league just two years prior. In 1996 the Patriots made it back to their second Super Bowl in team history. But once again the Patriots were defeated in the Super Bowl, this time at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. Parcels resigned after the Super Bowl loss and Pete Carroll was hired as his replacement. Carroll’s tenure in New England lasted just three seasons,the Patriots gradually declining each season.
The New England Patriots made their two most important decisions in franchise history in 2000. The first decision was the hiring of Bill Belichick as head coach. The second was drafted quarterback Tom Brady in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft. The Patriots finished with a 5-11 record in 2000, but the pieces were in place for a remarkable 2001 season. The Patriots began the season 0-2 and starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was badly injured in the second game. Tom Brady took over in week three and the Patriots won their first game of the season. Brady continued to play well and remained the starter even after Bledsoe had recovered from his injury. The Patriots ended the season on a six game winning streak and clinched the AFC East Division Championship. The Patriots played the Oakland Raiders in the Divisional round in what would become known as the “tuck rule game”. The Patriots were down by 3 in the final minutes of the game when Brady was sacked and appeared to fumble the ball, which was recovered by Oakland. However, the play was reviewed and the play was ruled an incomplete pass. Brady then drove his team into field goal range and Adam Vinatieri tied the game and Vinatieri won the game in overtime on his third field goal of the game. Brady was injured the following week in the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Drew Bledsoe replaced him and guided the Patriots to their third Super Bowl in team history. However, Bill Belichick announced that Tom Brady would start the Super Bowl. The Patriots were heavy underdogs against the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI. Late in the fourth quarter the Rams tied the game at 17-17. However Tom Brady drove his team into field goal range and Adam Vinatieri won the game on a 48 yard field goal. The Patriots were Super Bowl Champions for the first time in team history.
The Patriots missed the playoffs in 2002, but returned to the Super Bowl in 2003 and 2004. In 2003 Tom Brady once again drove his team into field goal range in the final seconds of the Super Bowl. Adam Vinatieri again nailed the game winning field goal and the Patriots were Super Bowl Champions again. In 2004 the Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 to clinch their 3rd Super Bowl in four years. The Patriots two year run as Super Bowl Champion came to an end in 2005. In 2006 the Patriots lost in the AFC Championship game to Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots added Randy Moss and Wes Welker before the 2007 and the two of them paired with Tom Brady were nearly unstoppable. The Patriots did not lose a game in the regular season and became the first team in NFL history to have a record of 16-0. Tom Brady threw 50 touchdown passes and was named league MVP. The Patriots were 18-0 heading into Super Bowl 42 against the New York Giants. The Patriots upset the Giants in a stunning 17-14 loss and the Patriots went on to finish the season 18-1. However, the Pats saw more difficult times as Tom Brady was lost for the season just one game into the 2008 season. However, backup quarterback Matt Cassell led the team to an 11-5 record, but the Patriots missed the playoffs due to tie breakers. The Patriots were one and done in the playoffs in the 2009 and 2010 season. In 2011 the Patriots came closer to their old ways and went 13-3, and also won their 5th AFC Championship since 2001. However, the Patriots were defeated by the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.