The 1996 New England Patriots team was very special. They could be considered the ones that started a football revolution here in New England. They added another brick to the foundation of a future football dynasty that Bob Kraft, Bill Parcells, and Drew Bledsoe were working on since 1994.
This ensemble included future dynasty members such as Tedy Bruschi, Adam Vinatieri, Ted Johnson, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, and Troy Brown. Being a season ticket holder since 1994, I grew up with these players. I saw their careers develop right before my eyes at my bench seats in Foxboro stadium and the future Gillette Stadium. How many people can say they saw the birth and maturation of a Dynasty?
The 1996 season was monumental point in Patriots History. It started as most seasons did in the late 80’s and 90’s, SLOW. The Patriots started off 0-2 but won 10 of their next 13 games going to a hostile Giants Stadium. The Patriots needed this game to hold on to the division lead over the Buffalo Bills.
I remember being stuck helping my dad fix the furnace during this game. I left the TV on and had the volume blaring. I faked numerous bathroom breaks to check the score. I couldn’t believe they were getting smoked 22-0 in the first half. I was dejected. Would they even make the playoffs?
The TV stayed on. The comeback began. My Dad was looking for me all over the house. Meggett ran a punt back to cut the lead to 22-17. I was going crazy, but could they win it?!?!
Troy Brown made a catch laying on his back on the final drive. This was one of a dozen plays that Brown made that changed Patriots history over his career. He is a true Patriot through and through. Selfless and team first. If any player would be considered a role model (parents should be role models first), Troy Brown should. Needless to say, the Patriots pulled off the comeback 23-22 with a Bledsoe to Ben Coates strike. The playoffs were on the horizon.
My friends and I amassed at my buddy’s house in Melrose to watch the Broncos-Jags game. We all figured the Broncos were a shoe in. The Pats playoffs hopes will be probably dashed in Denver the following week. Someone forgot to tell Marc Brunell that! Jags win 30-27. Pats win and AFC championship will be at Foxboro with me in attendance! Holy S%&$!
The stars all aligned. The Patriots dismantled the Steelers in the fog bowl. I remember you couldn’t see a thing between the fog and smoke from the pyrotechnics. However, I did get to see rookie wideout sensation, Terry Glenn’s acrobatic catch at the goal line leading to the 28-3 victory. Bring on the Jags!!
I remember that day like it was yesterday. It was friggin' freezing! The wind was wailing. We had no grill. My friends and I ended up eating subway ice cube sandwiches. My friend Cam forgot his ticket at home. However, none of these things could snuff Super Bowl fever which was gripping Foxboro stadium!
My friends and I entered the stadium at bit toasty to combat the arctic weather outside. Our butts were frozen to the ice slabs which doubled for benches. It was game time!
The Patriots came out with a furious flurry. The game was over before the Jags even walked on the field. The Patriots built a 13-3 lead going into the 4th quarter. Everyone in New England was waiting for certain implosion. Gritting their teeth. Putting on their favorite Pats T-shirt. Sitting in their super bad spirit slaying chair. Praying.
Otis Smith let everyone breathe easy.
He scooped up a fumble and galloped 47 yards for the decisive touchdown. After 5 cups of hot chocolate, my lips thawed so I could finally scream……SUPER BOWL!!! My friends and I were beside ourselves. We were already scheduling days off after the Super Bowl to greet the Patriots at the airport. It was my 3rd year as a season ticket holder and my team was in the Bowl. How little I knew what was to come!
Desmond Howard and the non holding call dashed our championship hopes, 35-21 to the then likeable Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers. Parcells left the team due to spat with owner Bob Kraft and then bolted to the Jets with assistant, Bill Belichick. However, the other Bill came back in 2000 and the rest is Dyna-history!!