Training Camp is underway!
If my calculations are correct, the Patriots have just wrapped up their morning practice session and will be taking a break before the afternoon sessions begin. So what better time to keep our countdown of the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2016 going?
The list so far:
20. The New England Patriots trade Jamie Collins to Cleveland for a bag of peanuts.
19. LeGarrette Blount runs through the entire Seahawks line on his way to the end zone.
18. A Chris Long strip sack helps to ice the game against the New York Jets.
17. The Patriots defense shuts down Trevor Siemian and the Denver Broncos on the road.
16. LeGarrette Blount owns Byron Maxwell with an epic hurdle.
15. A different kind of Malcolm Go highlights a convincing road win against the San Francisco 49ers.
14. Chris Hogan finds some nice redemption against his old team in the form of a beautiful 53 yard TD.
13. Shea McClellin leaps the line to block a FG against the Baltimore Ravens.
12. LeGarrette Blount sets a franchise record with his 15th rushing TD of the year against the Denver Broncos.
11. Tom Brady hits Chris Hogan for a 79 yard TD to ice the game against the Baltimore Ravens.
10. Rob Gronkowski sets a Patriots All-Time receiving TD record by notching his 69th against the Buffalo Bills.
9. A kickoff return for a TD highlights a historic night for Dion Lewis in the AFC Divisional Round against the Houston Texans.
8. Dont'a Hightower blows up Andy Dalton for a safety to give the Patriots some much-needed momentum against the Cincinnati Bengals.
7. Michael Floyd decapitates Tony Lippett to spring Julian Edelman for a 77 yard touchdown.
6. A Jacoby Brissett naked bootleg highlights a Thursday night shutout of the Houston Texans.
5. Tom Brady returns from suspension to the tune of 406 yards and 3 TDs in an absolute beatdown of the Cleveland Browns.
Given how the 2016 season played out, it's almost as if folks have forgotten about our Number 4 moment. But when something this monumental happens, you need to give it its due.
4. Tom Brady becomes the winningest quarterback in NFL history by notching win #201 against the St. Louis Rams.
Week 13 of the 2016 season saw the St. Louis Rams coming to Gillette Stadium to play a Patriots team looking to secure yet another double-digit win season. New England, sitting at 9-2, had just come off a narrow win over the New York Jets on the road, whereas the Rams had just lost their second straight, a 49-21 beatdown at the hands of the Saints. Jeff Fisher, still inexplicably holding onto a head coaching job, was hoping to salvage his season and the progress of his young quarterback Jared Goff by at least making a game out of it.
Unfortunately for Fisher, this was only a game in the technical sense. New England jumped out to a 7-0 lead on their opening possession, an eight play, 80 yard drive that took less than five minutes, and never looked back. The score at halftime was 17-0, and it was 26-3 by the time the fourth quarter started. The Rams were able to score an absolutely meaningless touchdown with less than two minutes to play, courtesy of a 66 yard Goff-to-Kenny Britt connection on 4th and 11 when the Patriots defense was fast asleep, but other than that one play the Rams had done absolutely nothing on offense all day. The Patriots were able to take their foot off the gas at the half, coast to a few more scores in the 3rd quarter, and that was more or less all she wrote. New England 26, St. Louis 10, in a game that was more or less over after the very first drive.
All in all, this game was a complete snoozer. There are a few nice plays in there, but for the most part, Pats/Rams '16 isn't going to be making any waves in terms of highlight reel material. So what the hell is it doing sitting here at Number 4, especially given all of the amazing moments behind it.
I'll answer that question with another number: 201.
With this victory, Tom Brady became the most successful quarterback in the entire history of the NFL. His 201st win put him above Peyton Manning, as the QB with the most victories ever. No other quarterback who has ever put on a helmet has won as many games as Tommy B has.
There's no disputing that there are some records that carry more weight than others. All records are impressive in their own right (unless it's something like....you know...playoff losses), but some just matter more. And in the United States, at least, there's one thing we place above all others in the wide world of sports: winning. If you're a winner, then you get respect. Individual stats and achievements are great, but at the end of the day it's all about the size of the number in the W column. And for the quarterback of the New England Patriots, that number is now the highest of all time. If that isn't worthy of the 4 spot, I don't know what is.
You know what my favorite part of this moment is? Like our Number 5 Moment, there was nothing overly remarkable about this game. In fact, as far as Tommy B's performances go, this one -33 of 46 for 269 yards and a TD- was somewhat lackluster. Nothing remarkable about Brady's game whatsoever. But that's a massive part of what makes him great, in my opinion. There was no need to pad stats and chase numbers. Brady could have aired it out more, had a career day, and set the record in style...but he didn't need to. Generating a win against the Rams was best achieved by clock control, defense, and confusing a green quarterback, and so that's what the Patriots did. Brady has never been about individual accolades. He's team first, all the time, and I can guarantee you that this win didn't mean anything to him.
The latest win he added to his own record - win number 208 - most likely meant a great deal to him...but maybe we'll get to that later.
Game highlights here.