Patriots season ticket members opened mailboxes across New England earlier this month to find that their arrangement of annual admissions had arrived, a sure sign each summer that football is not far off.
This year's season tickets also indicated the first of many ways throughout the year the Patriots will commemorate the team's first Super Bowl championship season, as 2016 marks the 15th anniversary of New England's celebrated 2001 campaign. Tickets for each home game feature highlights and high points from the 2001 season, all of which were moments that contributed to the Patriots' Super Bowl XXXVI victory.
Kicking things off in Week 1 of the preseason when New England hosts the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 11, game tickets will entertain flashbacks of the Patriots' first win of 2001 (after starting out 0-2) with a photo of linebacker Bryan Cox standing in the aftermath of a big hit on Indianapolis Colts receiver Jerome Pathon.
When fans pull out their tickets upon entry to New England's Aug. 18 preseason matchup against the Chicago Bears, they will see a picture of quarterback Tom Brady throwing a pass over a Chargers' defender during his first career 300-yard passing performance on Oct. 14, 2001. The Patriots went on to top San Diego, 29-26 in overtime. Entering the 2016 season, Brady has amassed 71 of those 300-yard passing performances, which ranks third in NFL history.
Tickets to the Patriots regular-season home opener feature the man who did it all – a photo of wide receiver David Patten from New England's Oct. 21, 2001 win over the Colts, when Patten became just the sixth player in NFL history to throw, catch and run for a touchdown in a single game.
Admission to the action on Sept. 22 against the Houston Texans sheds light on the Patriots' Nov. 18, 2001 clash with the then St. Louis Rams in a shot of safety Lawyer Milloy and linebacker Roman Phifer combining for a tackle. St. Louis took the 24-17 win that day, but the Patriots gained confidence. It was the Patriots' last loss of the season as they rolled to eight straight victories, including a 20-17 win over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Running back Antowain Smith is featured on the ticket to the Patriots' Oct. 2 meeting with the Buffalo Bills. A former Bill himself, Smith is pictured scoring on a 41-yard catch and run, the longest reception of his career, in New England's Nov, 25, 2001 victory over New Orleans.
Fans will be reminded of another Bills memory before New England hosts the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 16. Patten is highlighted in the picture once again, this time falling to the ground as his helmet touched down out of bounds, eliminating a ruling of a fumble during the Patriots' Dec. 16, 2001 game at Buffalo. Three plays later, New England won the game on a field goal to claim a 12-9 victory in overtime.
The image on this year's Seattle Seahawks tickets captures one of the most iconic moments in Patriots history – a shot of kicker Adam Vinatieri making a 45-yard field goal in the Divisional round of the 2001 playoffs against the Oakland Raiders, a 16-13 New England victory that became known as "The Snow Bowl."
In another trip down memory lane, a picture of quarterback Drew Bledsoe will dominate tickets to New England's Dec. 4 contest against the Los Angeles Rams. The photo of Bledsoe comes from the Patriots' 24-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2001 AFC Championship Game, when he threw an 11-yard touchdown pass after replacing an injured Tom Brady.
In Monday Night Football action on Dec. 12 against the Baltimore Ravens, tickets will feature the iconic moment when the Patriots became the first team to choose to be introduced as a team at the Super Bowl.
The tickets for the regular season home finale against the Jets on Christmas Eve feature one of the greatest gifts Patriots fans enjoyed that magical season, when Ty Law stepped in front of Isaac Bruce to pick off a Kurt Warner pass and return it 47 yards for a touchdown, giving the Patriots an early lead in a 20-17 victory and the first Super Bowl Championship in franchise history.