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Ranking the Patriots’ 10 most underrated Super Bowl plays

Related: The Scho Show: Previewing Super Bowl 55

Super Bowl XLIX - New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images

Over the past two decades, the New England Patriots produced countless highlight-reel moments en route to six Super Bowl victories. But while the big plays — from the Malcolm Butler interception, to the Edelman catch, to Adam Vinatieri’s game-winners — consistently steal the show when those games are discussed, there are others who would qualify as ”big plays“ as well even though they are not getting the same kind of publicity.

The Patriots not being in the Super Bowl this season means that now is a perfect time to look back at just those moments. The list is of course subjective, but it does present an overview of some possibly forgotten moments that helped New England bring six Vince Lombardi Trophies home. And yes, we’re only focusing on moments from successful games. Why would we like to relive Super Bowl 42, after all?

10. Stephen Gostkowski ices Super Bowl 53

With only 1:16 remaining in a low scoring Super Bowl against the Los Angeles Rams, the Patriots faced 4th-and-inches. While there was some sideline discussion about going for it, New England decided to take the points to effectively ice the game while going up 13-3. Stephen Gostkowski came onto the field to attempt a 41-yard kick after having made one of two tries earlier in the game — a huge play for his team, with a miss potentially having huge implications. Gostkowski, however, did not miss.

Click here to watch the play.

9. Richard Seymour with the tip

Down 3-0 to the heavily favored Rams in the early second quarter of Super Bowl 36, the Patriots needed to get a defensive stop with the opposing offense already on the edge of field goal range. They got it when defensive tackle Richard Seymour was able to tip a pass attempt by quarterback Kurt Warner on 3rd-and-5 to force an incompletion. The play forced the Rams, then still calling St. Louis their home, to settle for a 52-yard field goal that ultimately sailed incomplete. Seymour’s tip helped New England stay within three points.

Click here to watch the play.

8. Rob Ninkovich forces a three-and-out

The Patriots entered the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 49 down 10 points against the best defense of its time. After a punt to open the period, however, New England’s own D rose to the occasion. The subsequent Seattle Seahawks drive ended after just three plays, thanks in part to defensive end Rob Ninkovich finding a way into the backfield to take down quarterback Russell Wilson for an 8-yard sack. The takedown did not only prevent Seattle from taking any more time off the clock on that possession, but also helped set up the first of two fourth quarter touchdowns by Tom Brady and the New England offense.

Click here to watch the play.

7. Tedy Bruschi drops into coverage

After going up 24-14 midway through the fourth quarter in Super Bowl 39 versus the Philadelphia Eagles, the Patriots quickly saw their opponent march down the field — reaching the New England 36-yard line thanks to a 36-yard pass from Donovan McNabb to Terrell Owens. With momentum shifting towards the Eagles, however, Tedy Bruschi delivered a huge play: the veteran linebacker dropped back into coverage to intercept another deep passing attempt and end what had been a promising drive for Philadelphia.

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6. Atlanta can’t get back into field goal range

All the Atlanta Falcons needed to do was kick a field goal and Super Bowl 51 would effectively have been over. However, that did not go as planned despite the team reaching New England’s 22-yard line with under five minutes left in the game. A loss of 1-yard was followed by a 12-yard sack and a penalty against the offense. A 3rd-and-33 had the Patriots defense in a favorable position, but Atlanta only needed to gain a handful of yards to get back into field goal range again. They did not: Matt Ryan fired wide to Tyler Gabriel with Malcolm Butler in coverage, setting up a punt — and the Patriots’ game-tying touchdown drive.

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5. Danny Amendola’s fourth down catch sparks a comeback for the ages

Down 28-3 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter against the Falcons, the Patriots were in do-or-die mode. This also meant that they would have to go for it on 4th-and-3 at their own 46-yard line. The play that sparked a comeback for the ages was a rather simple one: Danny Amendola running an out-route from the left-side slot, with Tom Brady delivering a pin-point pass. The connection allowed New England to pick up the necessary yardage, and more. Amendola took the pass for a gain of 17 yards.

Click here to watch the play.

4. Julian Edelman converts a crucial third down in Super Bowl 49

Down 10 points with only 11 minutes left to play, Tom Brady and Julian Edelman had one of the biggest connection of their illustrious career together. Facing a 3rd-and-14, Brady masterfully climbed the pocket to buy some more time against a ferocious Seahawks pass rush. This did not just allow him to evade the rush, but also to gave Edelman some time to get open in Seattle’s secondary. Brady found him for the conversion, as the wide receiver held onto the football even while absorbing a hit by safety Cam Chancellor.

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3. ‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ get taken down

Coming out of the half in Super Bowl 36 trailing 14-3, the Rams’ high-octane offense found its footing. Pass plays of 20 and 22 yards as well as a defensive pass interference call against New England quickly brought the team all the way to the Patriots’ 41-yard line. At that point, however, the defense came up big again: Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel were able to get to Kurt Warner and take him down for a loss of seven yards. The sack killed St. Louis’ momentum and eventually led to a punt.

Click here to watch the play.

2. Tom Brady and Deion Branch set up the game-winner

With only 15 seconds to go in Super Bowl 38 and the game tied at 29, the Patriots faced a 3rd-and-3 at the Carolina Panthers’ 40-yard line. While an incompletion would not make the job for kicker Adam Vinatieri and impossible one, every yard gained on the play was huge. Tom Brady and Deion Branch delivered: Brady delivered a perfect 17-yard strike to set up a 41-yard attempt that eventually won the game for New England. That kick would obviously not have been that easy if not for the big pass play preceding it.

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1. Drawing Seattle offsides

After Malcolm Butler made arguably the biggest play in Super Bowl history — intercepting Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal line to preserve New England’s 28-24 lead with just 20 seconds remaining in the game — the Patriots offense took over the ball at its own 1-yard line. Somehow, the team needed to gain some breathing room if it wanted to end the game victoriously. A sneak or running play was a possibility, but New England did something else: taking advantage of Seattle’s aggressive defense. The Patriots took their time to snap the football, which in turn led to Seahawks defender Michael Bennett entering the neutral zone. 5-yard penalty against the defense, game Patriots.

Click here to watch the play.