The New England Patriots are off this weekend, which gives us opportunity to look forward and backward, around the league, and at other stories usually buried underneath all the Patriots news. One of those stories is a recent “Top 10”-feature produced by NFL Films.
The show, which can be watched here in its entirety, focuses on the top 10 clutch drives – and the Patriots are part of four of them; for better or for worse. Let's take a look at which Patriots-related drives are listed.
10. Patriots' game-winning drive in Super Bowl XXXVI: Tied at 17 versus the then-St. Louis Rams, New England drove 53 yards in nine plays to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history. Despite only 1:30 left on the clock and no timeouts available, the team trusted first-year starter Tom Brady to lead it to the promised land. And lead Brady did, setting up the first-ever walk-off score in Super Bowl history; a 48-yard kick by Adam Vinatieri.
8. Giants' game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLVI: New England was on the losing end of two championship drives versus the New York Giants. The second of those drives came in Super Bowl XLVI and saw the Patriots’ defense fail to stop its opponent from marching 88 yards in nine plays. The show focuses not only on New England letting its opponent score late in the game, but also on Eli Manning's pin-point throw to Mario Manningham.
6. Giants' game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLII: The first of the Giants' Super Bowl-winning drives agains the Patriots happened four years earlier and spoiled New England's attempt at a 19-0 season. While the most noteworthy play of the drive was David Tyree's “Helmet Catch”, the show also illustrates how often the Patriots' defense had a chance to stop New York and win the game.
1. Patriots' game-tying drive in Super Bowl LI: In order to complete their 25-point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, the Patriots needed to drive 91 yards with 3:30 left on the clock – and also convert a two-pointer after a potential touchdown. New England did all that in impressive fashion, which prompted NFL Films to crown the march that set up overtime as the “most clutch drive of all time”.
A bit of recency bias might be involved but considering the circumstances, it is hard to argue against Super Bowl LI featuring the most clutch drive of all time.
The other six drives on NFL Films' list looks as follows:
9. 49ers' game-winning drive in the 1981 NFC Championship Game
7. Colts' game-winning drive in the 1958 NFL Championship Game
5. 49ers' game-winning drive in Super Bowl XXIII
4. Packers' game-winning drive in the 1967 NFL Championship Game
3. Broncos' game-tying drive in the 1986 AFC Championship Game
2. Steelers' game-winning drive in Super Bowl XLIII