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Touch the Titles: AFC Championship Trophies On Display

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The New England Patriots face the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on Sunday in their seventh consecutive AFC Championship Playoff appearance and 14th overall.

The Patriots won conference titles in 1985, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014 and 2016. They lost their bid to reach the Super Bowl in 2006, 2012, 2013 and 2015. With those nine AFC Championships come nine Lamar Hunt Trophies that live on display in The Hall’s “In the Moment” exhibit.

With the Patriots looking to win a tenth conference title in a 1996 AFC Championship rematch with the Jaguars, The Hall will remove the trophies from their glass case for a “Touch the Titles” display in which the trophies will be on a table for fans to touch (not pick up) and photograph.

The trophies will be available to the public:

  • Thursday, Jan. 18: (10:30 AM – 4:30 PM)
  • Friday, Jan. 19: (10:30 AM – 4:30 PM)
  • Saturday, Jan. 20: (10:30 AM – 8:00 PM)

With that, let's take a look back at the team’s nine AFC Championship wins:

January 22, 2017 – Gillette Stadium | Patriots 36 – Steelers 17

In another AFC Championship battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots marched past their AFC North rival for a trip to Super Bowl LI. New England jumped out with a field goal on the game’s first possession and then took a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter on a Tom Brady-to-Chris Hogan 16-yard touchdown strike. Pittsburgh answered to open the second quarter, but missed the point after. A 34-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Hogan on a flea flicker made it 17-6 and led to a huge defensive stand. Pittsburgh drove to the Patriots 1-yard line with 1:53 remaining in the half, but after two runs netted minus-4 yards, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw incomplete. Instead of an important touchdown, the Steelers settled for a field goal and a 17-9 halftime score. The third quarter was all Patriots as a Stephen Gostkowski field goal and a LeGarrette Blount touchdown run made it 27-9 before New England forced a fumble that led to a 10-yard TD pass from Brady to Julian Edelman and a 33-9 lead. The Pats added a field goal before the Steelers scored a garbage time touchdown for the 36-17 final.

January 18, 2015 – Gillette Stadium | Patriots 45 – Colts 7

The Patriots jumped out quickly against the upset-minded Indianapolis Colts and their young gun, Andrew Luck. But it was a huge mistake by Indy that opened the door after the teams traded three-and-outs. A muffed punt gave New England terrific field position at Indy’s 26-yard line and five plays later, LeGarrette Blount scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Indy’s Adam Vinatieri missed a 51-yard field goal, and the Patriots needed only 3:30 to take a 14-0 lead on a 1-yard pass from Tom Brady to James Develin. It was 17-7 at the break but the Pats blew it open in the third quarter. Nate Solder scored on 16-yard tackle eligible pass play to open the second half, and New England added touchdowns on its next two possessions to head to the fourth quarter up 38-7. An early fourth quarter touchdown by Blount – his third – provided the 45-7 final margin and a trip to Super Bowl XLIX.

January 22, 2012 – Gillette Stadium | Patriots 23 – Ravens 20

The Patriots have had plenty of dramatic playoff games since 2001 and this one ranked right up there. New Englanders might call it the Myra Kraft game. Ravens fans likely summarize it with two words – Billy Cundiff. The teams traded field goals and touchdowns in the first half before Stephen Gostkowski connected from 35 yards for a 13-10 halftime lead. It was 16-10 when the Ravens Joe Flacco hit Torrey Smith for a 29-yard touchdown and a 17-16 Ravens edge with 3:38 left in the third. Danny Woodhead fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Ravens quickly extended the lead to four on a 39-yard Cundiff field goal. Tom Brady had an interception overturned when Terrell Suggs jumped offside and the Patriots took advantage of the miscue, completing a 63-yard drive with a 1-yard Brady touchdown dive and a 23-20 lead. A Brandon Spikes interception set the Patriots up at midfield with a chance to extend the lead, but Brady threw an interception of his own on the first play. Leading by the three, the Patriots stopped the Ravens on a fourth-down play with 2:46 remaining, but Baltimore was not done. The Ravens forced a three-and-out and took over on their 21 with two timeouts and 1:44 to go. Flacco to Boldin proved lethal as Baltimore moved quickly into striking range. It was second-and-one from the Pats 14 with 27 seconds left when Flacco appeared to hit Lee Evans in the end zone for the winning score, but cornerback Sterling Moore reached in and knocked the ball free at the last second. Two plays later, Cundiff came on to attempt a game-tying 32-yard field goal. That’s when Myra Kraft may have stepped in to help the home team. The Patriots matriarch lost her battle with cancer just before that season and it is part of Patriots lore that she sent Cundiff’s chip-shot, game-tying field goal wide left to send the Patriots to the Super Bowl.

January 20, 2008 – Gillette Stadium | Patriots 21 – Chargers 12

The Patriots entered the 2007 title game an undefeated 17-0 with the hopes of completing a perfect season. Their high-flying, record-setting offense seemed unstoppable, but it was the defense that would rise and send New England to Super Bowl XLVII as it helped the Patriots overcome three Tom Brady interceptions in a 21-12 Championship Game win. The Chargers took advantage of Brady’s first interception to take a 3-0 lead, but the Patriots answered with a 10-play, 65-yard touchdown drive. It was 7-6 when Asante Samuel intercepted Philip Rivers to set the Patriots up at the San Diego 24. Two plays later, Brady hit Jabar Gaffney for a 12-yard TD. The Chargers added another field goal to make it 14-9 at halftime. Brady was then intercepted again to start the second half, but the defense held firm and forced a field goal to preserve the lead at 14-12. Brady’s third interception came in the Chargers end zone on a third-and-goal-from-the-2 play, but the Patriots defense forced a punt, and with another chance, Brady tossed a 6-yard scoring pass to Wes Welker for a 21-12 lead with 12:15 left – a lead that stood and sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl in Arizona. The defense held Rivers to just 19-of-37 passing with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

January 23, 2005 – Heinz Field | Patriots 41 – Steelers 27

The 14-2 Patriots had to go on the road as the No. 2 seed in 2004 to visit the 15-1 Steelers, who earlier in the season, had ended the Patriots NFL-record 21-game winning streak. Back-to-back big plays in the first quarter staked the Patriots to an early lead that shocked the Heinz Field crowd. Trailing 3-0, Pittsburgh faced a fourth-and-one from the Patriots 39. It decided to go for it and handed to The Bus, Jerome Bettis, who was stopped short by Mike Vrabel and also fumbled the football. The Patriots took over on their own 40, and Tom Brady immediately connected with Deion Branch for a 60-yard touchdown pass and a 10-0 lead. It was 17-3 when the Patriots defense made another huge play, this time when Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was baited into a throw by safety Rodney Harrison, who intercepted the pass and ran 87 yards for a touchdown and a 24-3 Patriots lead. Pittsburgh scored to make it 24-10 on its opening possession of the second half, but a 25-yard Corey Dillon touchdown run made it 31-10. Roethlisberger connected with Hines Ward for a 30-yard touchdown to make it 31-17 with 2:35 to go in the third, and after trading field goals, the Patriots put the game away when Branch took a reverse and raced 23 yards for a touchdown and an insurmountable 41-20 lead. Pittsburgh added a touchdown in the final minute, but the Patriots advanced to their third Super Bowl in four years.

January 18, 2004 – Gillette Stadium | Patriots 24 – Colts 14

The Colts stampeded into Foxborough for the AFC Championship game on a torrid offensive pace having not punted in its first two postseason games, but it was New England that jumped ahead on its opening possession. It converted a fourth-and-one from its own 44 and then completed a 13-play, 65-yard drive with a 7-yard, Tom Brady-to-David Givens touchdown pass. Peyton Manning and the Colts appeared poised to match the score after driving to the Patriots 5, but Manning was flushed from the pocket and threw to the end zone for tight end Marcus Pollard only to see safety Rodney Harrison intercept the pass in the end zone. The Pats drove for a field goal and a 10-0 lead before Ty Law intercepted Manning to set up another Adam Vinatieri field goal and a 13-0 Patriots lead. The Pats defense then forced the Colts first punt of the offseason, but the snap sailed over the head of punter Hunter Smith for a safety to make it 15-0. Indy opened the second half with a touchdown drive, but the Patriots kicked two field goals to take a 21-7 lead before two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time started trading interceptions. Law snared his second of the game just before the end of the third. Brady gave it back with an interception of his own on a third-and-goal-from-the-three play; then Law completed his hat trick by intercepting Manning at the Patriots 11. Indy still managed to get with seven after a touchdown with 2:27 left, but a 34-yard field goal with :50 to go sealed the New England win.

January 27, 2002 – Heinz Field | Patriots 24 – Steelers 17

The Patriots, fresh off the Snow Bowl playoff win over the Raiders went to Pittsburgh as double-digit underdogs against the top-seeded Steelers. The Patriots scored first on a Troy Brown 55-yard punt return for a 7-0 lead. New England led 7-3 with 1:59 to go in the half when Tom Brady completed a 28-yard pass to Brown to the Pittsburgh 40, but Brady suffered an ankle injury after being hit low as he released the pass. Drew Bledsoe came off the bench, shook of the rust of a four-month layoff and completed three straight passes to David Patten for 36 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown throw for a 14-3 halftime lead. Midway through the third, the Patriots special teams did it again. Brandon Mitchell blocked a 34-yard field goal try, which Brown scooped up and lateraled to Antwan Harris, who scampered 49 yards for a touchdown. Pittsburgh didn’t go away, however, scoring on its next two possessions to make it 21-17 entering the fourth quarter. A 44-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal made it 24-17 and then Tebucky Jones and Lawyer Milloy each snared interceptions to secure the shocking upset win, which sent the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXVI.

January 12, 1997 – Foxboro Stadium | Patriots 20 – Jaguars 6

Thanks to the Jacksonville Jaguars upset win over the Broncos in Denver, the Patriots hosted the AFC Championship for the first time in team history. New England scored first on a 1-yard Curtis Martin touchdown run on the team’s opening possession. The Patriots took a 13-3 lead into halftime, as the defense kept the clamps on elusive Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell. It was 13-6 midway through the fourth quarter when the Jags drove to the Patriots 5-yard line looking to tie it. That’s when Willie Big Play Clay stepped up and intercepted Brunell in the end zone to preserve the lead. The Patriots failed to take advantage of Brunell’s miscue but did capitalize on running back Jonathan Stewart’s a few minutes later. Linebacker Chris Slade punched the ball from Stewart directly into the arms of Otis Smith, who returned the fumble 47 yards for a touchdown and a 20-6 lead that sealed a Patriots Super Bowl berth. The game also featured a short delay after sections of the Foxboro Stadium lights went out during the game, an embarrassing moment that served to highlight the team’s need for a new, modern stadium. The Patriots advanced to face the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI.

January 12, 1986 – Orange Bowl | Patriots 31 – Dolphins 14

Fresh off two straight road playoff wins, the Cinderella Patriots traveled to Miami’s Orange Bowl where they had lost 18 straight games over a 19-year span. The upset-minded Patriots were confident, though, and used their strong running game behind Craig James (22 for 105), Robert Weathers (16 for 87) and Tony Collins (12 for 61) along with an outstanding defensive effort to snap the losing streak (some called it the Orange Bowl Jinx) and earn the franchise’s first Super Bowl berth. Overall, the Patriots ran the ball 59 times for 255 yards on a soggy day in Miami while the defense held Dan Marino to 20-of-48 passing for 248 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. The Patriots also recovered four Dolphins fumbles (while losing two of their own). New England turned Miami’s first fumble into a field goal and 3-0 lead. Marino and New England’s Tony Eason then traded touchdown passes before the Patriots turned a Marino fumble into another Eason TD pass for a 17-7 halftime lead. The Pats extended that to 24-7 on the second half’s opening possession and then thwarted a Miami drive with a Fred Marion interception in the end zone. Miami turned a Patriots turnover into a quick score to make it 24-14 with 14:28 left in the game, but another Dolphins turnover set up New England’s final TD on a 13-yard Craig James run to seal the upset and a trip to Super Bowl XX to face the Bears. The Patriots became the first team in history to win three straight road playoff games to reach the Super Bowl and the opportunistic club forced 16 turnovers in the three playoff wins – at the Jets, Raiders and Dolphins.

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