BOSTON (CBS) — The free-agent movement of Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers really drove home just how ridiculous, how absurd, how patently preposterous the past two decades of football have been in New England.
Down in Tampa, where the Bucs won their first Super Bowl in 2002, times have been tough for almost the entirety of the Brady era in New England.
Ever since Tampa blew out the Raiders that one evening in February 2003, the franchise has won exactly zero playoff games.
They’ve played just two postseason games. Two. In 17 years.
Over that same period of time, the Patriots have averaged playing more than two playoff games every year.
It’s … it’s silly. The way the Patriots have spoiled the region with an avalanche over the past two decades is just not normal. Not at all. And the folks in Tampa can attest to that.
Whether that reign over the NFL continues into the future in a post-Brady era is anybody’s guess. But given the nature of the NFL for every team that has not had the pleasure of employing Tom Brady, it seems likely that an adjustment of sorts is in order.
That, though, is the future. And the future cannot ever be fully known.
What is known is that, as previously mentioned, the Patriots have played a metric ton of playoff games since 2001. Some of them have become legendary. Others in the next tier may not rise to such a level but are nevertheless unforgettable — for good and bad reasons. Still others remain firmly entrenched in the collective memories of every football follower in New England.
And then there are the forgotten ones. The mere idea of a “forgotten” playoff game is a completely foreign concept for 31 NFL teams. The Bills have played just two playoff games since the turn of the century. The Dolphins have played five playoff games since Dan Marino retired. The Browns have made the playoffs just once since 1994. (Yikes!) The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1990. (Extreme yikes!)
Even prestigious franchises have limited experience. The Dallas Cowboys, for example, have played just 10 playoff games since 2000. The Giants obviously had two Super Bowl runs this century, but they’ve made the playoffs just once since winning Super Bowl XLVI. (They lost that one playoff game, remembered mostly for the Miami boat party that preceded it.) Prior to the Super Bowl run last season, the Chiefs had gone just 2-11 in the playoffs dating back to the 1994 season.
You get the idea. For most every NFL franchise, playing in the postseason is a relatively rare treat. For the Patriots, it’s become commonplace.
And so, when looking back over the 41 Patriots playoff games since 2001 … there are some games that have become somewhat wiped out to history.
No, these games were not the Snow Bowl, or the upset victory over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI, or any Super Bowl for that matter. They weren’t the games when Peyton Manning visited Foxboro and found Ty Law and Rodney Harrison more often than he found Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison.
And they obviously don’t include the losses. In a region where winning has become the norm, the playoff losses remain lodged in the brains of everyone who’s followed the team. Just mention the year — 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 — and any self-respecting Patriots follower will come back with the list: Broncos (that was a touchback!), Colts (Indy blasted the heat in their dome!), Giants (can’t talk about that one!), Ravens (the Ray Rice game!), Jets (Worst. Night. Ever.), Giants (again!), Ravens (AGAIN!), Broncos (dang it, Peyton!), Broncos (DANG IT, PEYTON!), Eagles (The Malcolm Butler Game) and Titans (the end of the Brady era).
No, nobody around here will be forgetting those 11 losses any time soon.
But among those 31 victories? Among nearly two full seasons’ worth of playoff victories? There’s bound to be a bunch that have been obscured by the sands of time. And with no sports happening in this dreary world, what better time than now to give them their proper due?
The plan is to roll out one story per day, for as long as we can stoke our busted brains. As of now, there are nine forgotten playoff victories loaded in the chamber. Given the nature of the exercise, though, it’s possible that another one may be added to the party in order to create a nice round number.
They’ll all be linked below. Let’s party.
Forgotten Game No. 1: 2003 Divisional Playoff Game vs. Tennessee Titans, The Near-Derailment Of The Dynasty
Forgotten Game No. 4: 2005 Wild-Card Game Vs. Jaguars: Historic McGinest Showing, A Vinatieri Punt And A Watson Track Race
Forgotten Game No. 5: 2016 Divisional Round Vs. Texans, When Brock Osweiler Almost Ruined Football