It is finally here — the moment we’ve been waiting for: we get to decide the best New England Patriots game of the Bill Belichick/TomBrady era! It’s my belief that the two best games of the era are facing off. I’m sure that there are people who might think that Super Bowl 49 deserves a spot here, but the fans have spoken, and the final matchup is Super Bowl 51 vs Super Bowl 36! Let’s get into it:
Super Bowl 51 (#1)
This game has more “play of the game” plays than any other I’ve ever seen. Of course you know the story by now: the Patriots go down 28-3 against the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter, and then score 31 unanswered points to win the first overtime game in Super Bowl history. In between all that, there were about 472 huge plays that the Patriots absolutely had to make in order to win their fifth Super Bowl.
The most impressive play of the game might have been made by the Falcons’ Julio Jones, however, who had a crazy sideline catch that looked to put Atlanta in position to put the Patriots away. A combination of great defensive plays and questionable play calls pushed the Falcons out of field goal range, however, and then Tom Brady went on his very own Joe Montana Drive: 91 yards to tie the game, including a ridiculous third down pass that Brady threw under heavy pressure in his own end zone.
Super Bowl 51 the greatest comeback in NFL history, and gave Brady his fifth Super Bowl win, breaking his tie with childhood hero Montana. It’s a game that will never be forgotten by Patriots fans, and it might eventually turn March 28th into a Massachusetts holiday.
Super Bowl 36 (#1)
The game that started the legend of Tom Brady. Yes, the Patriots had already won two playoff games at that point, but they were 14 point underdogs in this game: they were playing the red hot Los Angeles Rams, and no one gave them a chance to win.
It was the defense that got the scoring started for the Patriots, with Ty Law picking Kurt Warner off and bringing the ball all the way back for a touchdown. In fact, it was almost a blowout when Kurt Warner fumbled on fourth down at the New England 3-yard line, Tebucky Jones picked up the ball, and went 97 yards for the score. That score would’ve given the Patriots a 24-3 lead in the fourth quarter, but a holding call on Willie McGinest brought the play back, and the Rams would score two plays later.
After Ricky Proehl tied the game up with a touchdown (he also tied Super Bowl 38 late for the Carolina Panthers two years later, good trivia knowledge), the Patriots got the ball with 1:21 left on the clock. John Madden gets criticized by some Patriots fans for sharing that they should kill the clock and play for overtime, and rightfully so since the Rams offense was clicking, but the Patriots were starting at their 17-yard line with a young QB.
Of course, Brady led them down into field goal range, thanks, in part, to a fantastic individual effort by J.R. Redmond. Adam Vinatieri then sent the Patriots home as World Champions. I still get chills when I hear Gil Santos’ call of that kick. Super Bowl 51 may have had a ton of plays in the game, but 36 was the culmination of so many of those plays that happened the last eight weeks of the 2001 season.
Super Bowl 51 vs Super Bowl 36
This poll is closed
Super Bowl 51
Super Bowl 36
(if you’re visiting via Google AMP or Apple News go to the full website version to vote)
Thanks for playing along these last few weeks, I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have. If nothing else, this was a great reminder of how lucky we are to be fans of the greatest franchise in the history of sports!
The “6x Champions” design is based on a shirt by our friends at Breaking T. Make sure to head over to get it and more Patriots gear — including the “Yo Soy Fiesta Forever” shirt honoring tight end Rob Gronkowski.