By Brendon Rosenau, Patriots Daily Staff
In light of recent media conversation, it’s appropriate that this week’s look back is at the 2006 New England Patriots. There was much discussion on the airwaves about Dan Dierdorf’s comment on Sunday that this season may be Bill Belichick’s best coaching job. While the merits of that statement will not be fully known for another month, one thing that is a fact, is that in 2006, Belichick did a superb job of guiding an underwhelming team to a fourth straight division title and a third AFC title game in four years. In 2006, New England went 12-4 won its fourth straight division title and allowed a franchise record 14.8 points per game.
2006 will be remembered for two things, Troy Brown’s forced fumble against San Diego and the Pats blowing a 21-3 lead to Indy in the title game. Surely, the Patriots would’ve exacted revenge on Chicago in the Super Bowl for a fourth ring, but it was not to be. Here is what you need to be reminded of in 2006: Reche Caldwell was the teams top receiver. Aside from Troy Brown the receiving corps featured the immortal Doug Gabriel, Bam Childress, Chad Jackson and Kelvin Kight. Jabar Gaffney was signed off the street and become the teams top receiver in the playoffs. Before the season started the Patriots lost championship contributors Adam Vinatieri, Willie McGinest, David Givens and Deion Branch. That’s a total of 10 Super Bowl rings, two Super Bowl game winning kicks and one Super Bowl MVP. What were the chances New England would be a Super Bowl contender?
However, the Patriots would find ways to win all season long. They blew out a talented Cincinnati team in Week Four, lit up Minnesota on a Monday night, smoked the Packers in Green Bay and ended the season with wins at Jacksonville and Tennessee. The final game, though, would be a costly win as Rodney Harrison was injured and lost for the remainder of the season.
In the playoffs New England opened against Eric Mangini and spanked the Jets 37-16 to avenge a home loss – the last game played on grass in Foxboro, and send Man-Genius to the golf course.
The next week New England went into San Diego to take on the 14-2 Chargers. A team led by the league’s MVP, nine Pro Bowlers, five All Pros and a cast of obnoxious characters. New England trailed 14-3 with two minutes to play in the second before Tom Brady engineered a perfect two-minute drill that resulted in a Gaffney 6-yard TD catch. In the fourth the Chargers went up 21-13 and when Brady was picked by Marlon McCree all hope seemed lost. Brown made an excellent football play, stripped McCree and Caldwell recovered. Caldwell then caught a touchdown pass and Kevin Faulk’s 2-point conversion tied the game. The N.E. defense forced a punt and Gostkowski was true on a 31-yard field goal with 2:16 to play. S.D. then missed a 50+ yard field to tie the game which resulted in the Pats celebrating on the Chargers lightning bolt at midfield.
What were your memories from 2006? Was this Belichick’s best coaching job? Remember the draft day buzz about getting Chad Jackson?
Merry Christmas to all.
- Tom Brady 3,529 yards (7th in NFL), 24 TD (T-4th), 87.9 rating (9th)
- Corey Dillon 812 yards, 13 TD (4th)
- Laurence Maroney 745 yards, 6 TD
- Reche Caldwell 61 catches, 760 yards 4 TD
- Tedy Bruschi 113 tackles
- Asante Samuel 10 INT (T 1st)
- Rosevelt Colvin 8.5 sacks
- Ty Warren 7.5 sacks
Richard Seymour (RDE),
Matt Light (LT), Seymour,