Pats' win streak ends at 21

Game-by-game look at the Patriots' 21-game win streak, which ended Sunday.

Originally Published: October 24, 2004
ESPN.com

Editor's note: Below is a game-by-game look at the Patriots record 21-game winning streak using commentary from ESPN.com writers where available, ESPN.com's wrap-up grid and AP recaps. The streak was ended Sunday by the Steelers.

No. 22: Steelers 34, Patriots 20 -- Oct. 31, 2004

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AP on Patriots Week 8 loss to the Steelers
So much for a perfect week in New England sports, the Patriots' chances for a perfect season and the longest winning streaks in NFL history.

Ben Roethlisberger, a rookie quarterback who seemingly doesn't know how to lose, drove the Steelers to four scores following uncharacteristic New England turnovers and Pittsburgh ended the Patriots' two long winning streaks with a remarkably easy 34-20 victory Sunday.

The Patriots had won 21 straight counting the playoffs and a league-record 18 in a row in the regular season, but were all but out of this one after Roethlisberger -- still unbeaten as an NFL starter -- threw two touchdown passes to Plaxico Burress in the first quarter.

No. 21: Patriots 13, Jets 7 -- Oct. 24, 2004

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AP on Patriots Week 7 win over the Jets
The New England Patriots needed a big play to keep their record winning streak alive. They got it from a familiar place: the defense.

Rodney Harrison broke up a fourth-down pass from Chad Pennington with 2:14 remaining, and the Patriots held on to extend their NFL victory streak to 21 games in a 13-7 win over the AFC East rival New York Jets.

The Patriots also set the regular-season mark of 18 straight wins, surpassing the 17 won by the 1933-34 Chicago Bears.

No. 20: Patriots 30, Seahawks 20 -- Oct. 17, 2004

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AP on Patriots Week 6 win over the Seahawks
The New England Patriots got another victory -- but quite a scare -- as they extended their NFL record for consecutive wins.

They stopped a late Seattle comeback to beat the Seahawks 30-20 Sunday, running their streak to 20 wins, including playoffs. They also tied the league record with their 17th consecutive regular-season victory.

No. 19: Patriots 24, Dolphins 10 -- Oct. 10, 2004

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Michael Smith on Patriots Week 5 win over the Dolphins
The Patriots will get back to being all business this week, but for a little while, with permission, they let it all soak in. Belichick congratulated his players on the sideline and in the postgame locker room, and acknowledged the fans as he left the field. It was only a matter of time (read: once the record was the Patriots') before Belichick, a football historian, would do the same with the streak.

"That felt good," Belichick said after the game. "I told our team that I was really proud of what they did -- that I felt they should be proud of what they accomplished and that no other team in pro football has done that." Click here for complete column.
-- Michael Smith

No. 18: Patriots 31, Bills 17 -- Oct. 3, 2004

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Michael Smith on Patriots' win over Bills
On the road, the momentum and most of the crowd against them, and trailing their division rivals by seven points, the Patriots responded to the challenge with a tying touchdown right before halftime, serving notice to the Bills that it would take more than a couple of early shots to knock out the champs.

Twice in the fourth quarter, the Bills, down seven, needed to man up and deliver the same message. Whoops. Miscommunication.

That pretty much says it all about New England's record-tying 18-game win streak (including postseason play), extended Sunday with a 31-17 victory secured when Richard Seymour rumbled 68 yards to the end zone with a Drew Bledsoe fumble. When it's time to make or break, the Patriots make their breaks, while their opponents repeatedly make costly mistakes. Click here for complete column.
-- Michael Smith



No. 17: Patriots 23, Cardinals 12 -- Sept. 19, 2004

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IT WAS OVER WHEN... GAME BALL GOES TO...
Josh McCown's pass was incomplete on 4th-and-10 from the Cardinals' own 22 with just over 2:30 left. The Patriots took over and were able to run out the clock. Corey Dillon. Dillon was the workhorse the Pats envisioned, rushing for 158 yards on 32 carries.

ERIC ALLEN'S ANALYSIS: The Patriots have a chance to get those two wins (and get to 19 straight) because of the coaching staff. Often teams will experience a hangover of sorts after winning the Super Bowl. That won't happen to the Patriots because the coaching staff won't allow it.



No. 16: Patriots 27, Colts 24 -- Sept. 9, 2004

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Michael Smith on Patriots' win over Colts
There's a saying about assuming that isn't quite suitable for print. But it's beginning to approach the point, after Mike Vanderjagt missed wide right to cap yet another Colts loss to the Patriots, where it's a safe bet Indianapolis will find a way to kick itself against New England. The Colts have lost five straight in the series, eight in a row at Foxboro, and 13 of 15 to the Pats since 1996.

Around these parts, the word "curse" comes to mind. But there isn't anything mysterious about why the Colts haven't been able to overcome the Patriots, even on occasions when the Super Bowl champions graciously offer their assistance. Whenever Indianapolis plays New England, it seems the Colts are battling themselves. Click here for complete column.
-- Michael Smith



No. 15: Patriots 32, Panthers 29 -- Feb. 1, 2004

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Len Pasquarelli on Patriots' Super Bowl win
The most notable performer on a championship team that might possess one of the lowest collective profiles of any two-time Super Bowl winner, Tom Brady demonstrated again why, if he doesn't yet rate a spot among the great quarterbacks in NFL history, he certainly ranks with the top clutch players in title game annals.

For the second time in three seasons, Brady engineered a late-game sequence that set up a winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri. For the second time, his Pats teammates expected no less from the four-year veteran, with linebacker Ted Johnson suggesting there might soon be a statue of the quarterback erected in downtown Boston. Click here for complete column.
-- Len Pasquarelli



No. 14: Patriots 24, Colts 14 -- Jan. 18, 2004

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Len Pasquarelli on Patriots' AFC championship win
There is a reason Bill Belichick is regarded as the preeminent defensive innovator of this NFL generation and, in the Patriots' 24-14 victory over the Colts in the AFC championship game here Sunday afternoon, it was again on display. Against an Indianapolis offense that had scored 79 points in two playoff wins, and with quarterback Peyton Manning performing as if he had perhaps invented the forward pass, Belichick unveiled his latest masterstroke design.

And demonstrated once again that, in big games, no one can go grease a board and draw up X's quite like he can.

As a result, the Patriots will return to the championship game for the second time in three years, the first AFC franchise to advance to three Super Bowls in the salary-cap era. It marked the 14th consecutive victory for New England and, from the outset, the Patriots were not only the better of the two teams, but also the one clearly on a mission. Click here for complete column.
-- Len Pasquarelli



No. 13: Patriots 17, Titans 14 -- Jan. 10, 2004

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Greg Garber on Patriots' divisional win over Titans
There was no snow this time, no Lonnie Paxton swishing snow angels in the end zone, no -- thank the Lord for small favors -- revisit of the Tuck Rule.

It was the coldest game in 43 seasons of New England Patriots football -- a frigid 4 degrees, with a wind-chill factor of -10. At halftime, they showed a blazing fire on the big screen at Gillette Stadium and played "Baby, It's Cold Outside." By the time the game was decided, and Jeff Fisher's moustache had become completely iced over, it was hovering around zero.

Still, no one was cooler than Tom Brady.

With glacial calm, he guided the Patriots to a 17-14 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Saturday night's AFC divisional playoff game. In a game that featured a dozen plays that could well have altered the outcome, a simple 4-yard pass from Brady to wide receiver Troy Brown was probably the biggest. Click here for complete column.
-- Greg Garber



No. 12: Patriots 31, Bills 0 -- Dec. 27, 2003

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AP on Patriots Week 17 win over the Bills
The New England Patriots secured the top seed in the AFC playoffs -- and avenged an embarrassing loss to the Buffalo Bills.

In a game of strange coincidences, the Patriots won 31-0 Saturday behind Tom Brady's four scoring passes in the first half and the defense's third shutout in four home games.

That was the score of Buffalo's win over New England in the season opener. In both games, the winner stopped the opponent's final play from the 1-yard line to preserve the shutout. And Brady rebounded from his four-interception disaster in the opener.



No. 11: Patriots 21, Jets 16 -- Dec. 20, 2003

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AP on Patriots Week 16 win over the Jets
The New England Patriots can thank their defense for wrapping up their 11th straight win.

Willie McGinest returned an interception for a score and the Patriots picked off Chad Pennington four other times, keying a 21-16 victory Saturday night. Tom Brady also threw two touchdown passes to David Givens, but the offense struggled most of the game, keeping the Jets in it until the end.

With Kansas City's loss earlier in the day, the Patriots (13-2) now have the best record in the NFL. If the Indianapolis Colts lose Sunday to Denver, the Patriots would clinch a first-round bye.



No. 10: Patriots 27, Jaguars 13 -- Dec. 14, 2003

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IT WAS OVER WHEN... GAME BALL GOES TO...
Tyrone Poole picked off Byron Leftwich for a second time to set up Antowain Smith's scoring run for a 27-6 lead. Tom Brady. Not a spectacular day, but still managed two touchdown passes and no interceptions in guiding the Pats to their 10th straight win.
ERIC ALLEN'S ANALYSIS: The Patriots have all the pieces in place for another Super Bowl run. The defense is playing well and QB Tom Brady finds ways to win wherever he plays. The Pats are definitely the No. 1 team in the AFC.



No. 9: Patriots 12, Dolphins 0 -- Dec. 7, 2003

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IT WAS OVER WHEN... GAME BALL GOES TO...
Tedy Bruschi returned a Jay Fiedler interception five yards for a touchdown, putting the Pats up 10-0 in the fourth quarter. Patriots defense. Recorded five sacks and two interceptions and accounted for nine (TD and safety) of New England's 12 points.
ERIC ALLEN'S ANALYSIS: The Patriots threw a shutout in their version of the frozen tundra. This team consistently puts itself in a position to win and Sunday was no different.



No. 8: Patriots 38, Colts 34 -- Nov. 30, 2003

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IT WAS OVER WHEN... GAME BALL GOES TO...
Willie McGinest stuffed Edgerrin James on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line with 14 seconds left in the game. The Patriots took over and ran out the clock. Bethel Johnson. The rookie had a huge day returning kickoffs. He had a 92-yard return for a touchdown as time expired in the first half and a 67-yard return in the 4th that set up the Pats winning touchdown.
ERIC ALLEN'S ANALYSIS: What a great football game! Two great QBs with different styles leading their teams downfield is what football is all about. Patriots QB Tom Brady doesn't get enough credit and with the way he's winning he looks like the new Brett Favre.



No. 7: Patriots 23, Texans 20 OT -- Nov. 23, 2003

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IT WAS OVER WHEN... GAME BALL GOES TO...
Adam Vinatieri's 28-yard field goal sailed through the uprights in overtime. Vinatieri had a 37-yard field goal attempt blocked earlier in OT. Kevin Faulk. Had a huge all-around game for the Patriots, rushing for 80 yards on 23 carries and catching eight passes for 108 yards.
ERIC ALLEN'S ANALYSIS: The Texans played a great game and gave the Patriots all they could handle. But the Patriots did what was expected of them and pulled off the victory. That's the mark of a good football team.



No. 6: Patriots 12, Cowboys 0 -- Nov. 16, 2003

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IT WAS OVER WHEN... GAME BALL GOES TO...
Adam Vinatieri booted a 26-yard field goal with under two minutes left to put the Patriots up 12-0. Patriots defense. Intercepted Quincy Carter three times and pitched their first shout out of the 2003 season.
ERIC ALLEN'S ANALYSIS: People talked about this being the battle of the Bills. But in reality it was the battle of two excellent defenses. The Cowboys lost because the Patriots have better personnel and took advantage when the Cowboys made mistakes.



No. 5: Patriots 30, Broncos 26 -- Nov. 3, 2003

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John Clayton on Patriots' win over Broncos on MNF
If this were chess, Bill Belichick made the moves to put Mike Shanahan into check and checkmate.

No doubt, Belichick removed any debate whether he was the NFL's first-half coach of the year with the strategies employed during Monday night's amazing 30-26 victory over the Broncos.

Here were the Patriots, trailing 24-23, with 2:51 remaining in regulation. The ball was at the Patriots' 1-yard line and Tom Brady had just failed on three pass attempts out of the end zone. Belichick made his decision clear to his special teams on the sidelines: Snap a safety and give the Broncos two points.

Call it the decision of the season to date. Belichick traded two points for the field position that later enabled Brady to hit David Givens with a 18-yard game-winning touchdown pass with 30 seconds left. Click here for complete column.
--John Clayton



No. 4: Patriots 9, Browns 3 -- Oct. 26, 2003

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IT WAS OVER WHEN... GAME BALL GOES TO...
Ty Law picked off a Kelly Holcomb pass with just over one minute to play. The Patriots took over and ran out the clock. Mike Vrabel. Defense carried the Patriots and it was Vrabel who led the way with three sacks.
ERIC ALLEN'S ANALYSIS: The Patriots are moving along and beating whoever is on their schedule. They're doing a great job incorporating the deep ball into their offense and are on pace for a run to the division title.



No. 3: Patriots 19, Dolphins 13 OT -- Oct. 19, 2003

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IT WAS OVER WHEN... GAME BALL GOES TO...
Tom Brady connected with Troy Brown on an 82-yard TD in overtime to win it for the Patriots. Richard Seymour. Brown might have scored the winning TD, but Seymour was huge, including blocking a FG with under two minutes in regulation that could have won it for Miami.
ERIC ALLEN'S ANALYSIS: This is a disappointing loss for the Dolphins. Their defense played well, but they weren't able to make plays when it counted. For the Patriots, they are making the plays when they count and are winning tough games because of it.



No. 2: Patriots 17, Giants 6 -- Oct. 12, 2003

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IT WAS OVER WHEN... GAME BALL GOES TO...
Eugene Wilson picked off a Kerry Collins pass with under one minute left in the game. The Pats then ran out the clock. Patriots defense. On a day when the offense struggled, the defense had four interceptions and returned a Tiki Barber fumble for a TD.
ERIC ALLEN'S ANALYSIS: The New England defense came through big for this team. It created turnovers and gave the team good field position. A big-play defense can cover up a team's problems and this week the Patriots defense proved it.



No. 1: Patriots 38, Titans 30 -- Oct. 5, 2003

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IT WAS OVER WHEN... GAME BALL GOES TO...
Christian Fauria recovered Tennessee's onside kick with under one minute left. Mike Cloud and Antowain Smith. The Pats rushed for 161 yards as a team. Cloud, in his first game, rushed for 73 and Smith had 80 yards and a TD.
ERIC ALLEN'S ANALYSIS: The play of the game was Ty Law's interception return for the touchdown. What a play! He did exactly what he was supposed to do. He stepped back and read the route perfectly and made the play.

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