In the 21st century's first decade, the Patriots won three Super Bowls, four AFC Championships, seven AFC East titles and went 14-3 in the playoffs; tough to imagine that type of success could be repeated. But in the decade that just ended, they also won three Super Bowls, five AFC Championships, every single division title (10) and compiled a 16-7 playoff record.
Malcolm Butler's interception. 28-3. MVPs and coach of the year awards. A season of unlikely comebacks. Record-setting performances. Here's a look back on a decade that was successful beyond any of our hopes.
How it began: The Patriots started the year with a home playoff loss to the Ravens on Jan. 10, 2010. Star receiver Wes Welker had torn his ACL at Houston in the final game of the 2009 season – the season head coach Bill Belichick now famously said he could not get the team to play the way it needed to be successful. So that 10-6 team bowed out in a Wild Card playoff game.
The Draft: New England landed safety Devin McCourty in the first round and tight end Rob Gronkowski in the second. Little did we know back then that Gronk had fallen asleep on the floor of a Patriots meeting room during his pre-draft visit. Coach Belichick picked him anyway and it worked out okay.
The Patriots Hall of Fame: The franchise's all-time leading rusher, Sam "Bam" Cunningham was chosen by the fans to be enshrined in the team's hall of fame.
- On Oct. 4 at Miami, the Patriots became the first team in NFL history to score a touchdown five different ways in the same game – rushing, receiving, blocked field goal for a score, kickoff return and an interception return.
- Tom Brady posted a perfect 158.3 passer rating for the second time in his career when he completed 21-of-27 passes for 341 yards and no interceptions in a 45-24 Thanksgiving Day win over the Lions.
- The Patriots closed out the season with eight straight wins to finish with a 14-2 record.
How it began: The Patriots 2010 regular season finale came on Jan. 2, 2011 and saw running back BenJarvus Green Ellis eclipse 1,000 rushing yards for the season. On Jan. 16, the Patriots 2010 season ended after an upset home Divisional round playoff loss to the rival New York Jets, 28-21.
The Draft: The Patriots selected left tackle Nate Solder in the first round and key contributors like Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley and Marcus Cannon in rounds 2-5.
The Patriots Hall of Fame: The Hall's Senior Selection Committee voted center Jon Morris into The Hall and the fans elected quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
- Robert Kraft's direct intervention helped end a 135-day lockout that threatened the 2011 season. Colts center Jeff Saturday credited Kraft with getting a deal agreed upon.
- The season was dedicated to Patriots matriarch and owner Robert Kraft's wife, Myra Hiatt Kraft. The team wore MHK patches on its jerseys that season.
- Tom Brady and Wes Welker tied an NFL record for longest pass completion on a 99-yard touchdown pass in the season opener at Miami.
- The Patriots won their final 8 regular season games to finish 13-3.
- Tom Brady was named the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player and Bill Belichick was the AP Coach of the Year.
How it began: The Patriots rolled Denver in a Divisional playoff game and won the AFC Championship when Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32-yard game-tying field goal try in the waning seconds to send the Patriots to Super Bowl XLVI. Unfortunately, the Patriots dropped a 21-17 Super Bowl decision to the Giants on Feb. 5, 2012 in Indianapolis.
The Draft: The Patriots, armed with two first round draft picks, selected Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower while landing special teams contributor Nate Ebner in the sixth round.
The Patriots Hall of Fame: Troy Brown was elected by the fans to as the team's 19th Hall of Famer.
- Matt Light announced his retirement on May 7 and held a press conference at the Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon.
- Gino Cappelletti retired from the broadcast booth and was replaced by Scott Zolak.
- Kevin Faulk announced his retirement in October at a press conference at The Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon.
- The Patriots finished the season 12-4 and played their first game in London where they trounced the St. Louis Rams, 45-7.
How it began: The Patriots hosted and won a Divisional playoff game against the Texans to earn an AFC Championship game rematch against the Ravens. This time, it was the Ravens that prevailed, beating New England, 28-13, on Jan. 20, 2013.
The Draft: The Patriots traded their first pick and then selected linebacker Jamie Collins and wideout Aaron Dobson in Round 2 and college teammates Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon in Round 3.
The Patriots Hall of Fame: Robert Kraft named the "Voice of the Patriots," Gil Santos, to The Hall of Fame as a contributor while the fans elected linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
- The Year of the Comeback started with four straight wins and a loss in Cincinnati. It looked like the Pats were about to drop a second straight when Tom Brady hit Kenbrell Thompkins in the end zone with five seconds left to steal a 30-27 win over the Saints on Oct. 13.
- The Patriots dropped a heartbreaker in Carolina after a controversial no-call. On the final play of the game, Brady threw a pass in the end zone to Rob Gronkowski, who was mugged by Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. The official in the end zone threw a flag for pass interference, which would have given the Patriots the ball on the 1-yard line. But after a conference among the officials, the flag was picked up and there was no infraction as the Patriots lost, 24-20.
- One week after the Carolina debacle, New England fell behind Denver, 24-0, at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots rallied in the second half and took a 31-24 lead only to see the Broncos tie it and send it to overtime. It appeared the teams might tie when the Patriots punted late in the overtime, but the punt hit a Broncos player, New England recovered, and then kicked a game-winning field goal to win, 34-31. It remains the largest regular season comeback in team history.
- The final comeback came at home vs. Cleveland. The Browns scored a touchdown with to take a 26-14 lead with 2:39 left in the fourth quarter. New England then drove 82 yards in 1:38 and scored on Brady-to-Julian Edelman 2-yard pass to make it 26-21. The Patriots then recovered an onside kick and drove 40 yards in 30 seconds to win on a Brady-to-Danny Amendola 1-yard scoring pass and a 27-26 win.
How it began: After a Divisional playoff win over the Colts, during which running back LeGarrette Blount rushed for 166 yards and four touchdowns, the Patriots lost the AFC Championship in Denver, 26-16, on Jan. 19, 2014.
The Draft: New England spent its first round pick on defensive lineman Dominique Easley before grabbing quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the second, and three contributors – center Bryan Stork, running back James White and offensive lineman Cameron Fleming – in the fourth round.
The Patriots Hall of Fame: Patriots fans voted cornerback Ty Law into the team's hall of fame.
- The Patriots lost their opener in Miami and got throttled on Monday Night Football at Kansas City in Week 4. Quarterback Tom Brady was under fire as the team prepared to host the Bengals. Bill Belichick's "On to Cincinnati" press conference changed the narrative that week, and New England rolled the Bengals, 43-17, to start a seven-game winning streak.
- Tom Brady surpassed the 50,000 yards passing plateau in the team's Week 5 win over the Bengals.
- In a Nov. 2 win over the Broncos, Julian Edelman set a franchise record with his fourth career punt return for a touchdown (84 yards) and Tom Brady surpassed John Elway for fifth place on the all-time passing yards list.
- In a Nov. 16 win at Indianapolis, running back Jonas Gray rushed 37 times for 201 yards and four rushing touchdowns. He became the first Patriots running back to rush for 100 yards in each half of a game and tied an NFL Record with 15 rushing first downs.
- Robert Kraft tied George Halas as the fastest owner to 250 wins (368 games) when the Patriots beat the Jets, 17-16, on Dec. 21.
How it began: The Patriots overcame a pair of 14-point deficits to win a Divisional playoff game, 35-31, over the Ravens in a game that featured a Julian Edelman-to-Danny Amendola touchdown pass and some unusual offensive formations. New England then crushed the Colts, 45-7, in the AFC Championship and overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to win Super Bowl XLIX, 28-24. Malcolm Butler intercepted Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on the Patriots 1-yard line with 20 seconds left in the game to seal the title.
The Draft: The Patriots selected defensive lineman Malcolm Brown in the first round, safety Jordan Richards in the second, defensive lineman Geneo Grissom in the third, defensive lineman Trey Flowers, guard Tre' Jackson and guard Shaq Mason in the fourth and long snapper Joe Cardona in the fifth.
The Patriots Hall of Fame: The Senior Selection Committee named Houston Antwine to the hall of fame while fans elected Willie McGinest.
- The Patriots opened the season on Thursday night and unveiled the team's fourth Super Bowl Championship banner during a pregame ceremony.
- The Patriots started the season 10-0 before losing four of six to finish 12-4.
- During a 51-27 win over Jacksonville on Sept. 27, Tom Brady became the fourth player to reach 400 career touchdown passes when he flipped a 1-yard scoring pass to Danny Amendola.
- On Nov. 15, kicker Stephen Gostkowski set a new franchise record for most field goals with 263. He broke Adam Vinatieri's record on a 54-yard field goal.
- The Patriots set an NFL record by scoring in 32 consecutive quarters. The record streak ended at 38.
How it began: The Patriots lost the season finale in Miami, 20-10, on Jan. 3, which cost them the AFC's top seed. After a playoff win over the Chiefs, New England dropped a heartbreaker, 20-18, in the AFC Championship Game at Denver on Jan. 24, 2016. A missed extra point forced the New England to go for a game-tying two-point conversion and when that failed, the Patriots were eliminated.
The Draft: The Patriots didn't have a first round pick, but selected cornerback Cyrus Jones in the second round, guard Joe Thuney, quarterback Jacoby Brissett and defensive tackle Vincent Valentine in the third, wideout Malcom Mitchell in the fourth and linebacker Elandon Roberts and offensive lineman Ted Karras in later rounds.
The Patriots Hall of Fame: Running back Kevin Faulk was inducted into the team's hall of fame.
- Quarterback Tom Brady missed the first four games because of a questionable suspension, but the Patriots started 3-1 with Jimmy Garoppolo starting two games and Jacoby Brissett starting two in Brady's absence.
- The Patriots rolled Cleveland, 33-13, in Brady's Week 5 return.
- Tight end Rob Gronkowski caught a 53-yard touchdown pass in a 41-25 win at Buffalo on Oct. 30 for his franchise record 69th touchdown (68th receiving), which surpassed Stanley Morgan for the franchise's top spot.
- Brady became the fifth quarterback in NFL history to surpass 60,000 passing yards when he connected with Julian Edelman for an 18-yard completion in the second quarter of a 27-17 victory over the Jets on Nov. 27.
- Brady became the NFL's all-time winningest quarterback (regular and postseason) with his 201st victory after a 26-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams at Gillette Stadium.
- Following a Week 10 loss to Seattle in which New England was stopped on the goal line while attempting to tie, the team never lost again. It won its last seven to finish 14-2.
How it began: The Patriots won a New Year's Day season finale to earn the AFC's top seed before rolling through Houston and Pittsburgh to win the AFC Championship and earn a berth in Super Bowl LI. After falling behind the Atlanta Falcons, 28-3, New England staged an epic comeback and won the first ever overtime Super Bowl, 34-28, on James White's touchdown run. Danny Amendola's fourth down reception, Dont'a Hightower's strip sack and Julian Edelman's famous catch were among many key plays in the biggest comeback win in Super Bowl history.
The Draft: The Patriots traded their first three picks before selecting Derek Rivers and Tony Garcia in the third round and Deatrich Wise in the fourth.
The Patriots Hall of Fame: Raymond Clayborn was elected as the 26th member of the Patriots Hall of Fame.
- The Patriots unveiled their fifth Super Bowl banner in a season-opening ceremony before losing to the Chiefs, 42-27.
- The Patriots defense struggled early in the 2017 season, allowing 42, 20, 33 and 33 points while going 2-2, but righted the ship and won 11 of their last 12 to finish 13-3.
- The Patriots went 8-0 on the road for the second time ever (2007)
- Tom Brady threw for 447 yards and three touchdowns in a Week 2 win over the Saints to earn his 28th player of the week honor, surpassing Peyton Manning for the most ever.
- In an Oct. 15 win over the Jets, Brady became the all-time winningest regular season quarterback with his 187th win.
- The Patriots trounced the Raiders, 33-8, in Mexico City – a win that moved Bill Belichick past Tom Landry on the all-time coaching wins list (271). Kicker Stephen Gostkowski set a franchise record in the win with a 62-yard field goal.
- With a New Year's Eve win over the Jets, the Patriots clinched the AFC top seed for the seventh time in history.
How it began: The Patriots rolled through Tennessee in a Divisional round playoff game before hosting the talented Jacksonville Jaguars. Tom Brady threw two fourth quarter touchdown passes to Danny Amendola to help the Patriots overcome a 10-point deficit to win, 24-20, and advance to Super Bowl LII – their second straight Super Bowl. Despite Brady's Super Bowl record 505 passing yards, New England dropped a 41-33 decision to the Eagles, which left many to wonder why starting cornerback Malcolm Butler was benched for the game. On Feb. 3, Tom Brady was named Associated Press MVP for the third time.
The Draft: The Patriots drafted a pair of Georgia Bulldogs in the first round in left tackle Isaiah Wynn and running back Sony Michel. They added linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley in the fifth round and tight end Ryan Izzo in the seventh.
The Patriots Hall of Fame: The fans elected Matt Light to the team's hall of fame.
- The 2018 season started slowly with New England dropping road games at Jacksonville and Detroit in Weeks 2 and 3 to fall to 1-2 on the season, but rattled off six wins in a row thereafter to get back on track.
- On Sept. 30, Robert Kraft won his 300th game as the team's owner becoming the fastest to do so (432 games).
- The Patriots 43-40 win over the Chiefs on Oct. 14 was the team's 218th since 2000, giving them the most wins in consecutive decades in NFL history.
- The Patriots lost at Miami on Dec. 9 on desperation final play involving laterals (Miracle in Miami) and dropped another at Pittsburgh a week later to finish 3-5 on the road with all five losses coming to non-playoff qualifiers.
- The Patriots finished the season with wins over the Bills and Jets to clinch the AFC's No. 2 seed and a first round playoff bye.
How it began: Despite predictions of the Patriots demise, they rolled the Los Angeles Chargers in their opening playoff game before going on the road to Kansas City to win the AFC Championship in overtime, 37-31. The Patriots then won their sixth Super Bowl on Feb. 3 in a defensive struggle, 13-3, over the Los Angeles Rams. The game's only touchdown was set up by a beautiful Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski connection that proved to be Gronk's final career catch. Stephon Gilmore's late interception on the Patriots 4-yard line helped seal the title.
The Draft: New England took a first-round wide receiver (N'Keal Harry) for the first time in the Belichick era. They followed that pick with cornerback Joejuan Williams, linebacker Chase Winovich, running back Damien Harris and punter Jake Bailey.
The Patriots Hall of Fame: The Senior Selection Committee chose left tackle Leon Gray for induction while the fans voted in first-time finalist Rodney Harrison.
- Patriots Hall of Famer Ty Law was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame during an early-August ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
- The Patriots opened the season with their sixth championship banner unveiling ceremony at Gillette Stadium.
- New England won its first eight games to open the season before facing Baltimore's Lamar Jackson for the first time and losing a 37-20 game to fall to 8-1.
- Tom Brady passed Peyton Manning for second place on the all-time touchdown passes list during the season finale against Miami when he connected to linebacker-turned-fullback Elandon Roberts.
- The Patriots lost a heartbreaker at home to Miami, 27-24, on Dec. 29 that cost them the No. 2 seed and forced a Wild Card weekend game against the Titans.
- The Patriots defense finished the season having allowed just 225 points or 14 per game – a franchise record.