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2004 Patriots best in club history?

Posted by Albert Breer  July 1, 2010 12:25 PM

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ESPN.com is running a series to name the best team in the history of each of the NFL's 32 franchises, and yesterday, it was Tim Graham's turn to select those for each of the four AFC East clubs.

Belich39.jpgHe chose 2004 in the case of New England. And ESPN then called on a leader on that team -- its own analyst, Tedy Bruschi -- to back up the pick.

"Holding up three fingers after winning that championship was a moment for me that solidified our stamp on being in the conversation with the best teams in NFL history," Bruschi said. "It takes a special player to perform at a championship level when so much is at stake. (Tom) Brady, (Willie) McGinest, (Mike) Vrabel, (Roman) Phifer, (Rodney) Harrison -- the roster was endless with players that not only wanted to win, but want to be the best of all time.

"Walking out on the field with that 2004 team was the closest I ever felt to being invincible."

You can relive that season over at Hulu.com, or head over to Pro Football Reference to review the stats one more time. Tim also had four honorable mention selections, and put the other two championship teams (2001, '03), the 18-1 runner-up (2007), and the 1976 team on the list, leaving off AFC champs from 1985 and 1996.

My feeling is the 2004 team was special because it could beat you so many ways, whether it was holding a high-powered Colts offense to a field goal one week, or ringing up 41 points on a vaunted Steeler defense the next. And so it deserves its place. What's really interesting, though, is that a non-champion -- the 2007 team -- probably has the most compelling argument against 2004, because of its historical accomplishments from a single-season perspective.

The argument, too, puts in perspective the kind of history that was made around here from 2001-07. Feel free to weigh in with your own comments below.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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