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On February 3, 2002, the New England Patriots shock football fans everywhere by defeating the heavily favored St. Louis Rams, 20-17, to take home their first Super Bowl victory. Pats’ kicker Adam Vinatieri made a 48-yard field goal to win the game just as the clock expired.
Super Bowl XXXVI took place at the Superdome in New Orleans with a crowd of almost 73,000 in attendance. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America, the game was played amidst intense security and included a tribute to the 9/11 victims. Former President George H.W. Bush conducted the coin toss, the first president to ever do so in person. Mariah Carey sang the National Anthem and U2 performed during the halftime show.
The NFC champion Rams were coached by Mike Martz, who joined the team in 1999 as offensive coordinator and became head coach in 2000. The team’s offense—nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf”—was believed to be one of the best in football history. Kurt Warner, a two-time NFL MVP, quarterbacked the Rams, who had won their first Super Bowl in 2000. The American Football Conference champion Patriots were coached by Bill Belichick, who joined the team in 2000, the same year quarterback Tom Brady was drafted. Brady took over for Pats’ starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe after he was injured early in the 2001-2002 season, and Belichick made the decision to stay with the younger quarterback even after Bledsoe recovered, a call that initially met with controversy. (Bledsoe did play in the AFC Championship game, after Brady was forced to leave with an injury.)
Going into the Super Bowl on February 3, the Rams’ high-powered offense and Super Bowl experience combined to make them 14-point favorites. True to form, the Rams scored first, but by halftime, the underdog Patriots had stifled the Rams offense, and capitalized on two St. Louis turnovers to pull ahead, 14-3.
The Pats converted another Rams turnover into a 17-3 lead in the third quarter before the Rams finally seemed to come alive. Warner ran in a touchdown and then connected with wide receiver Ricky Proehl with just one minute, 30 seconds remaining to tie the score. In the end, though, it proved too little, too late: Brady deftly led the Pats on a 53-yard drive and into field goal range, and with seven seconds left on the clock, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal to give the Pats the victory, 20-17. It was the first time a Super Bowl had ever been won with a team scoring as the game clock expired. (Colts kicker Jim O'Brien kicked a game-winner in Super Bowl V, but there were five seconds left in the game.)
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots are a professional American football team based in the Greater Boston area. They compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The team plays its home games at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, which is 22 miles (35 km)  southwest of downtown Boston.
- The Pats
- Super Bowl championships (6)
2001 (XXXVI), 2003 (XXXVIII), 2004 (XXXIX), 2014 (XLIX), 2016 (LI), 2018 (LIII)
- AFC:1985, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
- AFL East:1963
- AFC East:1978, 1986, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
- NFL:1976, 1978, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
- (1960–1962) (1963–1968) (1969) (1970) (1971–2001)
- Gillette Stadium (2002–present)
Founded in 1959 as the Boston Patriots, the team was a charter member of the American Football League (AFL) before joining the NFL in 1970 through the AFL–NFL merger. The Patriots played their home games at various stadiums throughout Boston until the franchise moved to Foxborough in 1971. As part of the move, the team changed its name to the New England Patriots. Home games in Foxboro were played at Foxboro Stadium from 1971 through 2002 when the stadium was demolished in conjunction with the opening of Gillette Stadium. The team began utilizing Gillette Stadium for home games the same year.
The Patriots hold the records for most Super Bowl wins (6, tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers), appearances (11), and losses (5, tied with the Denver Broncos). Generally unsuccessful prior to the 21st century, the team enjoyed a period of dominance under head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady from 2001 to 2019. The Brady–Belichick era, regarded as one of sports' greatest dynasties, would see the Patriots claim nearly every major Super Bowl record. Other NFL records held by the franchise include the most wins in a ten-year period (126 from 2003 to 2012), the most playoff wins (37), the longest winning streak of regular-season and playoff games (21 from October 2003 to October 2004), the most consecutive winning seasons (19 from 2001 to 2019), the most consecutive division titles (11 from 2009 to 2019), the only undefeated 16-game regular season (2007), and the highest postseason winning percentage (.638).
New England Patriots win first Super Bowl - HISTORY
The New England Patriots have played a total of 55 seasons. Their first season was in 1966, and their most recent season was in 2020.
Have the New England Patriots gone by any other names?
Yes. Between 1966 and 1970, the team was known as the Boston Patriots.
In 1971, the team changed their name to the New England Patriots.
When was the last time the Patriots were in the playoffs?
The New England Patriots last made the playoffs in 2019, when they lost the Wild Card Round. They've been in the playoffs a total of 26 times in their 55 seasons.
When was the last time the Patriots missed the playoffs?
The New England Patriots last missed the playoffs in 2020.
When was the last time the Patriots won a playoff game?
In 2018, the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl.
When was the last time the Patriots lost a playoff game?
In 2019, the New England Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans in the Wild Card Round.
How many Super Bowls have the Patriots won?
The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl 6 times, in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
Philadelphia Eagles Beat New England Patriots For First Super Bowl Win
MINNEAPOLIS – In the wildest shootout in Super Bowl history, unheralded Nick Foles outdueled legendary Tom Brady to lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl title, defeating the New England Patriots, 41-33.
Foles went 28 for 43 for 373 yards and three touchdowns, including leading a come-from-behind, game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. A back-up most of the season to Carson Wentz, Foles was particularly brilliant when it mattered the most, on third and fourth downs in clutch situations. He even caught a touchdown pass at the end of the first half.
New England somehow lost despite never punting or turning the ball over. Brady, seeking his sixth championship, broke his own Super Bowl record for most passing yards with 505. He went 28-for-48 and tossed XX touchdowns.
It was Foles who was the champion and Super Bowl MVP though.
Trailing for the first time in the game, 33-32 with 9:26, Foles led the Philly offense on a legendary game-winning drive. It included converting twice on third down and once on fourth down, often by the smallest of margins. It ended with a six-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Zach Ertz, who leapt across the goal line.
Ertz lost the ball on contact with the field just after he crossed the goalline. Replay ruled it a catch, determining he had made a football move and became a runner therefore the play was dead when the ball crossed the plane of the end zone.
In the third quarter, Foles hit running back Corey Clement on a 22-yard dime into double coverage. The running back initially controlled the ball, bobbled it a bit and then appeared to fail to get both feet in the end zone. Initially ruled a touchdown, it was upheld on a controversial replay review and brought one of the NFL’s most tired storylines – what’s a catch – to the Super Bowl.
After the Ertz score gave Philly the lead, Brady got the ball back with 2:21 remaining in the game, spurring thoughts of another dramatic Patriots comeback.
Not this time, though. The Eagles defense stepped up when Brandon Graham strip-sacked Brady, causing a fumble that was recovered by the Eagles. Philly kicked a field goal to extend the lead to eight.
With 1:05 remaining, Brady then attempted to drive New England again for a touchdown and two-point conversion but couldn’t do it.
It was the first sign of life by the Philly defense. New England, to that point, had neither punted, had a turnover or allowed a sack.
That’s the Eagles though, opportunistic, confident and more than capable of standing up to the NFL’s biggest bully and punching back.
The game was an offensive classic, setting multiple Super Bowl records, including most yards gained before the start of the fourth quarter.
The Eagles led 22-12 after a wild, entertaining first half that saw a little bit of everything.
There was 683 total yards. A brilliant 37-yard Foles-to-Jeffrey touchdown pass. A 46-yard Rex Burkhead catch and rumble.
Tom Brady dropping a pass from Danny Amendola that hit him directly in the hands. Foles catching one for a touchdown on a daring fake-audible, wildcat snap, reverse, throw-back to the QB.
Each team missed an extra point. Philly failed on a two-point conversion. New England had a bad snap cost them a field goal. Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks was knocked out of the game on a violent hit.
There were gadget plays and huge gains galore.
Corey Clement had a 53 yard catch and run for the Eagles. LeGarrette Blount rumbled for 36 and added a touchdown. New England saw Danny Amendola haul one in for 50 and Chris Hogan for 43. James White scored on a 26-yard run.
The pregame festivities were mostly eventless. All players stood for the national anthem, as they have for the entire playoffs in a movement that had mostly faded away this season until it was rekindled by president Donald Trump in week three.
Pink sang it well after taking out a throat lozenge just before performing.
Tom Brady No. 2 Moment: Leads Patriots To First Super Bowl Title In Franchise History
After two decades, Tom Brady?s run with the Patriots has come to an end. But even though he?s now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it doesn?t take away from the heaps of memories he created with New England.
Each day over the next few weeks, we?ll look back on one of Brady?s best moments, counting down from No. 20 to No. 1. Now, let&rsquos relive his No. 2 Moment: Leading the Patriots to their first Super Bowl win in franchise history with an improbable victory over the St. Louis Rams (2001).
Super Bowl XXXVI is where the greatness of Tom Brady was recognized by the entire NFL.
The underdog New England Patriots took on &ldquoThe Greatest Show on Turf&rdquo &mdash the St. Louis Rams &mdash and pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in league history.
The Patriots scored two touchdowns in the second quarter &mdash one on a Ty Law pick-six, and the other on a Brady touchdown pass to David Patten to make it 14-3 going into halftime. They&rsquod add a field goal in the third quarter to increase their lead to 17-3.
The Rams, led by Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk, came storming back with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to tie the score with 1:30 to go. Many expected Brady and the Patriots to take a knee and head to overtime knotted at 17. But Brady instead led a signature drive as the Rams gave him room to do so.
Aaron Donald is the highest paid defensive player in the NFL
The Rams' defensive end, Aaron Donald, is the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL and is among the top-10 highest-paid players in the NFL. His 2018 salary of $40.9 million (€35.6 million) places him just behind quarterbacks like the Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers, whose 2018 salary was $66.9 million.
10 things to know about Super Bowl 53
Share All sharing options for: New England Patriots Super Bowl History: Super Bowl XX
The Patriots were buried by the Bears in Super Bowl XX. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
With Super Bowl XLIX on the horizon, we take the time to look back at the New England Patriots' past seven Super Bowls. Today, we kick things off with the Patriots' first appearance on the game's biggest stage – Super Bowl XX.
Prior to the 1985 NFL Season, the New England Patriots have never won a playoff game in the Super Bowl era. The last time the team won a postseason game in any league was the AFL's Divisional Game against the Buffalo Bills in January 1964. The Patriots won 26-8. Lyndon B. Johnson was President of the United States the Beatles have not yet played a show on American soil.
Fast forward 21 years. It was the first full season of Raymond Berry's head coaching career and his team, after starting their 1985 campaign 2-3, entered the playoffs as an 11-5 wild card team. If the Patriots wanted to advance to the Super Bowl, they had to do so without playing a single game in Foxboro's Sullivan Stadium. And advancing to the Super Bowl they did, becoming the first team in league history to reach the title game without having hosted a playoff contest.
The team that has not won a playoff game in the Super Bowl era would have to square off against a team that has not allowed a single point in its two 1985 postseason games: the Chicago Bears.
Super Bowl XX: New England Patriots vs. Chicago Bears – Game Synopsis
Date: January 26, 1986
Stadium: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans LA
New England Patriots 10
Chicago Bears 46
Super Bowl XX started well for the Patriots. On the Bears' second offensive play, star running back Walter Payton fumbled the ball and the Patriots' Larry McGrew recovered. After three incomplete Tony Eason passes, Tony Franklin kicked a 36-yard field goal to give New England a 3-0 lead (at the time the fastest score in Super Bowl history).
The game, however, would only go downhill from that point on – at least from the Patriots' perspective. Before the first quarter ended, the team surrendered two field goals and a touchdown, while turning the ball over twice (one fumble apiece by Eason and running back Craig James). The Patriots ended the quarter with -19 yards of offense the first positive play being a 3-yard run by James with 12 seconds left in the quarter.
The Bears would score another touchdown early in the second period to extend their lead to 17 points (20-3). Midway through the quarter, Berry benched Eason, who went 0-for-6 and was sacked three times, and inserted veteran Steve Grogan. At that point, the Patriots had amassed -36 yards of offense.
After halftime, which the Patriots entered down 3-23, things continued the way the were in the first two quarters. The team continued to struggle on offense and was unable to stop the Bears on defense. New England gave up three more touchdowns – among them a 28-yard interception return and William "Refrigerator" Perry's famous 1-yard touchdown run – and was down 44-3 before scoring on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Grogan to wide receiver Irving Fryar early in the fourth quarter.
The final points of Super Bowl XX were – surprise, surprise – scored by the Bears. This time, however, it was the defense which recorded a safety after Grogan was sacked in the endzone it was the fourth time Grogan was sacked that day.
The Patriots were out-gained 123 to 408 in their first Super Bowl appearance, turned the ball over six times and surrendered seven sacks. The Bears' 46-10 win was the most lopsided Super Bowl to that point (and was since surpassed by the San Francisco 49ers' 55-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in 1989)
The Patriots' 1985 season may have ended in defeat, but it was still a success. Before the season, few people believed that New England would be capable of reaching the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl. The team came up short on the game's biggest stage, but put itself on the map – at least temporarily.
Philadelphia Eagles Win First Super Bowl, Defeating New England Patriots 41-33
Philadelphia Eagles' Nick Foles celebrates with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday.
MINNEAPOLIS—The Eagles had every reason not to win, or even reach, Super Bowl LII. They lost their star quarterback over a month ago. They were an underdog in every playoff game. Then they had to play the Patriots.
But absolutely nothing about this Super Bowl was reasonable. The elite defenses didn’t show up. The kicking was historically awful. The quarterbacks became wide receivers. The Patriots made a comeback—and then lost.
In a nutty barnburner that gave everything football has to offer—offensive fireworks, forehead-smacking miscues, trick plays, a gruesome injury and a debate about the NFL’s most arcane rule—the Philadelphia Eagles withstood a trademark New England rally to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history, beating the New England Patriots 41-33 here at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Throughout most of this, the Eagles led, but the crux of this Super Bowl began in earnest with them losing and holding the ball. They trailed by one, 33-32. There was 2:21 left on the clock. This was the moment the NFL’s nightmare became reality because its most impenetrable rule entered the limelight in the waning moments of the biggest game of the year.
That’s when Nick Foles hit tight end Zach Ertz for an 11-yard touchdown pass. That’s how it was ruled on the field, at least. But as Ertz leapt for the end zone, the ball came loose it hit the ground when he landed. It appeared to be the exact call that caused an uproar earlier this season. That time, after it was reviewed, it was ruled incomplete, favoring New England and sending Pittsburgh fans into a tizzy.
New England Patriots
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New England Patriots, American professional gridiron football team based in Foxborough, Massachusetts, that plays in the National Football League (NFL). The Patriots have won six Super Bowl titles (2002, 2004, 2005, 2015, 2017, and 2019) and 11 American Football Conference (AFC) championships.
The franchise joined the American Football League (AFL) in 1960 as the Boston Patriots and quickly fielded a competitive team that featured quarterback Vito (“Babe”) Parilli, linebacker Nick Buoniconti, and wide receiver Gino Cappelletti. The Patriots posted a winning record in their second season and advanced to the AFL championship game in their fourth. However, after a second place divisional finish in 1966, the team recorded seven consecutive losing seasons. The Patriots also struggled to find a permanent home stadium, playing at four different Boston-area locations in 10 years. In 1971 the team—a member of the NFL following the 1970 AFL-NFL merger—relocated to Foxborough and was renamed the New England Patriots.
Led by John Hannah, considered one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history, future Hall of Fame cornerback Mike Haynes, and quarterback Steve Grogan, the Patriots experienced sporadic success in the 1970s and ’80s. They advanced to their first Super Bowl in 1986 but lost to a dominant Chicago Bears team, 46–10. Eleven years would pass before the Patriots would return to the Super Bowl, this time under the direction of coach Bill Parcells and led by quarterback Drew Bledsoe. New England lost Super Bowl XXXI to the Green Bay Packers, but their postseason appearance marked the beginning of three straight years of playoff football for the team, then a franchise record.
The Patriots made one of the most significant moves in franchise history with the hiring of Bill Belichick as head coach in 2000. A noted defensive assistant coach through most of his career (he also had a stint as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, 1991–95), Belichick quickly built a powerful team around unheralded veteran free agents (such as linebacker Mike Vrabel and running back Corey Dillon) and savvy draft picks (including linebacker Tedy Bruschi and cornerback Ty Law). In 2001 a serious injury to Bledsoe paved the way for Tom Brady, a relatively unknown sixth-round draft choice, to take over the Patriots’ offense and lead the team to a surprising Super Bowl win the following February. Brady would become an elite passer and guide the Patriots to four more Super Bowl victories—in 2004, 2005, 2015, and 2017.
New England traded for All-Pro wide receiver Randy Moss before the 2007 season and went on to shatter numerous offensive records and post the only 16–0 regular-season record in NFL history, only to lose to the underdog New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. Moss was traded away during the 2010 season, but the Patriots remained one of the highest-scoring teams in the NFL behind an efficient passing attack led by Brady, wide receiver Wes Welker, and versatile tight end Rob Gronkowski. New England posted the AFC’s best record in both 2010 and 2011, and the team advanced to a Super Bowl rematch with the Giants following the 2011 campaign, which it again lost.
The team continued its predominantly stellar play well into a second decade as it finished each of the following two seasons with a 12–4 record and an appearance in the AFC championship game (both of which ended in New England losses). In 2014 the Patriots again won 12 games and posted the best record in the AFC en route to winning a conference championship and qualifying for the sixth Super Bowl of the Brady-Belichick era. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl, beating the Seattle Seahawks. In 2015 the Patriots won their 12th division title in 13 years and advanced to the AFC championship game, a loss to the Denver Broncos. The following year, New England went an NFL-best 14–2 and cruised through the postseason en route to another AFC championship. In the Super Bowl, the Patriots overcame a 25-point third-quarter deficit to the Atlanta Falcons in overtime—the largest comeback in Super Bowl history—to win a fifth championship.
In 2017 the Patriots went 13–3 to win another division title en route to an NFL-record 10th Super Bowl appearance for the franchise. There the team lost a close contest to the Philadelphia Eagles, which gave New England five Super Bowl losses, the most in league history. The Patriots juggernaut continued its dominance in 2018, easily winning another division title and earning the second seed in the AFC playoffs. After a convincing victory in the divisional round, the Patriots won a roller-coaster AFC championship game over the Kansas City Chiefs to qualify for a third straight Super Bowl. In that game, the lowest-scoring in Super Bowl history, New England defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 13–3, to claim their sixth title, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers for most Super Bowl wins. In 2019 the Patriots extended their NFL-record streak of consecutive division championships with their 11th straight AFC East title, but the team failed to earn a first-round postseason bye for the first time in 10 years, and New England lost its opening playoff game.
New England Patriots week 1 history after a Super Bowl win
With five Super Bowl wins, the New England Patriots are no strangers to week 1 primetime games. This season they’ll take on the Kansas City Chiefs on September 7th as their Super Bowl LI banner is revealed.
So far, the Patriots are perfect in post-Super Bowl win games the following season. New England players, coaches, and fans will all hope that trend continues in 2017.
Following their Super Bowl 36 victory over the heavily favored St. Louis Rams and the greatest show on turf, the Patriots opened their 2002 season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While these games now are usually played on Thursday nights ahead of the rest of the league, New England was actually one of the last teams to play that week with a Monday night game.
The game remained close at halftime as New England had just a 10-7 lead. A 17-point 3rd quarter helped the Patriots run away with this one though. They ended up winning 30-14 over Pittsburgh. Christian Fauria, Donald Hayes, and Deion Branch all had a touchdown catch from a young Tom Brady, while Super Bowl hero Adam Vinatieri knocked in 3 field goals.
In 2004, the Patriots were coming off of their second Super Bowl win in three years. They had taken down the Carolina Panthers, and they were facing their rival Indianapolis Colts on a Thursday night.
This game was a fun one to watch, and it was extremely close. The 1st quarter was a grind and the only points came off of a Vinatieri field goal. In the 2nd quarter, Both teams got going a bit. The Colts began with a field goal and then a TD run from Dominic Rhodes. New England then came back to knot the game up at 10 with a 16-yard pass from Brady to Branch. Peyton Manning came back with a score of his own though, a short 3-yard pass to Marvin Harrison. Vinatieri added a field goal as the half ended to trim the Indy lead to 17-13.
The 3rd quarter belonged to the New England Patriots. They shut down Peyton Manning and the Colts while adding two touchdowns of their own to take the lead. David Patten and Daniel Graham both caught passes from Tom Brady for the scores. In the 4th, Indianapolis made it close with another Manning touchdown pass, but they fell short as New England won 27-24. The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl over the Philadelphia Eagles, setting up another primetime week 1 game.
More from Chowder and Champions
New England had become a dynasty with their third Super Bowl in 4 years. Now, the team that you could argue it had all started against in the Tuck Rule game was heading into Foxboro. Tom Brady and Corey Dillon were there to dominate the Oakland Raiders. Brady finished the night with 306 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Dillon 63 yards on the ground with 2 touchdowns of his own. He also added 30 receiving yards. Jarvis Green and Mike Vrabel each had a sack for the Patriots defense as New England won easily, 30-20.
After a long (10 season) Super Bowl drought with two devastating losses to the New York Giants, New England finally won a Super Bowl again in 2014. To open the year, Pittsburgh once again paid a visit to Foxboro. These teams battled it out, but the final score looks closer than the game actually was.
Both teams were held scoreless in the 1st quarter, but Rob Gronkowski took over in the 2nd. He hauled in 2 Tom Brady touchdown passes of 16 and 6 yards to take a 14-0 lead. Pittsburgh added a lone field goal to make it 14-3 at the half. Another Patriots TE got in on the action in the second half as Scott Chandler added another New England touchdown. A Pittsburgh touchdown, two-point conversion, and field goal made it 21-14 New England. Then, guess what? Gronk scored again. This time it was a 1-yard catch on the goal line. The Steelers added an Antonio Brown touchdown with 0:02 left to play, but it was too late as New England won 28-21.
History has the Patriots pointing in the right direction to begin the 2017 season, even if they’ll have to do so without Julian Edelman. New England will face the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday, September 7th at Gillette Stadium. A 1-0 start is certainly what we’re all looking for to begin the new season.
Share All sharing options for: A look back at the Panthers' first Super Bowl appearance
Before the 2015 season, the Carolina Panthers made just one Super Bowl appearance in their history. That came in Super Bowl XXXVIII against the New England Patriots on Feb. 1, 2004, a game that was memorable both on and off the field.
For most fans, the actual game was overshadowed by the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" incident at the halftime show, but this ended up being one of the better Super Bowls of the decade. Thrilling action, legendary stars in the middle of their primes, the outcome still in doubt late in the fourth quarter -- this game had it all.
In 2003, the Panthers were less than a decade old, established as part of the 1995 expansion. But they were still struggling for national relevance. They made the NFC Championship in their second season, but until 2003 that was their only playoff appearance. Things hit rock bottom with a 1-15 season in 2001.
Enter John Fox. Replacing George Seifert as the head coach, Fox quickly turned things around, getting a 7-9 record in 2002 and turning Jake Delhomme into a viable franchise quarterback. The wide receiver corps showed plenty of promise -- Steve Smith was in the middle of his evolution from pure special-teamer to one of his generation's most dangerous receivers, while Muhsin Muhammad was a steady veteran presence. Carolina used the 2002 No. 2 draft pick on Julius Peppers, who would anchor the defense for years.
The pieces all came together in 2003, when the Panthers earned an 11-5 record and NFC South title. They went on to beat the Dallas Cowboys, St. Louis Rams and Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs.
The Patriots were just starting to figure out how good they could be. Sure, Tom Brady had already been a Super Bowl MVP, but at this point he wasn't quite the Touchdown Tom everyone remembers today. They won their Super Bowl in the 2001 season, but went 9-7 and missed the playoffs the next year. Was that Super Bowl win a fluke, a one-time historic upset? Or were Brady, Bill Belichick and company a dynasty waiting to happen?
They answered that question pretty emphatically in the regular season, going 14-2 and steamrolling the AFC East (that would be a running theme for the rest of the decade). The defense was possibly the best in the league, with Ty Law, Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison, Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi all in the middle of their primes. Brady had an average year by his standards, but he didn't have to do too much with the defense balling.
The Patriots squeezed by the Tennessee Titans and then took down longtime nemesis Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship. That game, a 24-14 win for New England, is generally considered one of the best playoff games of the 2000s.
Super Bowl XXXVIII was a matchup of two defensive-minded teams that were really good at not letting opposing offenses do things. The first quarter ended scoreless. There wasn't even any scoring in the first 12 minutes of the second quarter. But then a funny thing happened -- Brady drew first blood with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Deion Branch, Delhomme fired back with a 39-yard score to Smith, and on the next drive, Brady hooked up with David Givens. The Panthers got the ball for the last time of the half and John Kasay hit a 50-yard field goal.
Just like that, it was 14-10 Patriots and we all went into the halftime show with good vibes.
After that flurry of scoring at the end of the first half, it was business as usual in the third quarter, with neither team scoring. All hell broke loose in the final frame. After Brady engineered a 10-play drive that started at his own 29-yard line, he handed the ball to Antowain Smith, who punched it into the end zone from 2 yards away. That gave New England the 21-10 lead and the game threatened to get out of hand late.
But Delhomme started his comeback. After hitting Smith with two big passes on the next drive, DeShaun Foster broke off a 33-yard touchdown run. Brady threw an interception on his next drive and Carolina took advantage quickly -- Delhomme hit Muhammad, who made the play of his life, sprinting 85 yards down the sidelines into the end zone. With 7:06 left, the Panthers had their first lead of the game, but they missed the two-point conversion.
Brady had yet another one of his patented "Touchdown Tom" playoff drives, marching 68 yards on the Patriots' ensuing drive and hitting linebacker Mike Vrabel (this was one of Belichick's favorite gimmick plays back in the day) in the end zone.
Two-point conversion good. Pats up, 29-22. 2:55 to go in the game. This was the kind of Super Bowl drama network executives dream of.
Delhomme took over at his own 20 and after a couple of handoffs to Foster, he hit Ricky Proehl for a 31-yard gain, setting up Carolina in New England territory. Three plays later, Delhomme found Proehl again, this time for a touchdown. With the extra point good, we had a tie game with 1:13 left. Would this be the first Super Bowl to go into overtime?
Unfortunately, Panthers fans reading this already know what's coming next. John Kasay, one of the best kickers of his generation, made the biggest mistake of his career, shanking the ensuing kickoff out of bounds and setting up the Patriots at their 40-yard line -- with all three timeouts, no less. Brady needed just five plays and 37 yards to set up Adam Vinatieri for the game-winning kick.
In retrospect, this game undoubtedly holds up as a modern-day classic. Big moments, big personalities, great players making great plays -- that's about all you can ask for from a Super Bowl.
The Patriots won another Super Bowl the following season, solidifying their dynasty. They continued to be major players for the next two decades, making the big game three more times and winning a fourth title in the 2014 season. Brady and Belichick are still around, terrorizing the AFC on an annual basis.
However, the Panthers took a step back after coming oh-so-close, going 7-9 the next season. They went on something of a yo-yo run over the next few years, making the NFC Championship in 2005 but posting losing records the following two years. The Fox era finally ended in 2010, when Carolina went 2-14 and had pretty much no choice to fire him. Most players from that Super Bowl team have retired, although Peppers and Smith are still playing, both of them likely future Hall of Famers.
With Fox gone and the No. 1 overall pick in their hands, this set the stage for the Ron Rivera/Cam Newton era that would define the Panthers in the 2010s, culminating in a 15-1 2015 season and their second Super Bowl appearance. If their first game was any indication, this matchup with the Denver Broncos promises to be another thrilling clash.