Those 47 points were the most allowed by a Bill Belichick-led team in his playoff career and that 30-point margin of defeat was the third-highest in franchise history. And that was just the tip of the iceberg of how one-sided this playoff head-to-head was. The Bills scored touchdowns on all seven of their competitive drives (minus kneeldowns), becoming the first team in the Super Bowl era to not punt, attempt a field goal or commit a turnover in a playoff game. Josh Allen also had more touchdowns (5) than he did incompletions (4).
This was a night that the Patriots will want to forget almost instantly and did strike up the thought about where this may rank among other painful losses during the Belichick era. Because New England has previously played in more high-stakes games deeper in the playoffs, this loss doesn’t fall inside the top five worst postseason defeats for the Patriots but may come close to our honorable mention.
Below, you can find the top five worst losses for the Patriots under Belichick.
1. Super Bowl XLII loss to Giants
Not exactly a shocker to see atop this list. The Patriots were on the doorstep of an undefeated season in 2007 and set to become the first team to ever go 19-0 when they faced the New York Giants. Had they been able to win that game, they would have been considered the greatest team in NFL history. However, Eli Manning and David Tyree had different plans as they spoiled New England’s chances of immortality with a 17-14 victory in one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history. While everyone remembers Tyree’s helmet catch, Tom Brady’s miraculous touchdown drive that culminated with a touchdown pass to Randy Moss flies under the radar in history. Had the Patriots pulled it out, it’d likely be considered one of the best Super Bowl scoring drives ever. Ask any Patriots fan and this is the game they’d want back.
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2. Super Bowl LII loss to Eagles
This game will forever be masked with questions surrounding Malcolm Butler, who was benched for the entirety of the game on defense, despite being one of the team’s top corners. A historic showing from Brady — who threw for 505 yards and three touchdowns — was wasted with the Patriots’ defense being unable to stop Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles in the 41-33 shootout loss. To finish the game, Philadelphia scored points on its final five drives. While nobody knows if Butler’s presence in the secondary would have made a difference, the wound of this loss and the lack of transparency as to why he wasn’t at least given a chance to play still stings around New England.
3. Super Bowl XLVI loss to Giants
You can make the case that this should be No. 2 above the Eagles’ loss. At that point, getting revenge against New York after spoiling the undefeated season was palpable for the Patriots. However, similar to Super Bowl XLII, Manning and the Giants just continued to have New England’s number in the 21-17 victory. The Patriots did have opportunities to win — including a dropped pass by Wes Welker that would have opened the door for the team to simply run out the clock — but were unable to capitalize. After that loss, it did feel like the Patriots may never hoist the Lombardi Trophy again.
4. 2006 AFC Championship Game loss to Colts
This one got worse as the playoffs went on. New England had a 21-point lead over Peyton Manning’s Colts and Indy was ultimately able to chip away and mount the comeback to pull off a thrilling 38-34 win. This Patriots team was truly carried by Brady, who had Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney as his top receiving options. That said, had New England held on, it would have faced Rex Grossman and the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl, which could have proved to be its easiest opponent for that entire playoff run and given the franchise its fourth title in six years.
5. 2015 AFC Championship Game loss to Broncos
This 20-18 loss to the Broncos was New England’s undoing. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point in the first quarter and that lost point did prove to be consequential as the game went on. On the final drive of the game for the Patriots, Brady and Rob Gronkowski connected on two fourth-down conversions, including a 4-yard touchdown to bring them within two points with just 12 seconds remaining. Because of Gostkowski’s missed extra point, they needed to go for the 2-point conversion to potentially force overtime and that attempt to Julian Edelman fell incomplete. Denver then went on to beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
Honorable mention: 2009 wild card loss to Ravens
This has a very similar feel to the Patriots’ latest loss to the Bills. On the first play of the game, Baltimore running back Ray Rice ripped off an 83-yard touchdown that had the Patriots trailing instantly. The Ravens would then drop 24 points in the first quarter alone and went into the halftime locker room up by 21 points en route to a 33-14 victory. From there, the game was effectively over and the Patriots were booed off the field.