Since the arrival of current head coach Bill Belichick in 2000, the Patriots became one of the most successful teams in NFL history. They are third in appearances in a Super Bowl with seven (the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys each have 8), and have the most appearances in the last 25 years. They have won all but two AFC East titles since 2001, and have not had a losing season since 2000. Before Belichick arrived, the Patriots had only notched consecutive playoff appearances twice in their history. Between 2001–2010, the Patriots set a record for most wins in a decade (121, different from conventionally bounded decades, 2000–2009, 1990–1999, etc.; this record references any ten-year stretch; 2nd is the 1984–1993 San Francisco 49ers, with 120 wins); they broke their own record in 2011 (2002–2011 – 123 wins), and again in 2012 (2003–2012 – 126 wins – nearly 13 regular season wins per season). Between 2001 and 2005, the Patriots became the second team in NFL history (after the Dallas Cowboys) to win three Super Bowls in four years (Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX), and the eighth (and most recent) to win consecutive Super Bowls. The Patriots, however, were defeated by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, after winning the first 18 games of their 2007 season. They were defeated again by the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. During Belichick's tenure with the team along with quarterbackTom Brady, the Patriots have also compiled the longest winning streak consisting of regular season and playoff games in NFL history, a 21-game streak from October 2003 – October 2004. The Patriots contest one of the most bitter rivalries in the NFL, with the New York Jets.
Patriot fans rally in front of Boston City Hall following the Super Bowl XXXVIII championship
On November 16, 1959, Boston business executive Billy Sullivan was awarded the eighth and final franchise of the developing American Football League (AFL). The following winter, locals were allowed to submit ideas for the Boston football team's official name. The most popular choice—and the one that Sullivan selected—was "Boston Patriots". Immediately thereafter, The Boston Globe artist Phil Bissell developed the "Pat Patriot" logo.
When the NFL and AFL merged in 1970, the Patriots were placed in the AFC East division, where they still play today. The following year, the Patriots moved to a new stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, which would serve as their home for 30 years. As a result of the move, they announced they would change their name from the Boston Patriots to the Bay State Patriots. The name was rejected by the NFL and on March 23, 1971, the team officially announced they would become the New England Patriots.
During the 1970s, the Patriots had some success, earning a berth to the playoffs in 1976—as a wild card-team—and in 1978—as AFC East champions. They lost in the first round both times. In 1985, they returned to the playoffs, and made it all the way to Super Bowl XX, which they lost to the Chicago Bears 46–10. Following their Super Bowl loss, they returned to the playoffs in 1986, but lost in the first round. The team would not make the playoffs again for eight more years. During the 1990 season, the Patriots went 1–15. They changed ownership three times, being purchased from the Sullivan family first by Victor Kiam in 1988, who sold the team to James Orthwein in 1992. Orthwein intended to move the team to his native St. Louis, Missouri, but sold the team two years later to current owner Robert Kraft in 1994.
Though Orthwein's period as owner was short and controversial, he did oversee major changes to the team, first with the hiring of former New York Giants coach Bill Parcells in 1993. Also a change was made that same year to the Patriots uniforms, changing their primary colors from their traditional red and white to blue and silver, and introducing a new logo. Parcells would bring the Patriots to two playoff appearances, including Super Bowl XXXI, which they lost to the Green Bay Packers by a score of 35–21. Pete Carroll, Parcells's successor, would also take the team to the playoffs twice in 1997 & 1998 before being dismissed as head coach after the 1999 season.
The Patriots' current coach Bill Belichick was hired in 2000, and a new home field, Gillette Stadium was opened in 2002. Under Belichick, the team won three Super Bowls in four years, and finished the 2007 regular season with a perfect 16–0 record, becoming only the fourth team in league history to go undefeated in the regular season, and the only one since the league expanded its regular season schedule to 16 games. After advancing to Super Bowl XLII, the team's fourth Super Bowl in seven years, the Patriots were defeated by the Giants to end their bid for a 19–0 season. With the loss, the Patriots ended the year at 18–1, becoming only one of three teams to go 18–1 along with the 1984 San Francisco 49ers and the 1985 Chicago Bears.
In terms of number of games played, the Patriots have competed most against teams either currently or formerly from the AFC East division. This includes the current teams, the New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins, and the Buffalo Bills, as well as former divisional opponents the Colts. Among those, however, a few run deeper than others.
Pats Head Coach Bill Belichick was "traded" from the Jets to the Patriots in 2000
The closest geographically has been the rivalry with the New York Jets. The Patriots and Jets have been in the same division (what is now the AFC East) since both teams' foundings in 1960, and have played each other at least twice a year since then. The rivalry between the Jets and Patriots has escalated since 1996, when Patriots head coach Bill Parcells left the Patriots under controversy to become the head coach of the Jets; he was replaced by former Jets coach Pete Carroll. Four years later Carroll was fired, and Parcells' assistant, Bill Belichick, resigned the day he was named the Jets' head coach to become the head coach of the Patriots. Six years after that, Eric Mangini, an assistant under Belichick, became the head coach of the Jets.
Bill Belichick achieved his 200th career head coaching win (regular season and playoffs) on November 23, 2012, defeating the Jets 49–19; it was his 163rd such win as Patriots coach.
The Patriots rivalry with the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts ran through the two clubs' tenure together in the AFC East (1970–2001). The two clubs clashed in several close games, such as on December 19, 1971 as a late Patriots touchdown decided a 21–17 New England win; on September 18, 1978 the Colts rallied to defeat the Patriots 34–27 on Monday Night Football on a virtual one-man scoring rampage by running back Joe Washington; on September 4, 1983 the Colts defeated the Patriots in overtime 29–23 in their final season in Baltimore. The Patriots defeated the Colts in back-to-back overtime games, 23–17 on December 8, 1991, and 37–34 on November 15, 1992.
The Pats facing the Colts in 2011
Even though the two clubs were placed in separate divisions in the NFL's 2002 divisional realignment, their rivalry did not diminish. Indeed, it could be claimed that it intensified since that time as both teams were among the best in the AFC, and both were led by likely Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Peyton Manning (for the Colts) and Tom Brady (for the Patriots) The teams met three times in four years (2003, 2004, 2006) in the playoffs, with the winner going on to win that season's Super Bowl each time. The Manning portion of the rivalry began in Manning's rookie season, 1998; in 1999 Manning suffered a bitter 31–28 loss in September as the Patriots behind Drew Bledsoe erased a 28–7 Colts lead, then defeated the Patriots 20–15 in Indianapolis on December 12. The Brady-Manning portion of the rivalry began on September 30, 2001 as Brady made his first NFL start in a 44–13 Patriots win at Foxboro; on October 21 the Patriots defeated the Colts at the RCA Dome 38–17.
After the Colts left the AFC East in 2002, they first met on November 30, 2003 in a 38–34 Patriots win decided on a last-second goal line stand by the Patriots. The Colts broke a six-game Patriot winning streak in the rivalry in November 2005, then won twice in 2006; in the AFC Championship Game the Colts erased a 21–6 halftime lead; the game lead tied or changed seven times in the second half before a late touchdown led to a 38–34 Colts win. The November 4, 2007 meeting involved both teams being unbeaten to that point; the 8–0 Patriots and the 7–0 Colts. The Patriots rallied to win 24–20. The Colts won again in 2008 and then erased a large Patriots lead in 2009's 4th and 2 game. Manning's final meeting with the Patriots as a Colt came in November 2010; a late interception sealed a 31–28 Patriots win. In 2012, the Patriots faced the Colts, quarterbacked now by Andrew Luck, on November 18; the Patriots defeated the Colts 59–24. The Patriots also beat the Colts on January 12, 2014 43-22.
The Ravens first met the New England Patriots in 1996, but the rivalry truly started in 2007 when the Ravens suffered a bitter 27–24 loss in the Patriots quest for perfection. The rivalry began to escalate in 2009 when the Ravens lost to the Patriots 27–21 in a game that involved a confrontation between Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. Both players would go on to take verbal shots at each other through the media after the game. The Ravens defeated the Patriots in the 2009 AFC Wild Card playoff game 33–14. This was the first time the Ravens had ever defeated the Patriots. The Ravens faced the Patriots in Week 6 of the 2010 season; the Patriots ended up winning 23–20 in overtime; the game caused controversy due to a hit to the helmet of tight end Todd Heap by Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather.
Tom Brady has a career record of 6 and 3 against the Ravens
The Ravens played the Patriots for the third consecutive season, in the 2012 AFC championship game in which the Ravens lost 23–20. The rivalry reached a new level of friction with this, the second career playoff game between the two clubs. The Ravens clawed to a 20–16 lead in the fourth quarter but Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dove into the end zone to make the score 23–20 with around 11 minutes remaining; this proved to be the winning touchdown. On the Ravens last possession of the game, quarterback Joe Flacco threw a pass to wide receiver Lee Evans in the corner of the end zone which looked to be the game winning touchdown, before a last second strip by Sterling Moore forced the ball from the hands of Evans, forcing the game to be decided on a last minute field goal by Ravens placekicker Billy Cundiff. With eleven seconds remaining on the clock, the kicker missed the 32-yard field goal attempt by a very wide margin, allowing the Patriots to kill the clock on their way to Super Bowl XLVI for a Super Bowl XLII rematch with the New York Giants.
The Ravens' first regular-season win over the Patriots came on September 23, 2012. The game was emotional as receiver Torrey Smith was competing following the death of his brother in a motorcycle accident just the night before. Smith caught two touchdowns in a back and forth game; the Ravens erased a 13–0 lead in the first half and led 14–13, but the Patriots scored at the end of the second quarter for a 20–14 lead. The lead changed twice in the third quarter and the Patriots led 30–21 in the fourth, but the Ravens scored on Smith's second touchdown catch. The Ravens were stopped on fourth down but the Patriots had to punt; in the final two minutes a pass interference penalty on Devin McCourty put the ball at the Patriots 7-yard line; new Ravens kicker Justin Tucker booted a 27-yard field goal on the final play; the ball sailed directly over the upright and was ruled good; the quality of officiating by replacement referees caused controversy as Bill Belichick angrily reached for one of the referees as they were leaving the field, leading to a $50,000 fine later that week.
Massachusetts native Robert Kraft has owned the team since 1994
The 2 teams met again on January 20, 2013 in the AFC Championship, where the Ravens won 28–13. The Patriots led at halftime, 13–7, but the Raven Defense gave up no points in the 2nd half. It was the first time ever that Tom Brady lost a game at home after leading at halftime, and the first time a road team beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship.
Under head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots have employed specific on-field and off-field strategies. On the field, the Patriots have typically utilized an "Erhardt-Perkins" offense and a "Fairbanks-Bullough" 3–4 defense, referred to commonly as a 2-gap 3–4 defensive system. Their philosophy in making personnel decisions and in game planning has focused on the "team" concept, stressing preparation, strong work ethic, versatility, and lack of individual ego. This approach, which led to three Super Bowl victories under Belichick, was analyzed in the 2004 book Patriot Reign.
When owner Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, he did so for $175 million. Since then, the Patriots have sold out every home game in both Foxboro Stadium and Gillette Stadium. By 2009, the value of the franchise had increased by over $1 billion, to a Forbes magazine estimated value of $1.361 billion, third highest in the NFL only behind the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. As of July 2011, the Patriots are the sixth most valuable sports franchise in world according to Forbes magazine.
Since 2002, the Patriots' home stadium has been Gillette Stadium, a $350 million facility privately financed by Kraft. It houses all administrative offices for the team and its owning entity, The Kraft Group, as well as the Kraft-owned Major League Soccer team, the New England Revolution. The field, which was originally natural grass, was replaced with a FieldTurf surface during the 2006 season. The area around the stadium was developed, beginning in 2007, into a $375 million "lifestyle and entertainment center" called Patriot Place; among its largest structures is a multi-floor restaurant and bar called CBS Scene.
The New England Patriots feature 18 former players and one contributor in their team hall of fame, established in 1991. A committee of media and staff selected 11 players for enshrinement between 1991 and 2001, before a six-year span of no selections. In 2007, in advance of the 2008 opening of the Hall at Patriot Place, the Patriots introduced a new nomination committee to select three candidates, with the winner of an internet fan vote being enshrined in the hall of fame. In order to be eligible, players and coaches must be retired for at least four years. Beginning in 2011 and meeting every five years, a senior selection committee has the option of voting a player who has been retired for at least 25 seasons into the hall of fame.
Former owner Billy Sullivan was inducted by owner Robert Kraft in March 2009, the Patriots' 50th season, as a contributor.
Additionally, four former Patriots players have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Patriots have officially retired seven uniform numbers.
In November 1971, fans voted on a 10-year Patriots anniversary team, which coincided with the team's ten years in the then-defunct American Football League: Additional selections for returner, special teamer, and coach were added in 2009:
The Patriots also employ a corps known as the End Zone Militia. During each game, about ten men dressed as minutemen line the back of each end zone. When the Patriots score a touchdown, field goal or point-after-touchdown, the militia behind the opposite end zone fire a round of blanks from flintlock muskets. ESPN writer Josh Pahigian named this one of the top ten celebrations in the league in 2007.
The widespread growth of mobile devices and social media have cause the Patriots to expand its team update information into other platforms. Some off-air news updates via social media take place including on Facebook,Google+, and Twitter. Additionally, the Patriots maintain a team related mobile app for iPhone and Android smartphones.