By Brendon Rosenau, Patriots Daily Staff
While a Super Bowl XXXVI victory proved to loyal fans that the Pats were now a legitimate team, the feeling on a national level was that the Pats were the beneficiaries of circumstance. A team of destiny that had everything go right.
Well, 2003 changed all of that. In 2003 the Patriots began a historic two-year run that saw them go 34-4, win two more Super Bowls and establish themselves as one of football’s dynasties. Just like 2001, the 2003 season is loaded with memories and memorable games.
Who can forget the shockwaves days before the season started when Pro Bowler Lawyer Milloy was cut by the Patriots? Then he signed with Buffalo and the Bledsoe-led Bills throttled the Pats 31-0 in the opening week. That of course led to the infamous “They hate their coach,” line from ESPN’s Tom Jackson.
N.E. started the year 2-2 before Bethel Johnson and Mike Cloud led the Pats to a 38-30 win over Tennessee to start a 21-game win streak. The game was clinched when Ty Law returned an interception for a touchdown.
There was the safety game against Denver, a shutout of Dallas and a memorable win over Miami where Tedy Bruschi and the fans celebrated his pick-six by throwing snow. All of those, though, fail in comparison to the Week 13 battle with Indy. Both teams entered the game 9-2 and N.E. jumped out to a 31-10 lead after Cloud’s second TD of the game. However, Tom Brady threw a pair of INT’s and the Colts scored three straight touchdowns to tie the game. Deion Branch scored the go-ahead score and New England staged a memorable goal line stand that was punctuated by Willie McGinest’s game-saving tackle of Edgerrin James on fourth down.
In the playoffs, the Pats defeated the Co-MVP’s (Steve McNair and Peyton Manning) to advance to the Super Bowl. They beat the Titans in one of the coldest playoff games in NFL history, and then in the AFC title game Ty Law owned Manning, who threw four picks. The Super Bowl was a classic with Adam Vinatieri hitting another championship field goal, this time with four seconds left, to grab the second Super Bowl ring in three years.
What are your favorite moments? What do you remember most from that year? How about Mike Vrabel’s Super Bowl touchdown? Or the blocked field goal against the Texans to go to overtime?
Tom Brady 60.2%, 3620 yards (6th NFL), 23 TD (10th), 85.9 rating (10th)
Antowain Smith 642 yards rushing, 3 TD
Kevin Faulk 1078 yards from scrimmage
Mike Cloud 5 rushing TD
Deion Branch 57 catches, 803 yards, 3TD
David Givens 34 catches, 510 yards, 6 TD
Rodney Harrison 94 solo tackles
Mike Vrabel 9.5 sacks
Ty Law 6 INT (T-7th), 23 PD
Tyrone Poole 6 INT (T-7th)
Tedy Bruschi 2 INT for TD (T-1st)
Richard Seymour (RDT), Tedy Bruschi (MLB), Ty Law (LCB), Rodney Harrison (SS)
Seymour, Willie McGinest (RDE), Law,