Jan. 18, 2004, at Foxborough, AFC Championship, New England 24, Indianapolis 14: Peyton Manning was intercepted four times (three by Law) and completed less than half his passes (23 of 47, 237 yards) in a humbling performance. On New England’s ﬁrst drive, Brady capped a 13-play, 65-yard drive by hitting David Givens after a perfect pump-fake, giving the hosts a 7-0 lead. The lead grew to 15-0 — thanks to two Vinatieri ﬁeld goals and a safety following a botched punt. Though the Colts struck for two second-half touchdowns (Edgerrin James’s 2-yard run and Marcus Pollard’s 7-yard catch from Manning), Vinatieri added three more ﬁeld goals to secure the win.
Feb. 1, 2004, at Houston, Super Bowl XXXVIII, New England 32, Carolina 29: The game remained scoreless longer than any other Super Bowl in history — and then suddenly the teams combined for 24 points in the ﬁnal 3:05 of the ﬁrst half, and the track meet was on. It was another battle down to the wire in what many called the greatest Super Bowl ever. After linebacker-turned-tight end Mike Vrabel caught a 1-yard touchdown pass that — along with a 2-point conversion — put the Patriots up, 29-22, Proehl caught a game-tying touchdown with 1:08 left. But Brady brought the Patriots back down the ﬁeld to set up another championship-winning ﬁeld goal by Vinatieri, this one a 41-yarder with 4 seconds left.
Jan. 16, 2005, at Foxborough, AFC divisional playoff, New England 20, Indianapolis 3: With Brady (144 yards, 1 TD pass, 1 TD run), Corey Dillon (144 yards), and the Patriots offense gobbling up huge chunks of the clock — their three most time-consuming drives of the season — Manning and the high-powered Colts’ offense spent much of the game with the best seats in the house. And even when they did get on the ﬁeld, the supposedly depleted Patriots defense executed to perfection, led by Tedy Bruschi, who was credited with two fumble recoveries, though one he simply ripped out of Dominic Rhodes’s hands while tackling him. Manning, who had set an NFL regular-season record with 49 touchdown passes, never found the end zone while falling to 0-7 at Foxborough and 2-10 overall against the Patriots.
Jan. 23, 2005, at Pittsburgh, AFC Championship, New England 41, Pittsburgh 27: Pittsburgh’s heralded rookie quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was intercepted by Eugene Wilson on his ﬁrst pass attempt, setting up a Vinatieri 48-yard ﬁeld goal. Bettis fumbled on fourth and 1 on the Steelers’ next possession, and Brady hit Branch for a 60-yard touchdown pass on the following play. New England’s lead ballooned to 24-3 by halftime, with Rodney Harrison returning the second of Roethlisberger’s three picks 87 yards for a back-breaking score. The Steelers managed to stoke a capacity Heinz Field crowd with three consecutive scoring drives, closing within 31-20 with 13:29 remaining, but the Patriots responded with back-to-back 10-play scoring drives to clinch their third conference title in four seasons.
Feb. 6, 2005, at Jacksonville, Super Bowl XXXIX, New England 24, Philadelphia 21:
The Patriots played in their ﬁrst outdoor Super Bowl and despite the game being tied after each of the ﬁrst three quarters, New England came away with their third title in four seasons. Tom Brady threw for two touchdowns, Corey Dillon ran for one and Adam Vinatieri’s fourth quarter ﬁeld goal was the difference maker. Deion Branch had 11 catches for 133 yards, earning him MVP honors.
Jan. 7, 2006, at Foxborough, AFC wild card, New England 28, Jacksonville 3: Josh Scobee’s 36-yard ﬁeld goal in the second quarter was the only blemish against a Patriots defense that allowed only 87 rushing yards. Tom Brady threw for 201 yards and three touchdowns with tight end Benjamin Watson serving as his top target on the day with 5 catches and 91 yards that included a 63-yard touchdown reception. It was the tenth straight playoff victory for Brady and Belichick, surpassing the Green Bay Packers run in the 1960s.
Jan. 14, 2005, at Denver, AFC divisional playoff, Denver 27, New England 13: The Patriots drive for three straight Super Bowl titles ended after the Broncos cashed in on four of ﬁve turnovers for points. Tom Brady threw for 341 yards but suffered his ﬁrst ever postseason defeat after tossing two interceptions, including a late pick by John Lynch that sealed the Patriots fate. Denver’s Mike Anderson punched in two one-yard touchdown runs and Jason Elam was perfect on the day hitting two ﬁeld goals and three extra points.
Jan. 7, 2007, at Foxborough, AFC wild card, New England 37, NY Jets 16: Jabar Gaffney, who had 11 receptions all season, stepped up in his ﬁrst career playoff game catching 8 passes for 104 yards. New England’s running game accounted for 158 yards and a touchdown on 38 touches and rookie kicker Stephen Gostkowski went 3-for-3 on ﬁeld goals and 4-for-4 on extra points. Defensively, Tully Banta-Cain recorded two sacks on Chad Pennington and Asante Samuel returned a 36-yard interception to the house.Continued...