Top 5 Plays of the 2013 New England Patriots Season
The New England Patriots had one of their most exciting seasons in 2013 since going 18-1 in 2007. Yes, there have been plenty of great games since then, but never have they come so often and after so many significant injuries.
Almost every game came down to the fourth quarter, if not the final play of the game, and there were plenty of big plays that sealed wins, ignited rallies or were just plain outstanding football.
Regardless of the Patriots' fate in the playoffs, the roller coaster of big wins, big injuries and close losses from September to December was as thrilling and fun as a football fan could hope for.
Here's a look back at the best plays of the season that made the 2013 Patriots the special team that they were.
Talib Stands out in 4th-Down Stop vs. Falcons
One of the biggest problems that has haunted the Patriots since 2006 was their inability to close out games on defense.
In the 2006 AFC Championship, Super Bowl XLII, Super Bowl XLVI and quite a few other regular-season games, the Pats could not get that one last stop to preserve a win.
But in Week 4, the defense came through, and the Pats got a hard-earned victory in Atlanta, with Aqib Talib breaking up this pass on fourth down to close out the Falcons.
This was a signature play from Talib and one that proved he was playing some of the best football we've seen out of a Patriots cornerback since the days of Ty Law. Talib would battle a hip injury toward the middle of the season, but has bounced back to form and has been one of the biggest keys to the Patriots' defensive resurgence in 2013.
Without Talib, the Pats might not have been able to overcome the losses of so many key defenders. His work against the top opposing target each week whether it was a receiver like A.J. Green or a tight end like Charles Clay, Talib was Bill Belichick's key pass defender in 2013, and this was his biggest play.
Blount's 35-Yard Scamper Seals the Season
You can take your pick of big plays by LeGarrette Blount in the season finale. Along with this 35-yard touchdown run, he had kickoff returns of 83 and 62 yards and another touchdown run of 36 yards.
We're going with this one because it put the Patriots back up by two touchdowns and essentially sealed the final game of the season and a record-setting performance for Blount.
It was also the perfect cap to one of the craziest seasons in Patriots history, and what better way to go out than with a performance for the ages in the rain that wrapped up the second seed and a playoff bye.
Edelman Dives for the Comeback Lead vs. Broncos
The Pats trailed the Broncos 24-0 at halftime before storming back in the third quarter with three touchdowns. As inept as the Pats looked during the first half, the tables completely turned in the second half, and the Pats were dominating the Broncos as much as they had previously been dominated.
It's rare that two halves are such polar opposites.
Unlike 2012's comeback against the San Francisco 49ers, the Patriots would not fall short against the Broncos. Julian Edelman's 14-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady early in the fourth quarter gave the Pats their first lead of the day.
His spectacular dive into the end zone served as an exclamation point on an incredible comeback in a huge game between AFC powers.
This was the biggest touchdown of the season for Edelman and was one of the signature moments of his breakout year.
Onsides Kick Sets Up Miracle Comeback over Browns
There were quite a few miracle wins in 2013, but the Patriots' comeback against the Cleveland Browns was a total team effort and perhaps the most impressive.
A touchdown by Jordan Cameron put the Browns up 26-14 with just 2:39 remaining and looked like it would seal the game, but Tom Brady was far from done.
Brady responded with an 11-play, 82-yard drive that closed the score to 26-21 with a two-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman.
With just over a minute left, the Pats had to recover an onsides kick to get one more shot at a touchdown.
After a great kick by Stephen Gostkowski rolled perfectly down the middle and Kyle Arrington recovered it, the Pats were set up for the game-winning drive.
The Patriots had not recovered an onside kick in a win since 1964.
A 10-yard pass to Danny Amendola and a 29-yard pass interference penalty later, and the Pats would finish things off with a two-yard touchdown pass to Amendola. The defense would do just enough on the final possession to force a 58-yard field-goal attempt by the Browns that would fall short.
In a season full of miracle wins, won by both the offense and defense, this was one where special teams came through in the clutch.
Brady to Thompkins Beats the Saints
When Tom Brady's career is over with, this is one of the signature plays that they'll show at his Hall of Fame induction.
The Patriots were at a crossroads coming into the Week 6 matchup with the Saints. They were coming off an ugly loss to the Cincinnati Bengals that saw them score just six points, preventing Tom Brady from a chance at breaking Drew Brees' record for consecutive games with a touchdown.
The Pats had lost Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly in the previous two games and would lose Jerod Mayo in the fourth quarter of this one. They also were still without Rob Gronkowski.
If ever there was a time for the Patriots to start feeling bad for themselves and pack it in, this was the game.
Tom Brady was intercepted with 2:16 remaining in the game, with the Patriots down four points. It looked like that would seal the Pats' second straight loss of the season, but the defense forced a three-and-out, giving Brady one last chance with 1:13 remaining at his own 30-yard line and no timeouts.
Seven plays later, with just :10 seconds remaining, Brady launched this game-winning touchdown that set the tone for the rest of the season.
It was one of the most unbelievable comebacks of Brady's career and the signature moment of the 2013 season.
Despite injuries, huge point deficits and little time left on the clock, the 2013 Pats never stopped fighting, and these five plays show just how hard they were to beat and how many clutch plays they managed to come up with.
Check out GIFs of all five of these plays here!