Greatest play in Patriots History?

Al Zarilla

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The other enormous play that was all Brady would be his TD run in the snow bowl game.
I thought of that TD as well, and maybe at that moment he became Tom F Brady (even though he fell down in the snow after the spike).

As for no huge plays involving Tom, every single play that gained yardage on the way to AV’s game winning kick against the Rams was huge.
 

snowmanny

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At least Julian Edelman had one of our all-time favorite pass plays. In the moment it was the just about the greatest thing I'd ever seen.

Ed:The LaFell pass by Brady was pretty sweet.
 

mwonow

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I'm with DDB - you have to have that pass to Troy Brown near the end of the (first) Rams SB no lower than third on this list
 

AB in DC

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Keith Byars 34 YD screen pass TD in 1996 AFC CG?
Kevin Turner TD v. Vikings when Bledsoe put up attempts record?
or the other kick in the snow.
I'd go with the Troy Brown catch from flat on his back in 1996 final game of the regular season, First time I realized that there was something special going on with this team. Obviously we couldn't seal the deal until a few years later, but Parcells taking this franchise from a joke to a Super Bowl contender in just four years is a freakin' miracle.
 

Dollar

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Every suggestion here has been a good one, of course. I just agree with someone above that the conversation to be had is really for #2. And to that, I submit a play that probably lands further down, but is one of my personal favorite plays of all time: The Ben Watson tackle touchback.

Edit: The butt fumble is also a fantastic choice
Love it.

Most underrated great thing about that video? The fact that it was made probably about a decade ago. They're showing the halls of Gillette Stadium filled with all the photos of the greatest plays in Patriots history, and that was a decade ago. Ten division titles ago. Five AFC championships ago. Three Super Bowl championships ago.

I'd be surprised if there's any open space on those hallway walls these days.

---

My answer is the Butler Pick and it's not even close.
 
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LogansDad

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I've tried to make this case before, but I think the single most important play in Patriots' history would be Brady's pass completion to Troy Brown before the Vinatieri kick in Super Bowl 36. If I had to pick one point where I could sort of draw the line between everything that went before and everything that went after, that's the play. It's not as dramatic or high difficulty as some of the others. But just going by the criteria of important -- both big "I" and small "i" -- that would be the play.

The other enormous play that was all Brady would be his TD run in the snow bowl game.
I think the correct answer in the context of this particular question is the Butler pick, but I really, really like this. In all of the highlights for the dynasty, and specifically Super Bowl XXXVI, that is the moment where the music kind of pauses, or gets really quiet, and then BAM nothing is ever the same again. That's the moment when, after pulling your lawnmower out for the first time in the spring, you pull, and you pull and you pull on the cord, and then finally the engine roars to life.... that's the Tory Brown catch. The whole entire thing took off from there.
 

TheMoralBully

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Butler pick. UDFA Patriot's success story, how unexpected it was and the fact that it staved off another BS miracle catch loss in the super bowl.

The Troy Brown strip of McCree in 2006 isn't approaching the top 5, but is a personal favorite of mine.
 

Otis Foster

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Been a fan since 1960, but for me its Butler and his pick. Part of it is context.

I was sitting in a hotel room in Hanoi, trying to track the game on ESPN (It was supposed to be video'd but I could never get it). Brady scores with 2:02 left, my wife tells me they're waiting for me, so I pick up my things and head out to the car. Once I get settled in, I checked ESPN again, and now the SHs have the ball at the NEP 1. WTF???

Then, I lost the signal. So I'm stranded in a city that could care less about American football and a worse disaster than Tyree staring me in the face. It was an agonizing several hours before I even knew the outcome, let alone how it happened. When I eventually saw the video, I realized it was a brilliant combination of great coaching and immaculate execution, if not divine intervention. I don't know where his career will take him, or how much was BB and how much was MB, but he can't buy a drink in any bar I see him in.

Worst? Tatum by miles. As bad as Pollard and some of the other hits were, none IMO were as clearly intentional and calculated to cause severe injury. The prick even boasted about it in his book, and as usual, it took a long time for the NFL to take preventative action.
 

Import78

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Not the greatest play, but one of my favorites that hasn't been mentioned yet was the Bruschi strip of Rhodes against the Colts. I think it was 2004 playoffs. That defense had many great plays, but that one was my favorite for no particular reason I can articulate. Maybe it was just the dominance of a strong opponent.
 

BornToRun

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Re: the Mo Lewis hit: I get the connection but didn’t David Halberstam write that BB had already decided on Brady at that point and it was already just a matter of time?
I remember Bill saying in one of the America’s games that they almost went with Tom out of camp in 2001 but held off due to his inexperience. The “Brady never sees the field if Drew doesn’t get hurt.” is a fun story but the reality is that Tom probably would’ve gotten his shot eventually and most likely wouldn’t have had to wait very long.
 

SidelineCameras

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Brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.

I have to go with the three plays in my sig: Butler, Slater, and Slater again.

And just to throw another favorite out there, the TB12 pass to Thompkins to beat the Saints. Unicorns, show ponies, yadda yadda yadda.

I love this play and of course Zolak's reaction. But an even better comeback was about to unfold about three hours later the same day:
https://www.mlb.com/news/david-ortiz-grand-slam-rescues-red-sox-in-alcs/c-62930324

As for the Patriots, it's Butler. After the ridiculous catch, the broadcast gleefully replaying Tyree, and the crushing inevitability of it all, never has victory been snatched from the jaws of defeat in quite the same way.
 

simplyeric

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worse disaster than Tyree
No way the Seahawks ‘miracle catch’ was a worse disaster than Tyree.

I actually think that’s the worst play in Patriots history. I don’t mean to discount the terrible injuries, but those were ‘indeterminate’ injuries. The Tyree play was, as a single football play directly related to a single football moment, that’s the worst.
 

BaseballJones

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No way the Seahawks ‘miracle catch’ was a worse disaster than Tyree.

I actually think that’s the worst play in Patriots history. I don’t mean to discount the terrible injuries, but those were ‘indeterminate’ injuries. The Tyree play was, as a single football play directly related to a single football moment, that’s the worst.
The Tyree play was probably the single worst play for the Pats in history (I'd say that Desmond Howard's KO return in the SB vs. GB was pretty high on the list, as the Pats had gotten to within six points and had momentum and then....boom). But the Tyree play did not come in a vacuum.

The Giants got the ball and immediately picked up a first down on an 11-yard pass to Amani Toomer. Then three plays later, the Pats had forced them into a 4th and 1 and Brandon Jacobs *barely* converted, by inches. That was one chance to end the game.

Manning then scrambled for five and that set up 2nd and 5 from the NY 44. Manning threw right and there wasn't a receiver (Tyree was the intended target) within 5 yards of the pass. The only guy there was....Asante Samuel. Not the easiest of catches, and anyone who says he dropped a sure interception is crazy, because it glanced off his fingertips. But still. He had a glorious chance right there to end it all. He makes that pick and Eli's passing line is TERRIBLE and is quickly forgotten in history. But he didn't and that brought up 3rd and 5.

Then came the Tyree play. Three *egregious* holdings on the O-line, no flags. Clear in the grasp, no whistle. Eli - soft as tissue paper - somehow escapes and just literally heaves a wobbly duck down the field. 98% chance that's either picked off or knocked away and somehow Tyree - he of the 4 receptions for 35 yards on the season, yet somehow the target of three of Eli's passes on this drive - comes up with the miracle catch.

But ok, NY now has the ball, 1st and 10 at the NE 24, needing a touchdown. Just 59 seconds to go. Plenty of time but also plenty of opportunity for the defense to make a stop. Eli throws an incompletion and then gets sacked by Adalius Thomas, leaving 3rd and 11 at the NE 25. Eli then hits Steve Smith for 12 for a first down, setting up the GW touch down.

Long story short, there were plenty of opportunities for the Patriots to seal that game, on that very drive, and they just didn't do it. Combination of bad play, missed opportunities, bad luck, and terrible refereeing, all coming together in a giant crap stew.

And after all that, Brady came *thisclose* to making the single greatest play in NFL history as the NY defender just barely tipped the 70 yard pass away from Moss.

Man just recounting all this makes me sick.
 

tims4wins

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In real time the Seattle play was worse IMO. The game was over. Whereas with Tyreee the Pats D still had a chance at a stop. Plus the Seattle play we had already been victimized by the Giants twice. It was here was fucking go again. It was terrible.
 

BaseballJones

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In real time the Seattle play was worse IMO. The game was over. Whereas with Tyreee the Pats D still had a chance at a stop. Plus the Seattle play we had already been victimized by the Giants twice. It was here was fucking go again. It was terrible.
The cameras cut to Brady on the sidelines after the catch and he had that exact look on his face. Like, you've gotta f-ing be kidding me.
 

BaseballJones

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Spoiler that shit dude!

That play is like the Scottish Play within the Scottish Game.

Fuck. That game still stresses me out.
I know right? I got upset all over again going through the game on profootball-reference.

Though to be honest, winning three since then has helped quite a bit. But damn.
 

Archer1979

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Every time I see the Kearse circus catch that set up the Butler INT, I think why didn't Harmon just kick the ball four rows into the stands when we was jumping over Kearse. Ultimately turned out ok, but still...
 

Al Zarilla

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Every time I see the Kearse circus catch that set up the Butler INT, I think why didn't Harmon just kick the ball four rows into the stands when we was jumping over Kearse. Ultimately turned out ok, but still...
On the Kearse catch, we thought, oh well, the Butler kid BB put in was too short to cover a guy like Kearse. Nice effort though. But, Malcolm made up for it later, to say the very freaking least.

 

Mystic Merlin

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Every time I see the Kearse circus catch that set up the Butler INT, I think why didn't Harmon just kick the ball four rows into the stands when we was jumping over Kearse. Ultimately turned out ok, but still...
Easy to say when viewed in slow motion, especially when his instinct is going to be to avoid contact with the players falling to the ground in front of him and the odds of a ball being caught in that situation have to be about 999/1,000.
 

slamminsammya

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This thread is mostly gushing about Butler, which I love, but the interesting debate is which is the second best play. As others have mentioned, there is no real argument for any play over the Butler pick.
 

BaseballJones

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Which play was *luckier*? The Tyree play or the Kearse play? Or, for that matter, the Edelman play vs. Atlanta? I'd suggest that Julio Jones' catch at the end of regulation was the greatest single catch I've ever seen. No luck involved. Just a throw that hit a postage stamp-sized window (while on the run no less...probably the best throw of Ryan's career when you consider everything) over a perfectly-placed defender, and Jones leapt and made a fingertip catch while getting both feet in-bounds (tap tap) and didn't lose control at ALL while hitting the turf hard...holy crap that was insane. Better than Santonio Holmes' catch (which may not actually have been a catch if you really watch it, but whatever) against the Cards.

So Jones' was all skill. The Tyree, Kearse, and Edelman catches all had a high degree of luck involved, along with a high degree of skill...but which was the luckiest?
 

Old Fart Tree

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Tyree was luckiest.

As for second best play in pats history I’m partial to Bledsoe hitting turner in the end zone to complete the comeback against the Vikings and I don’t care that it shouldn’t really be top 100.
 

TheoShmeo

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The following not the greatest play for sure.

But it’s the greatest play as part of a one two punch with the Sox.

And...you guessed it...it’s the Tompkins game winner against the Saints, which was followed hours later by Ortiz’s granny and the eventual pivotal ALCS game 2 win in 2013.

What a day that was.
 

Marbleheader

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The Butler pick is up there with the greatest plays in the history of sports. There's a big gap from there to #2. I think some people here are partial to the 01-04 Pats and are looking for a reason to include them.
 

BornToRun

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Tyree was luckiest.

As for second best play in pats history I’m partial to Bledsoe hitting turner in the end zone to complete the comeback against the Vikings and I don’t care that it shouldn’t really be top 100.
I’d say Kearse, at least Tyree had to keep the ball pinned to his helmet as he went to the ground. Kearse just had it fall in his lap while he was flat on his ass.
 

InstaFace

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The tuck play (if greatest=most important) and AV’s snow bowl kick are in the conversation.
For second-greatest? Absolutely.
Edelman's catch against the Falcons for Number 2
Yeah, you could put together a pretty good poll for #2. It'd be a much more interesting debate, frankly, than a chorus of people saying "well of course it's the Butler pick, but here are some other momentous plays".

The Butler pick is probably the greatest play in sports history. I doubt any other single play swung championship odds more.
Nearest I can think of would be Mazeroski. There was a good rundown a few years ago for plays that added the most championship win expectancy, nearly all were in a WS Game 7 obviously because even in a game 6 it halves your maximum potential. That 1960 game 7 had like 5 of the top 10, it was an absolutely bonkers game. IIRC, Mazeroski wasn't even the top play from that game, by championship WPA anyway.

If Moss had come down with the late bomb in the Scottish Game, that would be universally regarded as the greatest pass ever thrown in human history, likely leading to a 19-0 season.
Argo Fuck Yourself.
 

tims4wins

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Agree with the general thinking on the Edelman catch - it was a great play, and a signature play from that game, but it didn't have nearly the importance of some of the other great plays that would make the list.

I stick with Butler as 1 and the snow bowl game tying kick as 2
 

InstaFace

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The Troy Brown strip of McCree in 2006 isn't approaching the top 5, but is a personal favorite of mine.
Troy Brown plays would litter a top-20 list, but I'm not sure any of them make a top 5.

My contribution since it hasn't been mentioned yet would be his PR TD in the 2001 AFCCG at Pittsburgh. Provided the winning margin, first score of the game, set the tone.
 

tims4wins

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Troy Brown plays would litter a top-20 list, but I'm not sure any of them make a top 5.

My contribution since it hasn't been mentioned yet would be his PR TD in the 2001 AFCCG at Pittsburgh. Provided the winning margin, first score of the game, set the tone.
His catch on the last drive of Super Bowl XXXVIII was epic. Everyone remembers the Kasay kick out of bounds, but everyone forgets the Pats (Brown in fact, I think) were called for offensive pass interference and then faced a 1st and 20 situation. Brown then made an epic catch to get the Pats back across midfield and set up for the game winning kick.
 

mwonow

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bradmahn

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I think there's a top two for me: Butler's pick for all the reasons already mentioned and the Brady to Moss TD against the Giants to break the records for most TDs thrown and caught, also taking the lead in what would end up win #16 that year. For the life of me I cannot think of another play with so much history on the line.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Every time I see the Kearse circus catch that set up the Butler INT, I think why didn't Harmon just kick the ball four rows into the stands when we was jumping over Kearse. Ultimately turned out ok, but still...
Huh? He was already past the ball by the time he could have swatted at it when it popped up.
 

Bellhorn

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Nearest I can think of would be Mazeroski. There was a good rundown a few years ago for plays that added the most championship win expectancy, nearly all were in a WS Game 7 obviously because even in a game 6 it halves your maximum potential. That 1960 game 7 had like 5 of the top 10, it was an absolutely bonkers game. IIRC, Mazeroski wasn't even the top play from that game, by championship WPA anyway.
Right, the home team is already >50% win probability in that situation. Off the top of my head, I would guess that the three-run HR by Hal Smith (IIRC) the previous inning would have had the largest WPA.

But I would guess that the single biggest championship-odds-swinging play in baseball history would actually be Tony Womack’s double off Rivera in 2001 Game 7. Maybe this is not reflected by a baseline WPA calc, which probably overvalues the first and second, one out situation. In reality, facing Rivera, going from two outs away from defeat to a situation where a productive out wins the game is an enormous swing.
 

johnmd20

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I’d say Kearse, at least Tyree had to keep the ball pinned to his helmet as he went to the ground. Kearse just had it fall in his lap while he was flat on his ass.
The Kearse catch is unfathomably lucky. The Tyree catch was actually a catch. For Kearse, the ball had to take an INSANE bounce for it to drop into his hands. It's not even close. That was a pinball catch. It shouldn't have happened.
 
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If no one’s mentioned it, I’d nominate the McGinest goal line stuff of Edgerrin James back in ‘03 against Indy as a top 10 all time pats play.
 

Archer1979

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Huh? He was already past the ball by the time he could have swatted at it when it popped up.
Depends on the angle. The one I see the most makes it look like he could have just kicked it. Other angles, like the one posted earlier, show that he clearly could not have. That said, he could have taken a slightly different angle on the jump to go after it. But MM's point is well-taken, it's real-time decision-making vs slow-motion armchair analysis on a fluke play.
 

sheamonu

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Butler, Vinatieri snow bowl, Vinatieri v Rams, Edelman "oh, that's a catch!", Ty Law intercepts Warner (which started everyone thinking - "shit - could this really happen"). My question though - what's the biggest pre-Kraft era play? Johnny Rembert v. the Jets?
 

axx

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It's clearly the Mo Lewis hit, but Bledsoe actually played the following series and didn't go into the locker room even after being taken out. That whole game is on Youtube by the way.
 

Hendu for Kutch

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The determining factor in the case of Vinatieri v. Butler, in my mind, is the encapsulation of the INT.

As Brady moved the team down the field, you started to feel like they could redeem this game and pull it out after all. By the time Vinatieri went out to kick, superstition was the only reason to believe they wouldn't win the game. And at worst, they still had OT even if things didn't look good there.

Butler's INT is the the equivalent of the entire SB36 drive, from Redmond dumpoff to snow angel, all taking place in less than a second. In fact, the stakes we're higher because it didn't prevent a tie, it prevented a loss.
 

snowmanny

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Butler, Vinatieri snow bowl, Vinatieri v Rams, Edelman "oh, that's a catch!", Ty Law intercepts Warner (which started everyone thinking - "shit - could this really happen"). My question though - what's the biggest pre-Kraft era play? Johnny Rembert v. the Jets?
I'd put Jim Bowman over Johnny Rembert because it was the winning play in the next round. And it was so good that they did it again.

I THINK I did this right, but it's at around 1:55:03

 

GoDa

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Butler's INT has to be greatest play in NFL history.

AV's kick to tie in the snow felt like the most improbable.
 

sheamonu

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I'd put Jim Bowman over Johnny Rembert because it was the winning play in the next round. And it was so good that they did it again.

I THINK I did this right, but it's at around 1:55:03

That's certainly more important in terms of the outcome - Rembert just extended a pretty decent lead. I think his hit did more to create the play than Bowman did (Mosi was the Pat's player who dislodged the ball against the Raiders, although it was the muff that started the whole thing). The special teams' play during that stretch was incredible - you're dead right on the "they did it again" aspect of the Bowman touchdown. They were just swarming people and creating havoc (up to the Super Bowl).

I suppose the pre-Kraft "best play" has to come from this sequence of games, unless you want to go in to the realm of the absurd and start picking things like the time the fan came on to the field to break up a pass in the end zone...