In “celebration” of New England’s biggest snowstorm in years, Matt Dolloff and Alex Barth go back through the history of the Patriots in the elements. They discuss some of the most impactful snow games in Patriots franchise history, as well as other great performances that may not get the recognition they deserve.
Listen above for the full podcast, which also features classic calls from the late Gil Santos and Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti.
1:59: 1982 “Snowplow Game”
11:32: 2000 win over Bills
15:27: Snow Bowl vs. Raiders in 2001 playoffs
31:58: 2003 win over Dolphins
42:17: Playoff wins over Colts in 2003-04
53:27: 2008 win over Cardinals
58:38: 2009 win over Titans
1:02:55: 2010 win over Bears
Here’s a quick recap of some of the games highlighted…
Snowplow Game vs. Dolphins, 1982
With five minutes to go in a scoreless game, the Patriots lined up for a go-ahead field goal from kicker John Smith. Before the kick, Steve Grogan told then-Patriots head coach to call upon Mark Henderson, operating an on-field snowplow as part of a prison work-release program, to clear a spot for Smith. The 33-yard kick was good, leading to a 3-0 Patriots win.
In the aftermath of the game – and for years later – Shula protested the move, claiming it was against the NFL’s Unfair Acts clause. Even though the league added a new rule the next year banning the use of snowplows during games, commissioner Pete Rozelle refused to overturn the result of the game.
Henderson’s plow currently hangs in the Patriots Hall of Fame at Gillette Stadium. On his involvement in the game, Henderson told reporters “What are they gonna do, throw me in jail?”
Snow Bowl vs. Raiders, 2001 Divisional Round
Up against the heavily favored Oakland Raiders in the last game ever at Foxboro Stadium, the Patriots seemed to have everything going their way in a 16-13 win.
After Tom Brady – playing in his first career playoff game – had a fumble was overturned late in the fourth quarter, he led the Patriots to the Raider 28 yard line. With 32 seconds to go Adam Vinatieri delivered what is arguably the best kick in NFL history, 45 yards into a driving snow storm, to send the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Patriots took the opening kickoff and Brady led the team 61 yards in 15 plays. This time, it was a much more manageable 23-yard field goal for Vinatieri, who sent the Patriots to the AFC Championship game.
Bruschi’s pick-six vs. Dolphins, 2003
An Adam Vinatieri field goal late in the first quarter was the only score for the majority of this meeting between the Patriots and Dolphins in 2003. But late in the fourth quarter, a Brooks Barnard punt pinned Miami at their own 4-yard line.
On the next play, Tedy Bruschi hid behind defensive end Bobby Hamilton before launching himself into the air to intercept Jay Fiedler. From five yards out, he did his now-famous stroll into the end zone for the only touchdown of the game. The Patriots followed that up with a Jarvis Green safety with a minute to go, securing the 12-0 win.
Normally after a storm, workers clear the stands of snow to make it easier for fans to maneuver around the stadium. But because the snow hit as the game was starting, there was plenty up in the seats. After Bruschi’s pick-six, the fans spent the rest of the game throwing it in the air, turning Gillette Stadium into a full-blown party.
Peyton Manning’s House of Horrors, 2003 & 2004 Playoffs
In the early days of the Patriots Dynasty, the season wasn’t complete until Peyton Manning and the high-flying Colts were grounded by a snowstorm and strong defense in Foxborough. In games that became the marquee examples of the Manning anti-clutch narrative early in his career, New England twice bounced strong Colts teams out of the playoffs in the snow.
In the 2003 AFC Championship Game, Manning completed as many passes to Ty Law (3) as he did to his leading receiver, Marvin Harrison (3). The biggest catch by a Harrison in the end zone belonged to Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who picked Manning off to end a promising opening drive by the Colts.
That game holds significance not just in Patriots history but NFL history as well. A pair of perfectly-timed hits by safety Eugene Wilson on Brandon Stokley and Reggie Wayne led to the Colts requesting a rework of pass interference rules. The ensuing changes opened up the passing game and ushered in a dominant era for pass-heavy teams in the 2000’s and 2010’s.
Even with the new rules, the Patriots were still able to beat the Colts the next year in the 2004 divisional round. After leading 6-3 at half, the Patriots opened the game up late with a pair of scores in the final 17 minutes. Manning managed to hold off any interceptions until the final play this time, but still New England’s defense was too much for the Colts’ then-record-breaking offense. As Gil Santos put it at the time, “They said nobody could stop the Colts. Well, someone just did.”
Also discussed in the podcast are a trio of blowout performances in the snow: a 47-7 win over the Cardinals in 2008, a 59-0 win over the Titans in 2009, and a 36-7 win over the Bears in 2010.
Click here to listen to all Pats Pod episodes with Matt Dolloff and Alex Barth.