Super Bowl XX

The New England Patriots were a Cinderella team during the 1985 season. They began the season losing 3 of their first 5 games, but won 6 consecutive games to finish with an 11-5 record. Even though they finished with a good record, the Patriots came in third place in the AFC East behind the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets. However, they were able to get into the playoffs as the second Wild Card team.

The Patriots shocked everybody in the playoffs this year by choking against the New York Jets. However, the 1985 team shocked everybody by going on an incredible run – with all their playoff games on the road. They started this playoff run against the…

New York Jets

December 28, 1985
Giants Stadium

New England Patriots 26
New York Jets 14

In the NFL’s first ever playoff game at Giants Stadium, the Patriots dominated the Jets by forcing 4 turnovers and 5 sacks. New England jumped to 3-0 lead in the first quarter after Tony Franklin made a 33-yard field goal. Then after New York scored on quarterback Ken O’Brien’s 11-yard touchdown pass to running back Johnny Hector, Franklin kicked his second field goal for 41 yards. Late in the second quarter, safety Fred Marion intercepted a pass from O’Brien to set up Tony Eason’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Stanley Morgan, giving New England a 13-7 halftime lead. In the third period, Franklin made a 20-yard field goal to give the Patriots a 16-7 lead and on the ensuing kickoff, Hector was stripped of the ball by LB Johnny Rembert, who then picked up the fumble and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown, which gave the Patriots a commanding 23-7 lead, but the Jets cut the lead to 23-14 late in the 3rd quarter when Pat Ryan, in at QB for the injured Ken O’Brien, threw a 12 yard TD pass to Mickey Shuler. Late in the 4th quarter, Franklin later made his fourth field goal of the game, a 26-yarder, to close out the scoring.

The Patriots then went out to Los Angeles to take on the…

Los Angeles Raiders

January 5, 1986
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

New England Patriots 27
Los Angeles Raiders 20

New England running back Craig James rushed for 104 yards, caught 3 passes for 48 yards and scored a touchdown while the Patriots converted 6 Raiders turnovers into 17 points. In the first quarter, a fumble by Raiders punt returner Fulton Walker set up Patriots tight end Lin Dawson’s 13-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Tony Eason. Los Angeles then scored 17 unanswered points: a 29-field goal by Chris Bahr, a 16-yard touchdown reception by Jessie Hester, and Marcus Allen’s 11-yard rushing touchdown. New England then scored with James’ 2-yard run, and later tied the game, 17-17, after Ronnie Lippett’s interception set up Tony Franklin’s 45-yard field goal. But Bahr kicked a 32-yard field goal with 6 second left in the half to give the Raiders a 20-17 lead. In the third period, Franklin made a 32-yard field goal to tie the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Sam Seale fumbled and Jim Bowman recovered the loose ball in the end zone for the game-clinching touchdown.

New England Patriot fans were extremely excited. We were not used to going this far into the playoffs. Hell, we were lucky to even see a playoff team. And here are the Patriots, going to the AFC Championship game, on the way to “Squish the Fish”, as they took on their dreaded rivals the…

Miami Dolphins

January 12, 1986
Miami Orange Bowl

New England Patriots 31
Miami Dolphins 14

This win against Miami had been especially surprising, not only because Miami was the only team to beat the Chicago Bears in the season, but also because New England had not won in the Orange Bowl (Miami’s then-home field) since 1966, the Dolphins’ first season (then in the AFL). The Patriots had lost to Miami there 18 consecutive times, including a 30-27 loss in their 15th game of the season. And this was not the Miami team of recent years. This was the Dan Marino-led Miami team. But, somebody forgot to tell the Patriots that they were supposed to lose. And somebody forgot to tell the Miami offense that they had a game to play. The Patriots converted 6 Dolphins turnovers into 24 points.

On Miami’s first offensive play, running back Tony Nathan fumbled, and Patriots defensive end Garin Veris recovered the ball to set up Tony Franklin’s 23-yard field goal. The Dolphins then marched on an 80-yard drive to score on quarterback Dan Marino’s 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dan Johnson. But New England responded on a 66-yard possession to score on quarterback Tony Eason’s 4-yard touchdown to Tony Collins. A fumble by Dwight Stephenson then led to Eason’s 1-yard touchdown to Derrick Ramsey to give the Patriots a 17-7 lead. Just before halftime Miami missed the chance to cut the deficit down to 3 points when tight end Dan Johnson dropped a pass from Marino in the end zone on a 1st and 10 from the Patriots’ 16. As the next two plays fell short of a first down, Miami settled for a field goal from the Patriots’ 14 yards, but Fuad Reveiz’ kick sailed wide to the right after a badly taken snap. Miami’s Lorenzo Hampton then lost a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half, and Eason converted the turnover into a 2-yard touchdown pass to running back Robert Weathers. The Dolphins finally scored again in the final period with Nathan’s 10-yard touchdown reception to cut the deficit to 24-14, but New England’s Mosi Tatupu later recorded a 1-yard touchdown to close out the scoring. Patriots running back Craig James was their main contributor on offense, rushing for a career postseason high 105 yards of the Patriots 255 total rushing yards in a game played in a steady rain.

This brought the Patriots to their first ever Super Bowl…

which they lost 46-10.

If you want to know about that game, you can ‘Super Bowl Shuffle’ yourself over to the article that I painfully wrote last year.

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