2007 Patriots

So on ESPN.com they’re doing a series of the most compelling NFL teams in recent past and today they featured the 2007 Patriots.  As you all know, the 07 Patriots went through the regular season undefeated and won their first two playoff games and was 18-0 going into the super bowl, before losing to the Giants in one of the greatest upsets of all time Personally, I love when talking about that Patriots team because I still think that they were one of the greatest teams of all time, super bowl champion or not.

 The whole 2007 season began when the Patriots showed up for minicamp in June.  New England was just coming off a hard loss to the eventual super bowl champs Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game. Quarterback Tom Brady was fresh off a year when he excelled and almost led his team to a super bowl, with receivers like Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney. However, in the offseason, coach Bill Belichick went out and got Brady some weapons.  The Patriots acquired receivers Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth. 

The first game of the 2007 season was in New York against the Jets, who had made it to the playoffs the year before under former Patriots coordinator Eric Mangini.  Brady and the offense came out firing and eventually won the game 38-14, with Brady throwing for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns. However, the victory was overshadowed by the incident now called Spygate. Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft were fined a combined $750,000 for years of cheating, and so their overall record and the records they set seem tainted in the eyes of some fans.  However, hearing criticism from the whole country, the Patriots kept playing their game.

Five straight victories ensued after the Jets game, including a showdown in Dallas against the previously unbeaten Cowboys. The Patriots were 6-0 heading into Miami to play the winless Dolphins.  Brady exploded, throwing six touchdowns in the game, two to both Moss and Welker.  Brady had thrown 27 touchdowns in the first seven games.  The next game, the Patriots embarrassed the Redskins in New England, 52-7.  Belichick started to take heat for running up the score on opponents.  He didn’t care though, with the whole Spygate incident, the Patriots had to over-satisfy. 

The talk of the perfect season started soon after that, and for good reason.  Not only were the Patriots undefeated, they were blowing teams out.  They did almost suffer their first loss of the season on a Monday night in Baltimore, where Brady threw touchdown with under a minute to go to lift the Patriots to a 27-24 win. 

The Patriots played the Giants the last week of the season. With the Giants up 28-23 in the fourth quarter, Brady dropped back and threw deep to Moss.  Moss caught the pass for a touchdown. It was Brady’s 50th touchdown pass of the year, breaking Peyton Manning’s record, and Moss’ 23rd touchdown catch of the year, breaking Jerry Rice’s record. The Patriots never trailed again and won to go 16-0.  A perfect regular season, only the second team in NFL history to do so.  Only three wins stood in front of New England and complete perfection.

In the divisional round, the Patriots hosted the Jaguars, who had upset the Steelers the week before.  Brady completed 92 percent of his passes, going 26 for 28, an NFL record. New England won 31-20 and got ready to play the Chargers the next week. They were 17-0.

Against the Chargers, Brady injured his leg and threw three interceptions. But New England’s defense kept the Chargers out of the end zone to lead the Patriots to their fourth Super Bowl in six years. They were 18-0.  People said that they were barely hanging on, but not me.  I believed they were going to run the Giants right out of the stadium.

That day of the super bowl, I kind of got the feeling that what if the Giants won. The week before the game, during the bye week, I went to last event the Orange Bowl stadium would ever hold.  It was an autograph session and all of the old Hurricanes and Dolphins players were there.  The one thing I vividly remember is Mercury Morris, a member of the 72 Dolphins team, preaching to the thousands of fans that came out that day on how the Giants were going to win.  As kickoff came closer, I just thought that if the Patriots were to lose this game, it would be the greatest upset in NFL history.

Once the game started, you realized that the Patriots offense was not the same.  The offensive line played their worst game of the season and Brady was sacked five times.  The game was ruled by the defense as the Giants led by three in the final minutes.  However, Brady conducted a drive that ended with a Moss touchdown with just under three minutes to play that gave the Patriots a 14-10 lead.  I think that I was the only person in South Florida that wanted the Patriots to win and I was certain that the defense would hold the Giants and win the game.  I was wrong. A miraculous catch by David Tyree and a game winning touchdown by Plaxico Burress ended the perfect season.  Game over. Season over. 18-1.

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