It’s been a while.
The New England Patriots have been one of the NFL’s model franchises in the 21st century, at least as far as winning is concerned. For basically two decades, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady laid waste to the AFC East, the AFC in general and normally to whoever they met in the Super Bowl.
That duo claimed six Super Bowl rings together, but they aren’t together anymore in 2020. New England already was eliminated from the playoffs in Week 15, and a loss on Monday night in Week 16 would guarantee a losing season for the Pats, too.
Here’s a quick look back at the last time both of those things happened.
Last time Patriots missed the playoffs
New England made the playoffs following every season from 2009-2019, a streak of 11 years. The Pats last missed the postseason following the 2008 season despite an 11-5 record, making them just the second team in the modern era to miss the playoffs with an 11-5 record.
That year, Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, so New England relied on Matt Cassel at quarterback. That big loss didn’t stop the Patriots from winning their final four games to try and make the postseason. New England lost a divisional tiebreaker to the Dolphins and a wild card tiebreaker to the Ravens.
The Patriots missed the playoffs two other times since 2000, both in 2002 (9-7 record) and 2000 (5-11 record).
Last Patriots losing season
The Patriots haven’t had a losing record since 2000, when they went 5-11. Every year from 2001 to 2019, New England finished above .500.
What do 2000 and 2020 have in common? The Patriots didn’t hand a single start to Brady. Drew Bledsoe was the New England starter in all 16 games in 2000, while Brady played one game off the bench in his rookie season and completed 1-of-3 passes.
Bledsoe wasn’t terrible in that 2000 season, but the Patriots didn’t have a running game to speak of. Kevin Faulk ran for a team-high 570 yards.
Notable names on the Patriots’ staff in that 2000 losing season were Charlie Weis (offensive coordinator), Brian Daboll (defensive assistant), Eric Mangini (defensive backs coach) and Rob Ryan (linebackers coach).
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