Bill Belichick is figurehead in some of the NFL’s most famous moments from Raiders debacle to Tom Brady’s rise
Bill Belichick was left with only a few words to describe the New England Patriots’ loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday as Chandler Jones intercepted a terrible lateral toss and ran it back for a game-winning touchdown.
The play shocked the NFL world and left fans dumbfounded as they were left to wonder what Jakobi Meyers was doing and why Mac Jones just didn’t throw a Hail Mary in a tie game that everyone thought was going to overtime anyway. Instead, the Raiders pulled off a miraculous comeback victory.
But regardless of whether it’s on the positive or negative side, Belichick has had a knack for always being caught up in some of the most historic moments in football history. It could be the Patriots losing the way they did against the Raiders or guiding Tom Brady to six Super Bowl championships.
Over the last nearly three decades, Belichick has been a figurehead in some of those top moments. Here are some of them that came before Sunday night’s debacle.
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2022: Tom Brady steps away
The seven-time Super Bowl champion announced his departure from the Patriots after 20 seasons in March 2020, and in February 2022, he decided to step away from football. His initial announcement, which didn’t mention the word retirement, thanked the fans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his camp for the years of dedication. He would later write “Love you all” after a message from owner Robert Kraft.
Brady wouldn’t be away from football for long as he would announce his return in March 2022.
2019: The last Super Bowl
Brady and Belichick didn’t lose in the Super Bowl often together. Their three Super Bowl losses came from the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. Their final win came against the Los Angeles Rams – the organization they beat to help launch their dynasty.
The Patriots only needed 13 points to get past the Rams. Brady had 262 passing yards in the game as he and Belichick secured their sixth title and their second in three years.
2018: Miracle in Miami
Before there was whatever happened in Las Vegas on Sunday night, the Miami Dolphins pulled off one of the most shocking plays in recent memory.
The Dolphins were down five points with 7 seconds left when then-quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw a pass to Kenny Stills down the middle of the field. Stills would flip the ball to DeVante Parker who then tossed it to Kenyan Drake. The running back then got a good angle and beat Rob Gronkowski to the goal line for the touchdown.
Miami won, 34-33.
2018: Brady’s offensive onslaught
The Eagles may have gotten the best of Belichick and Brady in Super Bowl LII, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Between a Philly Special and a lot of pressure on the quarterback, Belichick still managed to engineer an offense that saw his quarterback throw for a Super Bowl-record 505 passing yards.
The Eagles won the game, but it wouldn’t be the final time the two legends made an appearance in the Super Bowl.
2018: Patriots QB conundrum
Tom Brady was suspended for four games during the 2016 season over the Deflategate scandal during the 2014-15 AFC Championship Game, which led to Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett starting some games and playing fairly decent in Brady’s absence.
ESPN released a bombshell report in 2018 over the internal power struggle between Kraft, Brady and Belichick and whether the organization should move on from the legendary quarterback. Garoppolo would eventually get traded to the San Francisco 49ers, but the story illustrated some of the cracks in the relationship among the three giant pillars of the Patriots organization.
2017: Brady’s comeback
Belichick was on the sideline to guide the Patriots back from a 28-3 deficit against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. James White had three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime to win the Super Bowl. It was one of the most improbable comebacks that was also sparked by a ridiculous Julian Edelman catch.
Super Bowl LI will forever be remembered, especially if Matt Ryan keeps blowing leads.
2012: The Butt Fumble
Obviously, Belichick wasn’t directly involved with the infamous Mark Sanchez play when the New York Jets took on the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving night in 2012. But he was on the sideline coaching the Patriots in the lopsided affair.
Sanchez scrambled and ran into the butt of offensive lineman Brandon Moore, causing the fumble. Patriots safety Steven Gregory picked up the ball and scored a touchdown. The Jets lost three fumbles that night.
The play will forever go down in history as one of the biggest head-scratchers in NFL history.
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2012: Mario Manningham Super Bowl catch
Four years later, the Patriots went 13-3 and found themselves facing the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Manning again would need to bring some magic to beat the Patriots and did just that.
Mario Manningham had one of the most spectacular catches in the Super Bowl, and adding insult to injury was a Wes Welker drop that would’ve put pressure on New York in the fourth quarter.
The Giants held off the Patriots’ final drive and won the game, 21-7.
2008: David Tyree helmet catch
One Giant loss may not have been without some improbable plays. Eli Manning’s pass with a handful of Patriots defenders on him to David Tyree was one of the more spectacular plays in Super Bowl history. And Belichick was there watching it all.
Tyree managed to bring the ball back down over Rodney Harrison and Manning followed up with the go-ahead touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress.
The Patriots nearly won the game on the following drive. It was the first loss in a Super Bowl for Belichick and for Brady.
2007: Patriots undefeated regular season
There have only been two undefeated regular seasons in NFL history – the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the 2007 Patriots. Belichick’s team had a potent offense behind Brady and Randy Moss and finished the season first in points scored and yards gained.
The Patriots looked unstoppable until they ran into the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Though the Dolphins are the only team to finish an entire season without a blemish on their record, the Patriots completed their feat with more teams and more parity in the league as a whole.
They are the last team to accomplish the feat.
The Spygate cheating scandal appeared to be a blemish on Belichick’s resume – but that was also about 15 years ago. The Patriots were caught videotaping Jets coaches’ defensive signals from an unauthorized location during a 2007 game.
Belichick received the largest fine ever levied on a coach in history — $500,000. And the team was fined $250,000 as well as getting a draft pick taken away.
2004: Patriots dynasty
Belichick would win three of his six Super Bowl titles within the first five years at the helm. With Brady, an all-time great defense and solid receivers, New England managed to knock off the St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles to win those titles.
Belichick was on top of the world and already considered to be an NFL coaching legend.
2002: Tuck Rule Game
In the middle of a driving snowstorm in Foxborough, Belichick again would be involved in some major history on his way to his first Super Bowl title.
Brady would be hit hard by Oakland Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson and the ball would be jarred loose and recovered by Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert. However, the rules at the time determined that Brady was trying to tuck the ball back into his body and the play was ruled as an incomplete pass.
New England moved into field goal range and Adam Vinatieri would kick the game-winning field goal to send the Patriots to the AFC Championship Game.
2001: Brady for Bledsoe
The Patriots were 5-11 in their first season under Belichick. Drew Bledsoe already knew what it took to get to the Super Bowl, having been there during the 1996 season, losing to the Green Bay Packers. But in the 2001 season, he was hurt and sidelined in the second week. Brady would be thrust into the starting role.
Brady and New England went 11-5 and won the Super Bowl over the St. Louis Rams — who were known at the time as the “Greatest Show on Turf.” It was the first of three Super Bowl titles for the Belichick and Brady dynasty from 2001 to 2004. The team wouldn’t win another until the 2014 season.
The decision to stick with Brady altered the trajectory of all parties involved in the NFL as a whole.
2000: Belichick snubs Jets
Belichick was initially named the interim head coach of the Jets while the team negotiated a way to get Bill Parcells over from the Patriots in 1997. Once the deal was completed, Belichick stepped aside for Parcells and became the team’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
Parcells stepped down after the 1999 season with Belichick already slated to become the next head coach of the Jets. He would be announced as the next Jets head coach in January 2000 but a day after he would resign.
Belichick turned around was named the next head coach of the Patriots and received a ton of control over the roster and his coaching staff.
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1996: Last coach of the old Browns
Belichick served under Parcells with the Giants for several years before he was awarded the position of head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He was the coach of the Browns from 1991-1995, leading them to one playoff appearance at the time.
Then-owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore and became the Ravens before the 1996 season. The move sent shock waves across the NFL, drawing so much ire that the Ravens franchise had to leave their past behind in Cleveland and start anew.
Modell fired Belichick in February 1996. Peyton Manning would later detail what Belichick did to try and get back at Modell.
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