The Patriots ended their improbable 2001 season in unforgettable fashion, getting a last-second field goal from kicker Adam Vinatieri to upset the heavily favored St. Louis Rams 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI.
2 of 10Bill Kostroun, Jim Rogash/AP
A Week 17 win over Miami wasn't enough to get the 9-7 Pats into the playoffs, as New England lost out on a tiebreaker to the AFC East champ Jets.
3 of 10Al Tielemans, John W. McDonough/SI
New England returned to prominence with another Super Bowl championship in the 2003 season. Vinatieri was the hero again, making a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left to give the Patriots a 32-29 win over the Panthers.
4 of 10Al Tielemans/SI; Mike Blake/Reuters
Brady and Co. made it two titles in a row and three championships out of four in 2004, beating the Donovan McNabb-led Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.
5 of 10Brian Bahr, Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The Patriots won the AFC East with a 10-6 record but turned in an absolutely miserable performance in the divisional round in Denver, turning the ball over five times to fall to the Broncos 27-13. The game was the first postseason loss of the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era.
6 of 10Amy Sancetta/AP
The Patriots jumped out to a 21-3 first half lead at Indianapolis but couldn't hold on, giving up 32 points in the second half to fall to Peyton Manning and the Colts 38-34. The comeback is still the largest in conference championship history.
7 of 10Damian Strohmeyer(2), John Biever, Michael O'Neill/SI; David Goldman/SI Imaging
Little-known Giants wide receiver David Tyree stunned the country -- and spoiled the Patriots' bid at a perfect season -- with his miraculous fourth quarter "helmet catch" to set up Eli Manning's Super Bowl-winning touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress. The massive 17-14 upset was the last time New England made the Super Bowl.
8 of 10Jim Davis/AP; Elsa/Getty Images
Backup quarterback Matt Cassel led the Patriots to an 11-5 record after Tom Brady went down for the season in Week 1, but the team didn't make the playoffs, losing out on tiebreakers to Miami and Baltimore.
9 of 10Charles Krupa/AP
The Pats won the AFC East title with a 10-6 record but couldn't get by Baltimore in the opening round of the playoffs, committing three first-quarter turnovers to lose 33-14
10 of 10David Bergman/SI
New England finished the regular season with a league-best 14-2 record only to fall in their playoff opener for the second consecutive season, losing to AFC East rival Jets 28-21.
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