By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

NOTE: This is the fourth installment in a series dedicated to the “forgotten” playoff games from the Patriots’ 20-year run as kings of the NFL.

So, we’ve been running this series of “Forgotten Patriots Playoff Games” this week, and admittedly, the definition of forgotten has been stretched a little bit. Surely, you recall an AFC Championship Game, or an unforgettably cold night in Foxboro. You may have gone fuzzy on the details, but you remember the game.

Today … today that might change. Because even if you have a Patriots license plate, even if you named your child Brady, and even if you have a Patriots tattoo inked on your face, there’s a solid chance that you have no recollection whatsoever of the Patriots’ playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2005 season.

Even if you do have memories of that particular playoff game … are you 100 percent positive that you’re not remembering something from the ’07 divisional date with Jacksonville — another forgotten playoff game in its own right?

If you do remember this particular football contest, then, well, congratulations. You’ve got quite the memory in that brain of yours, and you’ve decorated it nicely with that Patriots tattoo.

For the rest of us, now’s as good a time as any to relive the Patriots’ 28-3 (hey, cool score) wild-card round win against Byron Leftwich, Jack Del Rio and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Background

Bill Belichick is without a doubt the greatest winner of the past 40 years and perhaps of all time. No other coach has been so maniacal and so successful at winning football games, and nothing is more important to Belichick.

Unleesssss … unless it’s a Week 17 game against the Dolphins. Unleesssss there’s a chance to fudge the numbers, manipulate the final standings, and guarantee a home date with the Jaguars in the wild-card round. Theeeennn, maybe Bill Belichick gets his Doug Flutie dropkick but also instructs Matt Cassel to throw a potential game-tying two-point conversion into the 30th row of the stands.

That seemed to be the case when the Patriots lost to the 8-7 Dolphins in Week 17, helping ensure that the Patriots would finish the year at 10-6 and thus get the Jaguars instead of the Steelers. That’s just some good planning right there.

The Jaguars, though, were a pretty good football team, as evidenced by their 12-4 record. After starting the year 4-3, the Jags got hot, winning eight of their last nine games to comfortably earn a wild-card spot. (The 14-2 Colts beat the Jags twice — both in one-possession games — en route to winning the AFC South).

Their defense ranked sixth in points allowed, and Byron Leftwich had his best season as a starter, throwing 15 touchdowns and five interceptions while steering the Jags to an 8-3 record in his 11 starts. (He did have a grisly 57.9 percent completion rate, but this is Byron Leftwich we’re talking about here.) However, Leftwich suffered a broken ankle in late November, and this playoff game marked his first game action after suffering the injury.

In terms of impressive wins, though, the Jags were a little short on those. In that 8-1 stretch, they beat the Texans (2-14) and Titans (4-12) twice apiece. They also beat the Ravens (6-10), Cardinals (5-11), Browns (6-10), and 49ers (4-12).

The Patriots, though, were a rather mediocre team that year. They went 10-6, ranking 10th in points scored and 17th in points allowed. They lost by double digits to the Panthers, Chargers, Colts and Chiefs. They managed to win the AFC East, but coming off a 14-2 Super Bowl-winning season in ’04, this team lacked that championship look.

Nevertheless, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick would be taking their 9-0 postseason record together into the playoffs, so there was no reason to doubt them.

The Highlights

If you forget this game, perhaps it because you fell asleep in the first quarter and forgot to wake up. Here’s how the first six possessions went on this Saturday evening:

–Two yards, punt
–One yard, punt
–50 yards, punt***
–7 yards, punt
–27 yards, failed fourth-and-10 attempt
–Loss of 12 yards, punt


***Special exception for this one punt, though, because it was kicked by Adam Vinatieri. The Patriots lined up for a 46-yard field goal, but the snap went to Vinatieri, who calmly pooched the ball inside the 10. Lonie Paxton made a diving play to prevent the ball from bouncing into the end zone, and Daniel Graham downed it on the 4-yard line. It was Vinatieri’s first and only career playoff punt. That was awesome. Did you remember that? I didn’t remember that. OK, back to it.

Then, finally, the back-to-back reigning champs decided to score some points. Three plays after Kevin Faulk broke an 18-yard run through a huge hole on a third-and-6, Brady finally found a hole in the Jaguars’ defense (thanks to a pump fake to buy some space) and connected with Troy Brown for an 11-yard touchdown.

Troy Brown celebrates his touchdown against the Jaguars. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Troy Brown. He’s the best.

The Jaguars finally got some offense going with a 19-yard connection between Leftwich and Jimmy Smith, but Alvin Pearman fumbled on the very next snap, thanks to a hard hit from Eugene Wilson. (Eugene Wilson had a tremendously brief run as an impact player for the Patriots, but man oh man did he love dishing out some ferocious hits in the playoffs.)

The Patriots didn’t capitalize on the extra possession, punting after a three-and-out, and then the Jags embarked on their best drive of the night. Leftwich went 6-for-8 for 58 yards to get the Jaguars to the Patriots’ 18-yard line, but the Patriots’ defense forced an incompletion on a third-and-4. The Jags settled for fa field goal attempt, and Josh Scobee kissed the 36-yarder off the right upright and through.

Brady nearly connected with Deion Branch for a 54-yard touchdown, but the duo who loved a good long bomb couldn’t quite make this one happen.

(GIF from YouTube)

Deion Branch can’t hang on to a pass against the Jaguars. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The score was 7-3 at the half. The Jaguars must have been feeling great about that.

Hopefully they didn’t get too excited, though. They didn’t know it at the time, but they were about to be hit with the full force of the playoff Patriots. It was going to get ugly.

The Ending

The Jaguars opened the second half with the football, but Asante Samuel defended a third-down pass to Smith, thus forcing a punt. The Patriots countered with a methodical drive, moving 81 yards on 12 plays and capping it off with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brady to David Givens.

That drive was largely made possible by … Andre Davis? The least-prolific wide receiver of the past 20 years picked up 13 yards on a reverse …

… and then made an alert play to recover a Ben Watson fumble inside the Jaguars’ 5-yard line. Brady hit Givens for the TD on the next play.

Way to go, Andre Davis, for making that all happen. (Be honest: You did not remember Andre Davis, whose Patriots career lasted all of 11 games. You didn’t. You couldn’t have. How many Patriots facial tattoos do you even have??)

The Jaguars, now trailing 14-3, responded by going three-and-out.

And then … well, then this happened.

(GIF from YouTube)

And that’s the exact moment that Ben Watson turned the Jaguars into a high school team.

Ben Watson runs for a touchdown against the Jaguars. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

If that wasn’t enough to signal that this game was over, the Jaguars’ next drive ended with Leftwich’s only touchdown pass of the night … as he threw a pick that Asante Samuel brought back 73 yards for a touchdown. Ballgame.

Asante Samuel runs back an interception for a touchdown against the Jaguars. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

While that concluded the scoring for the evening, we’d be remiss if we didn’t commemorate the historic evening for one Mr. William Lee McGinest Jr. Here’s where McGinest stood out on the stat sheet that night:

Second quarter, 15:00, third-and-15: Byron Leftwich sacked by Willie McGinest for -7 yards

Third quarter, 1:39, first-and-10: Byron Leftwich sacked by Willie McGinest for -5 yards

Fourth quarter, 11:39, third-and-2: Byron Leftwich sacked by Willie McGinest for -15 yards

Fourth quarter, 3:33, first-and-10: David Garrard sacked by Willie McGinest and Richard Seymour for -7 yards

Fourth quarter, 3:03, third-and-6: David Garrard sacked by Willie McGinest for -5 yards

That right there is a ferocious, violent performance from a fellow whom opposing quarterbacks never enjoyed seeing in the month of January. And those 4.5 sacks set a single-game playoff record, one that still holds to this day.

Look at poor Byron here. That’s a young man who would have needed a permanent ice bath on even his healthiest day. Considering this was Leftwich’s first game after suffering a broken ankle, the pain must have been immeasurable.

Willie McGinest sacks Byron Leftwich (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Willie McGinest, Byron Leftwich (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Willie McGinest, Byron Leftwich (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Somebody give that man a hug. But not Willie. He’s done enough. (It was polite of Willie to get David Garrard a couple of times, just to let Leftwich know that it was nothing personal.)

Obviously, the Patriots’ attempt to win three straight Super Bowls died the following weekend in Denver, even though Champ Bailey definitely fumbled through the end zone and even though the pass interference penalty in the end zone on Asante Samuel vs. Ashley Lelie was a phantom call. And that loss in Denver has largely become the memory for the 2005 Patriots postseason.

But there was another game played that year by the defending champs, and it involved a little bit of history for a Patriots Hall of Famer, a ho-hum three-touchdown/zero-interception performance by Brady, and a postseason punt by Adam Vinatieri. Not bad.

We just have to hope that Byron Leftwich is finally feeling better. That was a rough night.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.