In the heyday of the New England Patriots’ dynasty, Gillette Stadium appeared to be an impenetrable fortress. Frankly, it was.
Between 2002, when the stadium was opened, and Tom Brady’s final season with the organization, the Patriots went 140-27 at home for a winning percentage of 0.838. They won 121 of their 144 regular season games and 19 of 23 playoff contests. Traveling to Foxborough, especially late in the year, was never a pleasant thing to do for teams.
Since Brady’s departure, however, a lot has changed. The Patriots’ home dominance is one of these things.
While not directly tied to the legendary quarterback, the Gillette Stadium mystique has been lost a bit as of late. New England still went 5-3 at home last year, albeit under unique circumstances caused by the Coronavirus pandemic: there were no fans in the stands throughout the 2020 season.
While fans have returned this year, the winning has not. Quite the opposite actually: the Patriots’ 35-29 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday has dropped the team’s home record to 0-4 on the season — something that has not happened in 28 years.
“It does not feel good to not have a win at home. It doesn’t feel good to lose anywhere, though,” said starting center David Andrews after the game.
The last time the Patriots lost their first four home games came in 1993, the first season under head coach Bill Parcells and rookie quarterback Drew Bledsoe. New England ended up going 3-5 at home, finishing the year 5-11. While that season was a disappointment, it ended with a better record than the other two that saw the franchise open its home slate with an 0-4 record.
In 1992, the Patriots ended up winning only one game at home en route to going 2-14. In 1969, they went 2-5 during a 4-10 season.
The 2021 team is more talented than any of these others, but the results do not show it so far. New England is 2-4 on the season, with all four of those losses coming at home.
While interesting, the historical perspective does not matter to the team’s current situation — something safety Devin McCourty pointed out during his postgame press conference after the loss against Dallas.
“It is what it is. I say it all the time, everything in the past has nothing to do with this year. I don’t think anybody thinks about the 2004 team and says, ‘Man, it was tough in ‘04 we have got to go there now in ‘21.’ It just is what it is,” he said.
“We are the 2021 Patriots who haven’t won at home. The past doesn’t matter. What those guys did in the past won’t help us. We just had to make a few plays at the end. It’s not like we’re coming in here at home and have no shot to win. All of these games, even the Saints game, it came down to a couple of plays that we’re not finishing and we’re falling short.”