The 2013New England Patriotsseason was the franchise's 44th season in the National Football league and the 54th overall. The Patriots finished 12–4 and with the AFC's No. 2 seed for a second consecutive season. Along with their seeding, New England was awarded a first-round bye in the playoffs for the fourth season in a row, only the second such occurrence for any team since the league switched to a 6-team playoff format in 1990 (the others being the 1992-95 Dallas Cowboys). The Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 43–22 in the Divisional round of the playoffs, but lost in the AFC Championship game to the Denver Broncos, by a score of 26–16.
The Patriots' regular season schedule was announced on April 18, 2013. For the first time since the 2002 season, the Patriots did not play the Indianapolis Colts during the regular season, though the two teams met in the playoffs. The Colts–Patriots rivalry had become one of the most known in modern era sports.
In the season opener, both teams featured key new players to their franchises: the Bills' rookie quarterback EJ Manuel and the Patriots' new wide receiver Danny Amendola. Tom Brady struggled as the chemistry between him and his receivers was not great and as a result, Brady was inaccurate throughout the game. The Bills managed to take the lead in the 3rd quarter, but Brady mounted a masterful 4th quarter comeback by throwing quick, accurate passes to an injured Amendola to set up Gostowski for a game winning field goal. The Patriots began their season 1–0 for the 10th straight year.
NYJ- 5:05 Bilal Powell 3-yard TD run, Nick Folk kick. Drive: 9 plays, 58 yards, 5:00. (NE 13-10)
NYJ – Geno Smith: 15/35, 214 yards, 3 INT
NE – Tom Brady: 19/39, 185 yards, TD
NYJ – Chris Ivory: 12 carries, 52 yards
NE – Stevan Ridley: 16 carries, 40 yards
NYJ – Stephen Hill: 4 receptions, 86 yards
NE – Julian Edelman: 13 receptions, 78 yards
NYJ – Antonio Allen: 5 tackles, 4 assists
NE – Dont'a Hightower: 4 tackles, 4 assists
The Patriots home opener featured the long-time division rival Jets and their new rookie quarterback Geno Smith. The Patriots struck first with Tom Brady hitting a wide open Aaron Dobson for a 39-yard touchdown pass, his first of the year. Because It rained heavily throughout the game, it resulted in poor offenses from both teams. Brady failed to complete at least 50% of his passes on the day. The lone bright spot on the Patriots offense was Julian Edelman, who caught 13 passes for 78 yards. After leading 13–3 at halftime, the Jets would try to rally with a touchdown, however the Pats' defense made a critical stop as the team improved to 2–0.
The Patriots rolled through the struggling Buccaneers to improve to 3–0. Although the Patriots struggled early, they finally flexed their muscles on offense with an equally as impressive show of force on defense. Kenbrell Thompkins scored his first two touchdowns of his career: a 16-yard touchdown reception, as well as a 5-yard touchdown reception. Running back Doug Martin could not reach the end zone for Tampa Bay and Josh Freeman could not lead the Buccaneers offense to a touchdown. Tampa Bay's starting quarterback Josh Freeman would be released in the week following the game.
In their first strong test of the season, the Patriots defeated Matt Ryan and the Falcons in a close battle to go 4–0. The Falcons got on the scoreboard first with a 23-yard field goal by kick Matt Bryant. The Patriots responded with quarterback Tom Brady throwing a tight pass to Tight end Mathew Mulligan to take a 7-3 lead. Later in the quarter, Steven Gostowski added to the lead by booting a 48-yard field goal. Right before half-time, Quarterback Matt Ryan drove his team down the field eventually finding Tight end Tony González for a 21-yard touchdown and which tied the game at 10. The game seemed to be over early in the fourth quarter, after the Patriots increased their lead to 30–13, but Ryan made it interesting with a late touchdown and field goal. On their last drive with the clock winding down, the Falcons were in the red zone but the Patriots defense prevented a score thanks to a 4th down pass breakup by Aqib Talib.
The Patriots first loss of the season came in Cincinnati, as the Patriots struggled to gain any offense against a great Bengals defense. Brady's consecutive games with a TD pass streak ended at 52, two games short of Drew Brees' record, against the same team which he had started the streak in 2010. From start to finish the Bengals defensive line led by Geno Atkins made mince meat of the Patriots offensive line. Brady was hit and sacked early and often on the day. Both teams' defenses played extremely well in the day. On the Patriots final drive, Brady led the Pats to the Cincinnati 27 yard line before throwing a final fade in a gargantuan downpour. The ball was wet, wobbly, inaccurate, and intercepted.
In a thrilling back and forth affair, the Patriots managed a sensational comeback against the undefeated Saints. The Patriots offense looked much improved after the devastating week 5 loss to the Bengals. Although the passing game was fluid and the running game was exceptional, the pass protection was horrendous. Brady was sacked multiple times on the day, irking him and his 36 year old body. Nevertheless, the Patriots matched blow for blow with the Saints and even managed to negate a single reception coming towards Jimmy Graham. After Brady threw a seemingly game deciding interception near the 2 minute mark, the Patriots defense managed to hold the Saints to a 3-and-out. Brady got the ball back with about a minute remaining and no timeouts, and mounted his 39th career game-winning drive, throwing a magnificent touchdown pass to Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds remaining on the clock. The win (his 28th comeback win and 40th game-winning 4th quarter drive) was also his first in four tries against a Drew Brees-quarterbacked team.
Later that night, the Boston Red Sox managed a sensational comeback of their own. In Game 2 of the 2013 ALCS, playing at Fenway Park, the Red Sox were trailing the Detroit Tigers by a score of 5–1 in the bottom of the 8th inning. With the bases loaded, David Ortiz hit a grand slam to tie the game at 5. The Red Sox would complete the comeback with a game winning single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the bottom of the 9th. The dual-victory was renowned as one of the most spectacular Boston sports moments in history; ten years earlier a similarly spectacular Boston sports day occurred on October 5, 2003 when the Red Sox rallied to win Game 4 of the 2003 ALDS at exactly the same time the Patriots defeated the Titans, with crowd reaction at Gillette Stadium erupting to Red Sox scores simultaneously occurring amid Titans scoring drives.
After a strong start by the Patriots in the first game back for star tight end Rob Gronkowski (8 catches 114 yards), the Jets battled back and lead 27–24 in the 4th quarter. Brady led a drive that would result in a game tying field goal with 16 seconds left to send the game to overtime. The Patriots received the ball first but failed to score. The Jets then pushed down the field but was halted by the Patriots defense and was forced to attempt a 56 yd field goal, which missed. However, on the play, a controversial unsportsmanlike penalty was called on New England's Chris Jones for pushing his teammate into the offensive line, giving the Jets 15 yds and a first down. Nick Folk's second attempt at 42 yds didn't miss and the Jets won their first game against New England in three years.
Miami dominated the first half, scoring 17 points as the Patriots looked ugly, struggling to gain any offense except for a field goal. Brady threw for only 25 yards in the first half (his fewest since 2003) to complement his interception. It looked dangerously like New England would lose back to back division games for the first time since 2002. But, the second half proved better, as Brady and the Patriots came out strong and scored 24 unanswered to win 27–17, thanks to a few crucial Miami turnovers.
New England posted its biggest single-game offensive output of the season to date, and the third highest in team history (630 yards) as the Patriots offense finally clicked in what amounted to a blowout win over the struggling Steelers. Brady threw for 432 yards and four touchdowns, while Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski combined for 395 yards and four touchdowns. Stevan Ridley also had over 100 yds rushing and two touchdowns despite a third-quarter fumble. Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 400 yds and 4 TD's as well, made it a close game early in the 3rd, coming out of the half to score two unanswered touchdowns to tie the game at 24. But New England's defense took advantage of Pittsburgh turnovers and the Patriots offense remained productive, scoring 28 points in the fourth quarter to seal the blowout win. The 55 points was the most scored against the Steelers in team history.
The Patriots and Panthers battled back and forth on an exciting edition of Monday Night Football. Carolina's stout defense held the Patriots to only a field goal in the first half, going to the locker room up 10—3, but Brady led New England back and tied to game on the opening drive of the second half. After trading touchdowns, New England managed a stop and took a 20—17 lead with around 6 minutes left in the game. However, Cam Newton led the Panthers down the field and retook the lead at 24—20 with only :58 seconds left. Using their three timeouts remaining, Brady got the ball to the Panther's 22 yard line with :03 seconds left and attempted a game winning TD pass to Rob Gronkowski, but was intercepted in the end zone. However, on the final play of the game, yet another controversial call by the referees decided the outcome of the game, as the Panther's Luke Kuechly was called for pass interference on Gronkowski, but the flag was picked up and announced there was no foul, resulting in end of the game. The official ruling on the field was that Kuechly had interfered with Gronkowski, but because the ball was under-thrown and intercepted, the ball was ruled uncatchable, thus nullifying the foul. However, after the game ended, media sources debated the ruling on the field, and it was the opinion of many that the call was incorrect and the Patriots were robbed of a chance to win the game.
In the 14th installment of the Brady-Manning Rivalry, the Patriots and Broncos battled in one of the most exciting editions of NBC Sunday Night Football in recent memory. The expected shootout between two potent offenses did not occur at the start of the game, as three New England turnovers on their first three drives of the game gave the Broncos a 17–0 lead in the 1st quarter. It was looking to be one of the most embarrassing performances in Patriot history as an additional touchdown gave Manning and the Broncos a 24–0 at the half. However, Brady and the Patriots were not going to let the Broncos run away with a blowout victory at Gillette. They regrouped in the locker room and came out to score 31 unanswered points, scoring on five straight drives out of the half, helped by three Denver turnovers of their own. The two halves were complete polar opposites, each displaying offensive domination on one side and defensive struggles on the other, flipping 180˚ at the half. However, the Broncos managed to tie the game at 31 late in the 4th, eventually sending the game to overtime.
The Patriots won the coin toss, but surprisingly elected to defend first, hoping to stop the Broncos from scoring and to take advantage of the wind for a potential game winning field goal. This was exactly what happened, as the two teams traded punts twice, but on New England's second punt, Broncos cornerback Tony Carter ran into the punt, and Patriots' Nate Ebner recovered the ball on the Broncos' 20 yard line, setting up Gostkowski's game winning 31 yard field goal. The 24 point deficit was the largest comeback in Brady's and the Patriots' history, and gave Brady his 10th win in 14 meetings over Manning-led teams. Brady threw for 344 yard and 3 TD's in the contest, and WR Julian Edelman had a career day with 110 receiving yards for two scores.
The win from down 24 points was the largest comeback win in Patriots history, surpassing 1984's comeback from down 23–0 against the Seahawks.
New England escaped Houston with a win as the Patriots and the Texans battled in a closely fought game a week after coming back to win against the Denver Broncos. Houston opened up the game by scoring 10 points in the 1st quarter as the Patriots continued their trend of falling behind early. New England answered with a touchdown but gave up another score to go into the half down 7–17. Again continuing a trend, Brady and the Pats came out of the locker room hot, scoring on five straight possessions to eventually take a 34–31 lead late in the 4th. The Patriots were down 31–28 but kicker Stephen Gostkowski scored the final 6 go-ahead points on two 53 yard field goals. Houston had the ball with 0:21 left on the clock but failed to move the ball down to field goal range and ran out of time. The win marks the 9th on the year for the Patriots, ensuring their 13th winning season in a row, and ended a 3 game road losing streak. The loss puts the Texans at 2–10, easily their worst season in recent memory.
This marked the Patriots' only game outside of the Eastern Time Zone during the 2013 regular season (the Patriots would go on to play the AFC Championship Game in the Mountain Time Zone at Denver).
The Patriots won their third straight come-from-behind victory on a thrilling finish in Foxboro. After being shutout in the 1st half for the second time this season, New England found themselves down 26–14 with less than three minutes left in the game. Tom Brady lead a touchdown scoring drive to put them within five points with 61 seconds remaining. The Patriots successfully recovered their onside kick attempt for the first time in team history since 1995, also against the Browns, who ironically were coached by Bill Belichick that year. On the ensuing New England drive, the Browns took a pass interference penalty in the endzone to give the Patriots a 1st and goal. New England took the 27–26 lead on a 1 yard pass by Brady to Amendola with 31 seconds left. After failing to convert on the 2 point play, the Browns attempted to get into field goal range for the win. With 1 second remaining, Billy Cundiff attempted a 58 yard field goal but fell short of the uprights, giving the Patriots their 10th win of the season, and their 11th straight 10 win season.
The Patriots lost their comeback magic, as they failed to beat the Dolphins in which would have been their 4th straight comeback victory. After New England took the 20–17 lead in the 4th quarter, Miami scored the game winning touchdown with less than two minutes remaining to take a 24–20 lead. Brady led the Patriots to the Miami 12 yard line with less than 20 seconds remaining, but failed to complete four straight passes into the endzone. The first attempt was almost completed by Danny Amendola, but was dropped, the third attempt to Michael Hoomanawanui had what looked like passing interference, but was not called, and the final, 4th down attempt was intercepted to seal the win for the Dolphins. Miami's victory was their first over the Patriots since 2009, having lost the last seven games in the division rivalry.
Before the start of the game, the Patriots clinched the AFC East for the 5th straight year with Miami's 0–19 loss to Buffalo.
The Patriots played arguably their best all-around game of the year in a 41–7 domination of the Ravens. New England's defense was superb, forcing three fourth down turnovers, three interceptions and a missed field goal, while only allowing one touchdown as Joe Flacco struggled while playing with an MCL sprain. Brady led the Patriots to an early 14–0 lead and never looked back. After New England took a 27–7 lead late in the 4th quarter, Baltimore gave up two defensive scores in the final two minutes to lose by 34 points, the largest losing margin the Ravens have ever had at home.
The Patriots earned their 4th straight first round bye and the AFC's second seed with a 34–20 win over the Bills in the 108th meeting of the rivalry. New England dominated the first half, taking a 16–3 lead into the locker room. Buffalo would score 17 points to keep it a close contest but could not overcome the Patriots defense enough to take the lead, as New England forced three fourth down turnovers for the second straight week. Julian Edelman became the 3rd player in New England history to make 100 receptions for 1,000 yards on the season. Stephen Gostkowski broke his own team record for field goals made by kicking his 38th of the year. The story of the game though was Legarrette Blount, who had a career day, rushing for 189 yards and two touchdowns, and added 145 yards on two kickoff returns for a total of 334 all purpose yards on the day.
NE - Legarrette Blount 2-yard run (Stephen Gostkowski Kick), 10:58. Patriots 21-7. Drive: 10 plays, 75 yds, 6:28
IND - Adam Vinatieri 36-yard Field Goal, 5:40. Patriots 21-10. Drive: 11 plays, 62 yds, 5:19
IND - Ryan Allen fumbles out of end zone for a safety, 2:28. Patriots 21-12. Drive: 6 plays, -25 yds, 3:17
The Patriots punched their ticket to their 3rd straight AFC Championship game in a 43–22 dominating victory over the rival Colts. In the week leading up to the AFC Division round matchup, the Patriots made their gameplan clear, intending to take advantage of the Colt's questionable run defense by using a healthy dose of their three threats out of the backfield: Legarrette Blount, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen. This gameplan proved to be extremely effective, as New England scored six touchdowns on the ground, with Blount setting a franchise postseason record by scoring four of the six TD's. The three backs combined for 235 yards rushing, 166 coming from Blount alone, also a franchise postseason record. The Patriot defense was exemplary, picking off Andrew Luck four times, sacking him three times and relatively shutting down star wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for the majority of the game, although he did finish with 103 yards on four receptions.