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2013: A Year in Review

As the Patriots season came to a close last Sunday, we take a look back at the 2013 season and recap all the games throughout the year.

Week 1: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (9/8/2013)

Tom Brady began the 2013 season with an entirely new receiving core. Brady struggled for most of the game, but was his usual self on the final drive, completing his final six passes to set up Stephen Gostkowski for the game-winning kick. All six of Brady's completions on the Patriots last drive went to Danny Amendola and Shane Vereen, both of whom had very strong performances. Amendola finished with an impressive 10 catches for 104 yards in his Patriots-debut, while Vereen caught 7 passes for 58 yards to go along with 101 yards on the ground. Unfortunately, both players were hurt in the game and would miss time in the following weeks.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 23, Bills 21

Week 2: New England Patriots vs. New York Jets (9/12/2013)

The Patriots offense continued to sputter in Week 2 as Brady struggled to get in sync with his young receivers. Brady passed for only 185 yards and completed less than 50% of his passes while the offense gained only nine first downs over the course of the game. But the defense stepped up forcing four turnovers and sacking Geno Smith four times. Julian Edelman was the star of the game with 13 catches for 78 yards. Aaron Dobson also received his first touchdown pass of his career en route to a Patriots win.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 13, Jets 10

Week 3: New England Patriots vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9/22/2013)

After two ugly weeks to start the season, the Patriots were finally able to put it all together against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady and Aaron Dobson seemed to be getting on the same page as the two connected on seven of ten pass attempts. Julian Edelman continued the process of being Brady's most-trusted target. The two were perfect on seven attempts. Kenbrell Thompkins also received his first and second touchdown passes of his career. The running game gained 151 yards on 28 carries (5.4 yards per attempt) as the Patriots featured a very balanced attack en route to their third straight victory. Defensively, the Patriots held Tampa Bay to only 3 points and kept Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin under 90 yards. In the week after the win, it was revealed that both Kyle Arrington and Vince Wilfork had suffered injuries against Tampa Bay. Wilfork suffered a foot injury but was able to participate fully in practice. Arrington, on the other hand, was limited in practice all week with a groin injury. The cornerback did not miss a single game in 2013, but he was listed on the injury report for the remainder of the season.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 23, Buccaneers 3

Week 4: New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons (9/29/2013)

Tom Brady had his best game through the first four weeks completing 64% of his passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Kenbrell Thomkins followed his two-touchdown performance against the Buccaneers with another strong game. He finished with 6 receptions for 127 yards, while Julian Edelman had his fourth straight game with at least seven catches. LeGarrette Blount ran for 64 yards on only 9 carries, including a 47-yard touchdown run late in the game. For the majority of the game, New England dominated the Falcons -- through three quarters, the Falcons were held to 13 points. However, a late surge by Matt Ryan made it a tighter game in the fourth quarter. The Patriots defense gave up 399 yards but held Atlanta to only one touchdown in six attempts inside the red zone. The big story following the game was that Patriots DT Vince Wilfork had torn his achilles and was lost for the remainder of the season.  

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 30, Falcons 23

Week 5: New England Patriots at Cincinnati Bengals (10/6/2013)

The Patriots started the month of October at a very rainy Paul Brown Stadium. By the end of the game the two teams were playing in weather that resembled a monsoon. After a strong performance by Brady and the offense in Atlanta, the group took a big step back in Cincinnati even with Danny Amendola making his return to the field. Brady completed less than 50% of his passes and did not throw a touchdown, ending his streak of consecutive games with a passing touchdown at 52. Former Patriots running back BenJarvis Green-Ellis scored the only touchdown of the game as neither team was able to muster much offense. The Bengals gave New England multiple chances to score in the fourth quarter but Brady was unable to take advantage of the opportunities. To make matters worse, Tommy Kelly left the game with a knee injury, leaving the Patriots without their two starting defensive tackles, the other being Vince Wilfork, lost the week prior. Kelly would later be placed on season-ending injured reserve on November 2.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 6, Bengals 13

Week 6: New England Patriots vs. New Orleans Saints (10/13/2013)

After two-straight games on the road, the Patriots traveled back to Gillette Stadium to face the undefeated New Orleans Saints. New England entered the half up 17-7 after two Stevan Ridley touchdowns in the second quarter. But Drew Brees and the Saints came out hot in the second half, scoring 10 unanswered points in the third quarter to tie the game. Another touchdown and a late fourth quarter field goal put the Saints up 27-23 with 2:24 left in the game. With 80 yards to go and only one timeout, Brady threw a deep pass intended for Julian Edelman that was intercepted by Keenan Lewis. The game was over ... or so we thought. New Orleans was unable to get a first down, giving Brady one last chance with 1:13 left. Beginning at the Patriots own 30-yard-line, Brady completed 5 of 7 passes for 70 yards. With less than :15 seconds left, Brady threw a 17-yard fade to Kenbrell Thompkins for the game-winning touchdown. However, despite the exciting finish, the Patriots lost two of its best defensive players Jerod Mayo left the game with a pectoral injury and was later placed on season-ending injured reserve. Aqib Talib, on the other hand, left the game with a hip injury and would return after missing three games (at NYJ, vs MIA, vs PITT). Even after returning in week ten against Carolina, Talib remainded on the injury report for the remainder of the season.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 30, Saints 23

Week 7: New England Patriots at New York Jets (10/20/2013)

Following their thrilling last-second win, New England traveled to New York to take on the Jets for the second time in 2013. Rob Gronkowski made his first start of the year and had an immediate impact. Gronk finished the game with 8 catches for 114 yards. It was obvious Tom Brady was glad to see his tight end back as he threw in Gronk's direction 17 times, including one that led to an interception to start the second half. New York Jets quarterback, Geno Smith, had a much better game than the first time he played the Patriots. He finished with 233 yards, a passing touchdown, and a rushing touchdown. New York dominated the time of possession and held the ball for 37:16 compared to the Patriots' 22:44. Still the Patriots were able to tie the game with another late drive led by Tom Brady. With only 2:10 remaining, the Patriots marched 66 yards on 12 plays to set up Stephen Gostkowski for a game-tying field goal. In overtime, the Patriots were unable to score and the Jets took advantage. Geno Smith drove New York 42 yards to set up a game-winning 56-yard field goal attempt for Nick Foles. The kick missed wide left but the Patriots were flagged with a controversial unnecessary roughness penalty involving Chris Jones pushing a teammate from behind. The penalty had never been called before in the NFL (or since).With the free 15 yards, Nick Foles set up for a 42-yard kick and this time he didn't miss.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 27, Jets 30

Week 8: New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins (10/27/2013)

The Patriots had a slow start to this one. The Dolphins got off to a 17-3 lead as Brady and the offense were unable to do anything with the football. But with a new half came a new team. After a Caleb Sturgis missed field goal to start the second half, the Patriots went on a roll. Tom Brady threw his first touchdown of the game to Aaron Dobson to cap very quick 64-yard drive. With the touchdown pass, Brady passed Fran Tarkenton for 4th in NFL history with 343 career passing touchdowns. On the Dolphins ensuing drive, Ryan Tannehill was strip-sacked by Logan Ryan. The fumble was recovered by Rob Ninkovich at Miami's 13-yard line. Within three plays, the Patriots tied the game. New England would get their final touchdown after a 13-play, 69-yard drive that began early in the fourth quarter. Miami would get two more chances but were unable to score. The Patriots defense held the Dolphins scoreless in the second half and only allowed 121 yards.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 27, Dolphins 17

Week 9: New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (11/3/2013)

Week 9 was a coming out party for the Patriots offense. In total, the offense scored seven touchdowns. Tom Brady had his first four-touchdown game of 2013 to go along with 432 yards through the air. Rob Gronkowski finally scored his first touchdown of the year on a 19-yard pass early in the second quarter. Gronk finished the game with 9 catches and 143 yards. Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola also received over 100 yards, finishing the game with 130 and 122 yards respectively. However, while the offense had a strong week, the defense struggled. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns himself, while the Steelers' running backs averaged over 5-yards per carry. But they were unable to match the Patriots offensive production and turned the ball over three times, including two Roethlisberger interceptions. The lone blemish for the Patriots offense against the Steelers came at the beginning of the second half. After receiving a pass from Brady, Stevan Ridley fumbled the ball at the Patriots 35 yard-line. Unfortunately, both Alfonzo Dennard and Steve Gregory left the game with a injuries. Gregory broke his thumb but returned less than a month later. Dennard suffered a knee injury which allowed him to return before Gregory, however, the injury continued to linger for the remainder of the season and forced him to miss three games.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 55, Steelers 31

Week 11: New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers (11/18/2013)

Coming off the bye, the Patriots traveled to Carolina to face one of the hottest teams in the NFL. The Panthers had won five straight games, including a statement win against the 49ers in San Francisco the week before. Tom Brady and the offense were able to move the ball in the first half but were unable to score convert those yards into touchdowns. One reason for their inability to score was due to a Stevan Ridley fumble early in the second quarter. New England was thirteen yards away from the endzone when Ridley fumbled the ball. The Patriots got their first lead of the game with just under 7:00 remaining after a Stephen Gostkowski 26-yard field goal. But after a five minute touchdown drive led by Cam Newton, New England found themselves down 24-20 with less than a minute to play. Brady attempted to pull off yet another miracle and drove the Patriots 62 yards all the way to the Panthers 18-yard line. With time for just one more play, Brady threw to Rob Gronkowski in the end zone but was intercepted by Robert Lester. Much like week seven's loss to the Jets, the game would end in controversy as Gronkowski appeared to have been interfered with by Luke Kuechly. In fact, a flag was thrown to that affect, but picked up after the referees huddled. An incensed Brady chased down the official as he left the field to no avail.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 20, Panthers 24

Week 12: New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos (11/24/2013)

Following the loss to Carolina, the Patriots needed a win against the Broncos in order to stay in the hunt for a first round-bye in the playoffs. One of the big concerns entering the Sunday night match-up was the health of the Patriots secondary. Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, and Kyle Arrington were all listed as questionable for the game and many were concerned how they would match up against the Bronco's high-powered offense. New England dug themselves a big hole early. On the Patriots first drive of the game, Stevan Ridley fumbled and the ball was picked up by Von Miller who returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. This was Ridley's third fumble in as many games and his fourth on the year. Things didn't get any better for New England as they fumbled on their next two drives as well. Both turnovers resulted in points for the Broncos. Denver added one more touchdown in the second quarter giving them a 24-point lead heading into the half. But much like the Week 8 game against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots came out a different team in the second half. New England opened up with an 8-play, 80-yard drive. Brady went 6-6 on the drive, including a 5-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman to give the Patriots their first points of the game. After a Montee Ball fumble on the ensuing drive, the Patriots took over at the Broncos 32-yard-line and pulled within 10 points with another touchdown. After the Patriots scored again in the third quarter, Peyton Manning threw his first interception of the game, making way for New England's first lead on another Julian Edelman touchdown. Ultimately, the game went to overtime where Wes Welker would misplay a punt setting up a 31-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal to win the game. Brady finished the game with 344 yards and 3 touchdowns.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 34, Broncos 31

Week 13: New England Patriots at Houston Texans (12/1/2013)

In week thirteen, Stevan Ridley found himself on the bench after fumbling in three straight games. Ridley traveled with the team but was told not to dress for the game. Similar to the week before against the Broncos, the Patriots dug themselves in another hole only to set up second-half comeback on the road. The 2-9 Texans gave New England all they could handle in yet another game that came down to the wire. Brady finished the game with 371 yards and two touchdowns, while Rob Gronkowski compiled his third 100-yard game of 2013. However, Stephen Gostkowski was the player of the game after he kicked two 53-yard field goals late in the fourth quarter to give New England the victory. For the second straight week, the Patriots had won, 34 to 31.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 34, Texans 31

Week 14: New England Patriots vs. Cleveland Browns (12/8/2013)

For the second time in three weeks, the Patriots were unable to score in the first half. From the start of the game, New England was outplayed by the Cleveland Browns. The Patriots were able to pull within five points with just under six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, however, Jason Campbell drove the Browns 90 yards in 8 plays to score, what would seem to be, the game-winning touchdown with 3:04 left to play. But the Patriot continued their resilient ways of 2013. Brady and the offense took over on their own 18-yard-line down 12-points and needing a quick score. With 1:00 remaining, he completed a 2-yard pass to Julian Edelman for the touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, Kyle Arrington recovered an onside kick to give the Patriots a chance to win the game -- and of course, Brady delivered. After a 30-yard defensive pass interference penalty on Leon McFadden, Brady completed a 1-yard touchdown to Danny Amendola giving the Patriots the win. Brady finished the game, completing 10 of his 12 passes for 113 yards on the final two drives. However, earlier in the game, Rob Gronkowski left with a knee injury. It was later reported that he had torn his ACL and the team was forced to place him on season-ending injured reserve.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 27, Browns 26

Week 15: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (12/15/2013)

Coming off their third-straight victory, the 10-3 Patriots traveled to Miami hoping to clinch their eleventh division title in 13 years. Without Rob Gronkowski, Brady relied heavily on Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Both receivers caught at least 10 passes for 130 yards. But with their season on the line, the Miami Dolphins came to play. Ryan Tannehill had arguably his best game as a pro, finishing with 312 yards and 3 touchdowns. Down 3 with just over four minutes remaining, Tannehil drove Miami 60 yards and gave his team the lead on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Thigpen. Brady would have one more chance to win it, but this time he was unable to pull off the comeback. With seven seconds left to play on Miami's 14-yard-line, Brady was intercepted in the end zone on a pass intended for Austin Collie.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 20, Dolphins 24

Week 16: New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens (12/22/2013)

Entering their Week 16 match-up against the Patriots, the Ravens had won four straight games to put themselves in playoff contention. New England went into Baltimore with a whole new game plan featuring LeGarrette Blount and the running game. Blount and his teammates established their physicality early and did not let up en route to 142 yards on the ground. Blount finished the game with 76 yards and two touchdowns -- his best game as a Patriot through 16 weeks. The defense held Baltimore to only seven points and forced four turnovers. Patriots second-year safety, Tavon Wilson, scored his first touchdown of his career after returning an interception 74 yards. It was 60 minutes of dominant football and many said it was the team's most impressive win of the year. New England also clinched the AFC East title earlier in the day with the Miami Dolphins loss.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 41, Ravens 7

Week 17: New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills (12/31/2013)

In order to earn a first round bye in the playoffs, the Patriots needed to beat the Buffalo Bills. With pouring rain in the game day forecast, New England prepared another run-heavy attack featuring LeGarrette Blount. Blount dwarfed his performance against the Ravens with a 189-yard, 2-touchdown game. As a team, the Patriots ran for 270 yards on 39 carries (6.9 yards per carry) en route to another dominating ground game performance. Buffalo pulled within one touchdown late in the game with 10 fourth quarter points, however, Blount sealed the game for New England with a 35-yard touchdown run with less than three minutes to go. For the second straight week, Brady failed to throw more than 200 yards but he did finish the game with one touchdown.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 34, Bills 20

Divisional Round: New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts (1/11/2014)

For the second-straight game, the Patriots were playing in rainy conditions. And for the second-straight game, the Patriots gained over 200 yards on the ground. LeGarrette Blount was the star again, rushing for 166 yards and a franchise record, 4 touchdowns. Stevan Ridley added 52 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots scored six times. The play of the game came with 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter. After a Colts punt, New England took over with a 7-point lead on their own 27 yard line. On the first play of the drive, LeGarrette Blount took off for a 73-yard touchdown that essentially sealed the game. Andrew Luck did his best to keep the Colts in it, but he was unable to match the New England offense. Luck threw four interceptions, two to Alfonzo Dennard. The defensive player of the game was rookie linebacker Jamie Collins who finished with 6 tackles, 1 interceptions, 1 sack, and 2 tackles for loss.  

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 43, Colts 22

AFC Conference Championship: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (1/19/2013)

The Patriots traveled to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. In the first half New England lost its starting cornerback, Aqib Talib, on a controversial pick play that Bill Belichick later called, "a deliberate attempt to take out Aqib." Without Talib, Manning and the Broncos high-powered offense proved to be too much for the New England defense. Denver controlled the ball for 35:44 as the Patriots were unable to get Manning off the field. Though the Patriots offense did not turn the ball over, Brady missed at least two opportunities could have changed the game's momentum. Denver began the second half with a 7-minute, 90-yard drive that gave them a 20-3 lead. The Patriots were able to score 13 points in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late.

FINAL SCORE: Patriots 16, Broncos 26

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