PATRIOTS FOOTBALL HISTORY
Billy Sullivan Jr., a Boston businessman with a strong
sports promotional background, secured an American
Football League franchise on November 22, 1959. In
keeping with the New England heritage, the nickname
"Patriots" was selected by a panel of Boston
sportswriters in a contest to name the team. The Boston
team was involved in two significant "firsts"
in 1960. The Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills in
the first AFL pre-season game on July 30. On September
9, the Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos 13-10 in
the first-ever AFL regular-season game. New England
Patriots, professional football team and one of four
teams in the East Division of the American Football
Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL).
Formerly called the Boston Patriots, the team plays
its home games at Gillette Field in Foxboro, Massachusetts,
and wears uniforms of blue, red, silver, and white.
The team’s name was inspired by Boston’s
role in the American Revolution (1775-1783).
The Patriots fielded several strong teams during the
1970s and 1980s, reaching the playoffs five times
from 1976 to 1986. Star players during the period
included quarterback Tony Eason, tight end Russ Francis,
future Hall of Fame offensive guard John Hannah, cornerback
Mike Haynes, and linebacker Steve Nelson. Following
the 1985 season, the club played in the Super Bowl
but lost to the Chicago Bears. In the mid-1990s, New
England again became a powerhouse in the Eastern Division.
It won the 1996 AFC championship and then lost to
the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. The Patriots
finally triumphed in their third Super Bowl visit,
defeating the favored St. Louis Rams in 2002.
The Boston Patriots joined the American Football League
(AFL) as a charter member in 1960. In its second season
the team compiled a winning record. Eleven Patriots
played in the 1963 AFL All-Star Game as head coach
Mike Holovak steered Boston to a tie for the Eastern
Division title. The team boasted many stars, including
linebackers Tom Addison and Nick Buoniconti, wide
receiver—placekicker Gino Cappelletti, running
back Jim Nance, and quarterback Babe Parilli.
The Patriots struggled from 1964 to 1969, posting
winning records in only two of six seasons. In 1967
Nance received the league’s most valuable player
(MVP) award. The club joined the NFL in 1970, establishing
its home in Foxboro. Because the team played its games
outside of Boston, the franchise was renamed in 1971
as the New England Patriots to appeal to a greater
number of fans. The Patriots had a slow start in the
NFL, winning no more than seven games in a season
from 1970 to 1975.
New England made a remarkable turnaround in 1976,
finishing with an 11-3 win-loss record and earning
a wildcard berth to the playoffs under head coach
Chuck Fairbanks. The team starred Russ Francis, John
Hannah, Mike Haynes, and Steve Nelson. In 1978, led
by second-year quarterback Steve Grogan, the Patriots
won their first NFL Eastern Division crown. In the
early 1980s, however, New England again dropped to
the bottom of the division.
Coached by Raymond Berry, the Patriots made back-to-back
postseason appearances for the first time in franchise
history in 1985 and 1986. A wildcard team in 1985,
New England won three hard-fought AFC playoff games
to reach Super Bowl XX, where they lost to the Chicago
Bears, 46-10. In 1986 quarterback Tony Eason surpassed
the 3,000-yard mark for the second time, while wide
receiver Stanley Morgan led the AFC in yardage with
his third 1,000-yard season.
Cornerback Raymond Clayborn and linebacker Andre Tippett
starred defensively. New England, however, lost in
the divisional playoffs to the Denver Broncos, 22-17.
The Patriots floundered from 1987 to 1993, bottoming
out in 1990 with a 1-15 record. The team rebounded
in 1994 behind second-year quarterback Drew Bledsoe,
who led the NFL in passing yards. Former New York
Giants coach Bill Parcells coached the Patriots to
two more playoff appearances in 1995 and 1996. Powered
by Bledsoe and running back Curtis Martin, New England
captured the AFC championship in 1996 before losing
in the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots, 35-21.
After the loss, Parcells resigned and former San Francisco
49ers defensive coodinator Pete Carroll was hired
to replace him. Before the 2000 season, former Cleveland
Browns head coach Bill Belichick replaced Carroll.
Despite a 5-11 record in his first year, Belichick
built a contender that went 11-5 in 2001. The Patriots
then pulled off a series of postseason upsets, culminating
in a 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams in the
2002 Super Bowl. Quarterback Tom Brady, who replaced
Bledsoe early in the season, was named the game’s
most valuable player (MVP).
1986 Super Bowl XX Lost to Chicago Bears, 46-10
1997 Super Bowl XXXI Lost to Green Bay Packers, 35-21
2002 Super Bowl XXXVI Defeated St. Louis Rams, 20-17
2004 Super Bowl Defeated Carolina Panthers
2005 Super Bowl Defeated Philadelphia Eagles
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