By Kevin Saleeba
The Patriots first ever Monday night football game was a 24-17 loss to the Baltimore Colts on November 6, 1972. However, since 2005, the Patriots are 11-2 on Monday night and have a franchise record of 22-22 heading into their game this week against Carolina.
During this forty-plus span of Monday night football, the Patriots have had some great comeback victories, dominant performances, as well as some infamous games.
Whatever kind of game, these are the top 10 most memorable Monday night games involving the Patriots:
HOLDING ON TO PERFECTION
Dec. 3, 1007 – Patriots 27, Ravens 24
10 – The 11-0 Patriots traveled to the 4-7 Baltimore Ravens in danger of losing their quest for a perfect season. With the Patriots trailing 24-20 late in the fourth quarter, it appeared the Patriots lost the game on their final drive after failing to convert on a fourth down play. But a defensive holding call on the Ravens’ rookie safety Jamaine Winbourne kept the drive alive and it set up Tom Brady’s 8-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Jabar Gaffney during that final drive.
After the game, Ravens cornerback Chris MaAlister complained about the holding call. “It's hard to go out there and play the Patriots and the refs at the same time. They put the crown on top of them, they want them to win. They won."
The Patriots went on to finish 16-0 that season, only to lose to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
Sept. 14, 2009 – Patriots 25, Buffalo 24
9 – Tom Brady made his triumphant return to the field one year after blowing out his knee in the first quarter of the first game in 2008. Brady threw two touchdown passes to Ben Watson in a span of 1:16 late in the fourth quarter to give New England a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
PLAY IT SAFE
Nov. 3, 2003 – Patriots 30, Denver 26
8 – Trailing 24-23, the Patriots were backed up on their own one-yard line on fourth down with 2:49 left in the game. Instead of punting, Patriots coach Bill Belichick made an interesting decision. He called for a deliberate safety as long-snapper Lonnie Paxton snapped the ball out of the back of the end zone hitting the upright to give the Broncos a 26-23 lead. The call gave Patriots punter Ken Walter more room to punt because a free kick was rewarded for the safety. Denver went three and out and New England had to drive just 58 yards after getting the ball back with 2:15 left. Tom Brady threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to David Givens with 30 seconds left in the game for a dramatic comeback win.
Sept. 12, 2011 – Patriots 38, Miami 24
7 – Tom Brady kicked off the 2011 season by throwing for a team-record 517 yards and four touchdowns, including a 99-yarder to Wes Welker. It was New England’s eighth consecutive season-opening victory against a Dolphin team that had no chance of stopping Brady.
FIRST NIGHT at GILLETTE
Sept. 9, 2002 – Patriots 30, Pittsburgh 14
6 – The Patriots christened the new Gillette Stadium by unveiling their first championship banner and by clobbering the Steelers 30-14 in the process. Tom Brady threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns to continue their Super Bowl celebration.
MONDAY NIGHT BAN
Sept. 21, 1981 – Dallas 35, Patriots 21
5 – After running back Mosi Tatupu put the Patriots up 21-17 following a 38 yard touchdown run, the Cowboys scored 18 unanswered points to beat the Patriots.
The outcome of the game wasn’t the headline, but the unruly Foxboro fans were. On that Monday night, fans arrived in the afternoon to drink. There were literally hundreds of fights in the stands. Following the game, Monday Night Football was banned from Foxboro by town officials. No other place in the country has ever banned the NFL.
MONDAY NIGHT RETURNS to FOXBORO
Oct. 23, 1995 – Patriots 27, Buffalo 14
4 – Fourteen years after Monday Night football was outlawed in Foxboro, town officials finally lifted the ban and the NFL returned to Foxboro Stadium. The Patriots welcomed back Monday Night football with a victory. Curtis Martin got the scoring started with a 20 yard touchdown run in the first quarter and the Patriots never looked back. Martin finished with 127 yards and Drew Bledsoe threw for 262 yards and a touchdown. The defense sacked Jim Kelly four times, including two from rookie linebacker Willie McGinest.
BRADY’S FAUX PAS
Dec. 20, 2004 – Miami 29, Patriots 28
|Brady's bad pass.
3 – The Patriots had an eleven point lead with three minutes left in the game when the last place Dolphins staged a stunning comeback. After the Dolphins scored on a Sammy Morris one-yard run to get within six points at 2:07, Tom Brady threw one of the ugliest interceptions of his career. The ill-advised hap-hazard throw was forced by Miami’s Jason Taylor who was ripping Brady to the ground as Brady threw the ball up for grabs in the process.
After the turnover, Dolphin’s quarterback A.J. Feeley threw the game-winning score over receiver-turned-defensive back Troy Brown, for a 21-yard touchdown pass to Derrius Thompson on fourth-and-10 with 1:23 left. The game would prove to be just a hiccup in a season that ended with a win in Super Bowl XXXVIII for New England.
BROKEN FINGER VICTORY
Nov. 23, 1998 – Patriots 26, Miami 23
2 – The Dolphins held a 23-19 lead in the final two minutes of the game, and on the Patriots' final possession quarterback Drew Bledsoe broke his right index finger after striking the helmet of lineman Todd Rucci. Bledsoe stayed in the game and was able to hit Shawn Jefferson in the end zone on a 25 yard bomb in the end zone between tight coverage for the go-ahead score with 29 second left in the game.
|Bledsoe in 1995.
Bledsoe finished with 423 yards and two touchdowns in the game. He was able to play the following week with the broken finger, but missed the rest of the season due to the injury.
JOHN LENNON GAME
Dec. 8, 1980 – Miami 16, Patriots 13 (OT)
With three seconds left in the game millions of viewers watched Patriots kicker John Smith run onto the field to get ready for the game-winning field goal at the Orange Bowl in Miami. As Smith prepared himself, announcer Howard Cosell made a memorable announcement:
“Remember, this is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses,” he told the football viewers. “An unspeakable tragedy, confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous, perhaps, of all the Beatles, shot twice in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead … on … arrival. Hard to go back to the game after that news flash, which in duty bound, we have to take.”
Unaware of the news, Smith had his kick blocked sending the game into overtime. The Dolphins scored on the first possession of overtime to win 16-13. The game was just an afterthought as the world mourned the death of a legend.
Kevin Saleeba is the senior editor and columnist for Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinSaleeba