The Patriots finished 12–4 for the third straight year, winning their sixth straight AFC East title, as well as the top-overall seed and home field advantage for the AFC playoffs. With their seeding, New England was awarded a first-round bye in the playoffs for the fifth season in a row, the first such occurrence for any team since the league switched to a 12-team playoff format in 1990 (surpassing the 1992–95 Dallas Cowboys) With a rebound from their AFC Championship loss to the Denver Broncos 26–16, the team won Super Bowl XLIX securing their fourth championship since 2001.
The Patriots defeated the Baltimore Ravens 35–31 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, advancing to their fourth straight AFC Championship game. There, they defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45–7 to advance to their 8th Super Bowl. On February 1, 2015, the Patriots played the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. The Patriots won the game 28–24 to secure their fourth championship in franchise history.
The Patriots dominated the first half of the game, going into half time leading 20–10. However, the Dolphins' defense kept the Patriots scoreless during the entire second half, while a Miami offense led by newly acquired running back Knowshon Moreno scored 23 unanswered points. The Patriots went three-and-out on their first possession of the game, and the Dolphins blocked the ensuing punt. A few plays later, Lamar Miller took it in from 7 yards out giving the Dolphins the early lead. It was almost all Patriots for the remainder of the half. Later in the quarter, Shane Vereen took it in from 2 yards out, and the game was tied 7–7. With less than a minute remaining in the quarter, Stephen Gostkowski gave the Patriots the lead with a 47-yard field goal. Midway through the second quarter, Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on a six-yard TD pass giving the Patriots a commanding 17–7 lead. With 1:59 to go in the half Caleb Sturgis trimmed the lead to 7 points. However, with 0:09 remaining in the half Gostkowski increased the lead back to 20–10. The second half was a different story entirely. Caleb Sturgis booted another field goal to trim the lead back to 7 at 20–13. After a Patriots punt, the Dolphins finally crawled back with Ryan Tannehill hitting Mike Wallace on a 14-yard touchdown pass. Caleb Sturgis booted another field goal and the Dolphins regained the lead, 23–20. It only got worse for New England. After a lost fumble, Knowshon Moreno took over the game. He scored from 4 yards out and the Dolphins took a commanding lead at 30–20. On the play, Moreno fumbled at the 1, but the ball was recovered by the Dolphins in the endzone. The Patriots lost another fumble, and with 2:44 remaining Sturgis booted another field goal to close out the scoring at 33–20. Tom Brady was sacked four times, all in the second half, finishing the day completing 29 passes on 56 attempts for 249 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 interceptions. Ryan Tannehill went 18 of 32 for 178 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Moreno, who played mostly in the second half, ran for 134 yards and the Dolphins as a team rushed for 191 yards. The loss was the Patriots first to open a season since losing 31–0 to the Buffalo Bills in 2003.
After a disappointing loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots came back with a vengeance on defense and special teams. The Patriots intercepted Vikings QB Matt Cassel four times, and held the Vikings scoreless after their first possession. The Vikings scored on the opening drive, followed by the Patriots posting 30 unanswered. On the Vikings first possession, they quickly drove down the field and struck first on a Matt Asiata 25 yard touchdown reception, accounting for their only points of the afternoon. After a Patriots punt, safety Devin McCourty intercepted Matt Cassel, and returned it down to the 1 yard line. On the ensuing Patriots possession, Stevan Ridley took it in from a yard out to tie the game at 7 apiece. With less than a minute remaining in the first quarter, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 48-yard field goal, giving the Patriots a 10–7 lead. Early in the second quarter, Matt Cassel threw his second interception, this one to Darrelle Revis. Four minutes later, Julian Edelman caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady. At the end of the half, Chandler Jones blocked Blair Walsh's field goal attempt and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown, and the Patriots led 24–7 at halftime. Cassel threw two more interceptions in the 2nd half. Brady and the Patriots offense went silent in the second half, but Gostowski booted two field goals and the Patriots won easily, by a score of 30–7. Tom Brady completed 15 of 22 passes for 149 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 interceptions. Stevan Ridley led the Patriots in rushing, carrying the ball 25 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. Filling in for the suspended Adrian Peterson, Matt Asiata carried the ball 13 times for only 36 yards. Matt Cassel went 19 of 36 for 202 yards with 1 touchdown, but was intercepted 4 times by the Patriots fierce secondary.
The Patriots came out with a lackluster effort against the Raiders, especially on offense. However, both defenses had top-notch performances. Tight end Rob Gronkowski scored the only touchdown for either team on the day, and both offenses struggled on their opponent's side of the 50. The Raiders could only muster 3 field goals on the day, as rookie quarterback Derek Carr couldn't lead the Raiders into the end zone. Late in the game, trailing 16–9, the Raiders were marching down the field for the last drive of the game and appeared to score the game-tying touchdown. However, it was called back due to a holding foul on Raiders left guard Gabe Jackson. Two plays later, a tipped pass resulted in a Vince Wilfork interception, which sealed the win for the Patriots. Tom Brady was pressured relentlessly by the Oakland defensive line, but managed to complete 24 of 37 passes for 234 yards, with 1 touchdown and no interceptions. The running game struggled, with Stevan Ridley leading the team with only 54 yards on 19 carries. Julian Edelman was the leading receiver for either team, with 10 catches for 84 yards. Rob Gronkowski continued to slowly work himself into the offense catching only 3 passes for 44 yards, but caught the Patriots' only touchdown. Derek Carr had a sub-par day, going 21 of 34 for only 174 yards, with no touchdowns and an interception.
In front of a crowd that set the new record for highest decibel level at an NFL Game, the Chiefs routed the Patriots 41–14 on Monday Night Football. The Chiefs had over 200 yards passing and rushing against an inconsistent Patriots defense. After both teams punted to start the game, the Chiefs marched down the field on their second possession and Jamaal Charles punched it in from 2 yards out. The Patriots offense was stagnant almost all game. On the Chiefs' next possession, Charles caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith, extending the Kansas City lead to 14–0. Both offenses struggled for the rest of the quarter, but Cairo Santos booted a 22-yard chip-shot field goal and the Chiefs led 17–0 at halftime. The Patriots received the second half kickoff, but went three-and-out. On 3rd and 6 Tom Brady fumbled, but the Patriots recovered and punted. The Patriots forced the Chiefs to punt, but on 2nd and 7 on their next possession Brady was stripped by Tamba Hali, who recovered the fumble. 2 plays later, Smith hit Charles for an 8-yard touchdown increasing Kansas City's lead to 24–0. On the Patriots' second play of their next drive, Brady was intercepted by Sean Smith who returned the ball 34 yards to the New England 13 yard line. The Patriots defense managed to keep the Chiefs out of the end zone, but Cairo Santos booted his second field goal, a 31 yarder. The Patriots finally got on the board late in the third, when Brady hit Brandon LaFell for a 44-yard touchdown. Despite forcing a 3rd and 10 on the next Chiefs drive, the Patriots had no answer for the Chiefs screen game and Kansas City marched down the field to take a 34–7 lead on a two-yard touchdown catch by Travis Kelce, killing any hope of a Patriots comeback. On the ensuing Patriots drive, Husain Abdullah intercepted a Tom Brady Pass, returning it 39 yards for a touchdown. Abdullah, a Muslim, prayed in the end zone afterward, and was fined. At 41–7, Brady was benched and rookie Jimmy Garoppolo stepped in. Garoppolo marched the Patriots down the field and hit Rob Gronkowski who carried three Chiefs players into the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown to close out the scoring. Jamaal Charles was the main weapon of the Chiefs' offense, running for 92 yards and a touchdown, and catching two more touchdown passes. Brady completed 14 of 23 passes for 159 yards 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. The offensive line continued to struggle, as Brady was sacked 3 times and lost a fumble. Jimmy Garoppolo went 6 of 7 for 70 yards and touchdown to Rob Gronkowski. Brandon LaFell was the sole offensive star for the Patriots, catching 6 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. The 27 point margin of defeat represented the second largest loss for the Patriots in the Bill Belichick era (the Patriots' worst loss was a 31-point loss to the Bills in Week 1 of the 2003 season). With the loss, the Patriots' record dropped to 2–2. After the game, many analysts believed not only was the Patriots season over, but so was their 13-year dynasty. In his post-game press conference, when asked about evaluating the quarterback position, Bill Belichick scoffed. When asked about the loss he replied with his now famous line, "We're on to Cincinnati". That quote was what some Patriots pointed to as the turning point in the season. The Patriots would proceed to win ten of their final twelve regular season games, clinch the #1 seed, win the AFC Championship, and win the Super Bowl. Following their Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks, several Patriots players, including Brady himself, pointed to this game as the turning point in the Patriots' season.
Following the loss to Kansas City and a wave of public criticism of the organization on national and local media (led by scathing analyses by Trent Dilfer and former Patriot Tedy Bruschi and including a disputed report before the game of a confrontation between Josh McDaniels and receiver Aaron Dobson), the Patriots crushed the 3–0 Bengals, the last remaining undefeated team, 43–17 on Sunday Night Football, putting up 505 yards of offense and forcing three Bengals fumbles, one of which was a kick-return fumble by former Patriot Brandon Tate, recovered for a touchdown by Kyle Arrington. Tom Brady threw touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright while throwing to eight different receivers (including a 16-yard catch by Dobson); meanwhile Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen combined for 203 rushing yards. The Patriots paid tribute to Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still, whose daughter is battling cancer, with a short film during a television timeout saluting his daughter while the Patriots cheerleaders donned Devon Still #75 jerseys; the gesture and donation by the Kraft family to the Cincinnati hospital at which she is being treated, brought a standing ovation and moved Still to tears. During the game, Brady became the 6th player in NFL history with 50,000 career passing yards.
The Patriots faced the Bills on the road in the first game for Buffalo Sabres team owner Terry Pegula as the Bills owner. The Patriots crashed the party, scoring touchdowns on three of their four drives in the second half. Both teams were shut out in the first quarter. However, the remainder of the game would be a barrage of points. The Patriots scored the first points of the game under 2 minutes into the 2nd quarter on a Tom Brady 1 yard touchdown pass to Tim Wright. Late in the quarter, Kyle Orton hit Robert Woods to tie the game at 7 apiece. Stephen Gostowski added two more field goals and the Patriots led 13–7 at halftime. Early in the third quarter, Tom Brady hit Brian Tyms for a 43-yard touchdown, extending the New England lead to 20–7. Fred Jackson closed the gap to 20–14 with a 1-yard touchdown run. Gostowski added another field goal in the 3rd to increase the lead to 23–14. Midway through the 4th the Patriots seemingly put the game away with Brady's 18 yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell. However, the Bills wouldn't go away. Kyle Orton engineered a drive that ended in his 8-yard touchdown pass to Chris Hogan. However, with 2:49 remaining, Brady hit LaFell for a 56-yard touchdown and the Patriots won 37–22. Brady completed 27 of 37 passes for 361 yards, with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. Kyle Orton was equally impressive at 24 of 38 for 299 yards, with 2 TDs and 1 INT. Both teams struggled to run the football. The Patriots lost running back Stevan Ridley and linebacker Jerod Mayo to season ending injuries.
The Patriots' next opponent was the New York Jets, on Thursday Night Football. For the fourth straight home game the Patriots played the Jets in a contest where the final margin of victory was less than ten points, and third straight where the margin didn't exceed three points. Tom Brady made his 200th career regular season start and threw three touchdowns. It took the Patriots only three plays to score on their first possession. Shane Vereen slipped through on a wheel route completely unnoticed by the Jets secondary and Brady hit him for a 49-yard touchdown, a minute and a half into the game. The Jets then settled for three consecutive field goals and took a 9–7 lead into the second quarter. Brady and the Pats engineered a drive with 4 and a half minutes remaining in the first half to take a 14–9 lead on Vereen's second TD reception. Nick Folk kicked his fourth field goal of the half to bring the score to 14–12. However, a porous Jets secondary allowed the Patriots to drive down the field and Gostowski widened the lead to 17–12 at halftime. Halfway into the third quarter, Chris Ivory scored a touchdown from a yard out, giving the Jets their second and final lead of the game at 19–17. The Patriots settled for a field goal and led 20–19 going into the final quarter. The Patriots drove inside the Jets 10, but penalties sent them back to the Jets 19 on 3rd and goal. On 3rd down, Brady rolled out to the left and found Danny Amendola for a touchdown, extending the Patriots' lead to 27–19. On New York's next drive, Jets quarterback Geno Smith hit tight end Jeff Cumberland for a 10-yard TD pass to cut the Patriots' lead to two points. However, the 2 point conversion failed and the score remained 27–25. Danny Amendola recovered the onside kick for the Patriots with 2:30 remaining in regulation. The Patriots failed to run out the clock, giving the Jets one last chance at an upset. They reached the Patriots 40 with 0:05 seconds left setting up a potential Nick Folk game-winning field goal from 58 yards out. The kick was blocked by defensive lineman Chris Jones, who had been called for a personal foul on a missed field goal attempt against the Jets the previous season, which had cost the Patriots that game. Brady was efficient at 20 of 37 passing, for 261 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Geno Smith completed 20 of 34 passes for 226 yards, a touchdown, and 0 interceptions. The Jets ran for 218 yards on the night, led by Chris Ivory, who gained 107 yards on 21 carries. Chris Johnson added 61 yards on 13 carries.
The Patriots came in to their week 8 matchup with the Bears looking to win their fourth straight game. Following a punt by Chicago on the opening possession, the Patriots scored a touchdown on their first drive, with Tom Brady connecting with Rob Gronkowski, the first of three touchdown receptions on the day for Gronkowski. The New England defense forced the Bears to punt on their first three drives, while the Patriots' offense built a 17–0 lead on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal and a Tom Brady touchdown pass to Tim Wright. Chicago running back Matt Forte scored a touchdown to make it 17–7, but the Patriots took control of the game from there. In a 57-second span, the Patriots scored 3 touchdowns. After Brady threw touchdown passes to Gronkowski and Brandon LaFell, for 2 and 9 yards, respectively, the Patriots took a 31–7 lead. On the ensuing Chicago possession, quarterback Jay Cutler was sacked and stripped by rookie defensive end Zach Moore. Fellow defensive end Rob Ninkovich recovered the ball and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Patriots a 38–7 lead at halftime. On the first drive of the 2nd half, Brady Rob Gronkowski on a 46-yard touchdown pass, the fifth of the day for Brady, and the third for Gronkowski. With less than a minute remaining in the 3rd quarter, Jay Cutler hit Martellus Bennett on a 20-yard touchdown pass(with a successful 2 pt. conversion). With the outcome of the game no longer in doubt after another field goal by Gostkowski with 9:59 to play, backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took over for Tom Brady. The Bears would score again when Jay Culter hit Alshon Jeffery for a 10-yard touchdown pass(with another successful 2 point conversion). Gostowski added another field goal to end the scoring. The Patriots' 51 points were their largest single-game total of the season.
In this heavily anticipated matchup between the top two teams in the AFC standings, the Patriots drew first blood on a Stephen Gostowski 49 yard field goal. Denver running back Ronnie Hillman punched it in from 1 yard out to give the Broncos a 7–3 lead. After a 29-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, linebacker Rob Ninkovich intercepted a Peyton Manning pass. This led to Tom Brady's 5 yard TD pass to Julian Edelman. Edelman later returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown. After a missed field goal by Broncos kicker Brandon McManus, Shane Vereen added a 5-yard touchdown reception. Patriots outscored Denver 24–0 in the second quarter, and led 27–7 at the half. Bronco tight end Julius Thomas caught an 18-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 27–14, but it was the Patriots day, as Brady added two more passing touchdowns. Gostowski added another field goal and Denver only scored once more. Tom Brady completed 33 of 53 passes for 333 yards, with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. Rob Gronkowski had 9 catches for 105 yards and 1 TD, and Julian Edelman added 9 catches for 89 yards and a TD. Peyton Manning was 34 of 57 for 438 yards and 2 touchdowns, but added 2 interceptions. Both running games struggled, limited to 109 combined yards on the ground. With win, the Patriots took the lead in the race for the AFC's #1 seed, which they would not relinquish. It was Tom Brady's eleventh win in sixteen career meetings against Manning and was the Patriots' largest margin of victory over Manning since 2001.
The win was New England's first at Lucas Oil Stadium and was a breakthrough game for running back Jonas Gray, as he rushed for 201 yards and four touchdowns. The Patriots defense forced the Colts to a three-and-out and then the Patriots scored on their opening drive of the game. Jonas Gray punched through for a 4-yard score. Later in the first, Adam Vinateri kicked a 41-yard field goal to bring the score to 7–3. However, the Colts had no answer whatsoever for Jonas Gray as he took it in again this time from 2 yards out. However, late in the half Brady was picked off for the second time in the half and Luck hit Hakeem Nicks with less than a minute remaining in the half. However, in the second half Brady got going and Gray continued his magnificent running. On their first drive of the 2nd half Brady marched the Patriots and hit Tim Wright on a 2-yard touchdown pass. Vinateri was good from 53 yards and the score was at 21–13. However, Gray was unstoppable and he ran it in from 2 yards out again and the score went to 28–13. The Colts hung in however, and Luck hit Anthony Castonzo for a 1-yard touchdown bringing the score to 28–20. However, a Jonas Gray 1 yard touchdown run and a Tom Brady 26 yard TD pass to Gronkowski sealed it up at 42–20. The game also saw several skirmishes between Rob Gronkowski and Sergio Brown, with Gronkowski throwing Brown into an NBC camera after the play on Gray's 4th touchdown. Gronkowski referred to this incident as throwing Sergio Brown "out of the club" for yapping all game.
Following a major road victory against the Colts, the Patriots returned home to face another tough team in the Detroit Lions. The Patriots trailed early as the Lions scored on their opening drive with Matt Prater converting a 48-yard field goal attempt. Matt Prater would be the Lions' only scorer of the day. Tom Brady drove the Patriots down late in the 1st quarter and hit Tim Wright on a 4-yard touchdown pass. Prater added another field goal in the 2nd quarter. Then it was all Patriots for the rest of the half. LeGarrette Blount added a 3-yard rushing touchdown in his return to the Patriots. Brady hit Tim Wright again on an 8-yard TD pass. Gostowski closed out the half with a 35-yard field goal attempt as they went into the locker room up 24–6 at halftime. Gostowski added another field goal, this one from 43 yards out and the Patriots led 27–6. Matt Prater scored the Lions final points of the game with a 49-yard field goal. The Patriots closed out the scoring with a 1-yard TD run. The Lions looked liked a team that was mentally unprepared and lackluster early on with their offense struggling to score in the red zone and made horrific mistakes. At the end of the game, controversy brewed when a defensive lineman slapped the head of Patriots long snapper Danny Aiken, who ended up missing the Chargers game with a concussion, in the head that led to a personal foul penalty and a first down. The Patriots promptly scored on the next play with a 3-yard LeGarrette Blount touchdown, which angered Lions center Dominic Raiola. Raiola later took out his frustration on Patriots defensive lineman Zach Moore by punching him in the back of the helmet. Tom Brady was 38 of 53 for 349 yards 2 TDs (both to Tim Wright) and 1 INTs. LeGarrette Blount added 78 yard on 12 carries and two TDs. Matthew Stafford was awful going only 18 of 46 for 264 yards 0 TDs and 1 INTs. Joique Bell added only 48 yards on 19 carries. Darrelle Revis locked down vaunted receiver Calvin Johson holding him to an unimpressive 4 catches for 58 yards and 0 TDs. Golden Tate was more impressive with 4 catches and 97 yards but he couldn't get into the endzone either. With the win, the Patriots improved to 9–2, and making it the 14th straight winning season for the Patriots.
In a game that was hyped as a potential Super Bowl preview, the Packers edged out the Patriots in a game that lived up to its billing. The Patriots came out slow out of the gate offensively. The Packers jumped out to a 13–0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Packers drove down the field, but the Patriots defense held them out of the end zone. Mason Crosby booted a 32-yard field goal and the Packers led 3–0. The Patriots did nothing with any of their first quarter drives. The Packers once more marched down the field, but once again the Patriots defense kept them out of the end zone. Mason Crosby kicked a 35-yard field goal and the Packers led 6–0. With 0:08 seconds remaining in the quarter, Aaron Rodgers hit Richard Rodgers in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown pass and the Packers led 13–0 at the end of the first quarter. The Patriots slowly crawled their way back into the game. On their first drive of the second quarter, Tom Brady led the Patriots down the field that culminated in a Brandon Bolden 6 yard touchdown run. The Packers once again drove into the redzone, but Dont'a Hightower sacked Aaron Rodgers on third and goal and Mason Crosby kicked a field goal with just under six minutes remaining in the first half. Tom Brady then drove the Patriots down the field again and hit LaFell in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown pass. However, at the end of the second quarter they allowed Jordy Nelson to score a touchdown on a 45-yard catch-and-run to close out the first half. This was probably the most crucial play. This turned the halftime score from 16–14 to 23–14. Darrelle Revis was covering Nelson and that was only the 2nd touchdown Revis allowed all season. Jordy Nelson would have only one more catch all game. The third quarter was a stalemate, as both defenses began to take over. Tom Brady hit LaFell early in the fourth quarter to pull the Patriots within two at 23–21. However, Mason Crosby drove home a crucial 28 yard field goal. On the Patriots final drive of the game, Brady converted a fourth down to Edelman and a 3rd and 7 to Gronkowski. Tom Brady on 2nd and 9 hit Rob Gronkowski who caught the ball momentarily for the go-ahead touchdown, but Ha Ha Clinto-Dix punched it out before it could be ruled a catch. On the very next play Brady was sacked by defensive lineman Mike Daniels. Stephen Gostowski then missed a rushed field goal attempt. On the next drive Aaron Rodgers converted a 3rd and 6 which effectively ended the game. Tom Brady was 22 of 35 for 245 yards 2 TDs and 0 INTs. Aaron Rodgers went 24 of 38 for 368 yards 2 TDs and 0 INTs. Another deciding factor, the Patriots couldn't generate any sort of running game against a below average Packer's run defense. The Patriots almost couldn't get any pressure on Aaron Rodgers. At one point he even had 14 seconds to throw a pass(which he comleted for a first down to Davante Adams). The Patriots fell to 9–3 with the loss, snapping their 7-game winning streak. LeGarrette Blount had an unimpressive 58 yards on only 10 carries. Meanwhile, Eddie Lacy had 98 yards on 21 carries. Davante Adams was the receiving star for the Packers with 6 catches for 121 yards. Rob Gronkowski was the receiving star for the Patriots with 7 catches for 98 yards.
The Patriots' offense struggled for the duration of the game and had some self-inflicted mistakes that put the Chargers up early. After an early field goal the Chargers shut down the Patriots for nearly the entire half. Early in the 2nd quarter, Philip Rivers hit Malcolm Floyd for 15 yards to put the Chargers up 7–3. Later in the 2nd quarter, Brandon LaFell fumbled and Darrell Stuckey returned the fumble 53 yards for a touchdown and a 14–3 Chargers lead. The Patriots rallied for 10 points to close out the half at 14–13. In large part due to the defense shutting down the Chargers in the second half, the Patriots offense got one big play (69-yard catch and run for a touchdown by Julian Edelman) that put the Patriots on top. This victory over the Chargers gave the Patriots their 10th win of the season, and their 12th consecutive 10 win season.
As in 2010, Kyle Arrington scored on a blocked Dolphins field goal kick. The Patriots offensive line was much better than the opening day game against Miami as Brady wasn't sacked at all. Brady tossed 2 TDs to Edelman and Gronkowski while Vereen and Blount picked up rushing TDs. Miami picked up 384 yards of offense, but mostly couldn't get out of their own way with two turnovers and some awful drops, including a dropped touchdown by Mike Wallace. With the blowout win, the Patriots improved to 11–3, and they clinched their 17th AFC East title in franchise history, 12th in the Brady–Belichick era, and 6th straight.
The Patriots offensive line was dominated by Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson early on. Tom Brady was in constant duress and was sacked four times in the first half and the Jets led 10–7 at the half. After each teams swapped field goals in the third quarter, the 4th quarter began with the Jets leading 13–10. Following a Geno Smith interception by Jamie Collins, the Patriots were able to take the lead with a Jonas Gray rushing TD. Tom Brady threw a seemingly costly interception late in the fourth but the defense held the Jets to a field goal and the Pats led 17–16. Late in the game, the Jets were driving down for a go-ahead field goal, but the kick was blocked by Vince Wilfork. On the next drive, the Patriots were able to run out the clock thanks to some critical 3rd down conversions by Danny Amendola and Brandon Bolden. With the win, the Patriots improved to 12–3, and they clinched home field advantage throughout the playoffs after the Broncos' loss to the Bengals the following Monday night. This would wind up being Rex Ryan's last game against the Patriots as head coach of the New York Jets.
With the AFC East division title and home field advantage wrapped up, the Patriots rested many players, including tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman in the final game of the regular season. Brady started the game for the first half and finished 8 of 16 for 80 yards. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would finish the game 10 of 17 for 90 yards, as the Patriots would lose the game 17–9.
With the loss, the Patriots finished the regular season at 12–4, and is their first loss at home to the Bills since 2000, Brady's rookie season.
The Patriots became the third team in NFL history to erase two 14 point deficits to win a game (the last to do it was the 2003 Chiefs) and the first to pull off the feat in a playoff game, rallying from down 14–0 and 28–14 to win 35–31. Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns and ran in a fourth.
The Ravens drove down the field in less than 3 minutes on the game's opening possession to take a 7–0 lead, with Joe Flacco hitting rookie wide receiver Kamar Aiken on a 19-yard TD pass. After a Patriots three-and-out, Flacco drove the Ravens down the field once again, and capped the drive with a 9 yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith, giving Baltimore a 14-0 lead. The Patriots countered on a drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Brady (in the process Brady tied Curtis Martin's club record for rushing touchdowns in the playoffs). Later in the second quarter, Brady and the Patriots tied the game at 14 with a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola.
But with just over a minute remaining in the first half, Brady was intercepted by Ravens linebacker Daryl Smith. With 21 seconds to go in the quarter, Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis was penalized for illegal contact on Steve Smith, which gave the Ravens a first down. With ten seconds remaining in the first half, Flacco hit tight end Owen Daniels for a touchdown to give the Ravens a 21–14 lead at halftime.
The Patriots received the ball to start the second half, but were forced to punt after a Brady pass intended for Gronkowski fell incomplete, with a controversial pass interference no-call on Ravens linebacker C. J. Mosley. The Ravens responded with a drive that ended with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Ravens running back Justin Forsett, marking Flacco's fourth touchdown pass of the game and giving the Ravens the lead 28–14, their second 14 point lead of the game.
On the ensuing drive, Brady threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski to draw the Patriots within 7 points. On their next possession, Brady threw a lateral pass to Julian Edelman, who then proceeded to throw to a wide-open Danny Amendola for a 51-yard touchdown pass, in what was Edelman's first career passing touchdown.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Ravens drove inside the Patriots' 10-yard line. On third down, Owen Daniels dropped a pass in the end zone from Joe Flacco and the Ravens settled for a field goal. On the next drive, Brady led the Patriots down the field, with the drive culminating in a 23-yard touchdown pass to receiver Brandon LaFell with 5:21 to give the Patriots their first lead of the game. On the ensuing drive, the Ravens were able to move the ball to the Patriots' 37-yard line. On second and 5, with 1:47 to go, Flacco was intercepted in the end zone by safety Duron Harmon on a deep pass intended for Ravens receiver Torrey Smith.
After three Patriots kneel downs following the interception, the Ravens called their last timeout with 14 seconds to go, necessitating a Patriots punt. On the final play of the game Flacco's desperation heave was batted out of the end zone, and was batted down around the 5-yard line, sealing the Patriots' victory, and sending them to their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game.
The game saw several skirmishes between Patriot and Raven players, and controversy ensued when Ravens coach John Harbaugh accused the Patriots of using a formation that made unclear which receivers were eligible or ineligible, causing confusion on the field. The Patriots used this formation to gain a total of over 40 yards on their game-winning drive. Brady dismissed Harbaugh's comments in his postgame press conference. The NFL confirmed that the substitutions and plays by the Patriots were legal. Similar formations were used by the Jaguars, the Lions, and the Bengals during the season.
The Patriots clinched their 6th AFC title and Super Bowl appearance of the Brady-Belichick era in a dominating 45–7 victory over the rival Indianapolis Colts. Both teams went three-and-out on their first drives of the game. As the Patriots punted on their first drive, Colts return-man, Josh Cribbs muffed the kickoff reception as the ball bounced off his helmet and the Patriots recovered around the Colts 30. The Patriots then scored on running back LeGarrette Blount's 1–yard touchdown run. With 1:20 remaining in the first quarter, quarterback Tom Brady hit fullback James Develin for a 1-yard touchdown, giving the Pats the 14–0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Colts capitalized off of an interception in the second quarter as Brady forced a pass to tight end Rob Gronkowski that was picked off at the 1 yard line. The Colts only score of the game came on the ensuing drive, with running back Zurlon Tipton plunging one yard into the end zone late in the 2nd quarter to make the score 14–7. With 0:09 remaining, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski tacked on three points, giving the Patriots a 17–7 lead into halftime.
Though it was a fairly even ballgame after a half of play, the 2nd half was all Patriots. After receiving the kickoff, Brady hit left tackle Nate Solder, in as an eligible receiver for the play, for a 16-yard touchdown increasing their lead to 24–7. It was Solder's first career reception and touchdown. As the defense continued to shut down Colt quarterback Andrew Luck, Brady and the offense continued to roll. Brady hit Gronkowski, only his 2nd catch of the game, for a 5-yard touchdown to spread the lead to 31–7. The Colts next drive ended early as Darrelle Revis intercepted Luck, Revis' third career playoff interception. On the very next play, Blount took it 13 yards to the endzone for his 2nd touchdown of the night, cementing the fate of the game at 38–7.
In the 4th quarter, Luck threw his 2nd interception of the night, this one to linebacker Jamie Collins. With 10:05 remaining in the game, Blount took it in from 2 yards out, his 3rd score of the game and 7th against the Colts in two playoff game in two seasons, to close out the scoring at 45–7. Brady finished 23 of 35 for 226 yards 3 TDs and 1 interception. Blount was once again the star for the Pats against the Colts, carrying the ball 30 times, a Patriots postseason record, for 148 yard and 3 TDs. Continuing a trend of poor play versus the Patriots, Luck completed an abysmal 12 of 33 passes for 126 yards, no touchdowns and 2 interceptions. For his career, Luck fell to 0–4 against the Patriots, including two playoff losses. In those four games, the Patriots have outscored the Colts 189–73. Luck has thrown 9 career interceptions in three games played at Gillette Stadium.
The game would end up being a shoot-out that resulted in a 28–24 Patriots victory, the team's fourth Super Bowl championship. Both teams' first drives resulted in punts. However, toward the end of the first quarter the Patriots drove down the field, reaching the Seahawks 11 yard line. On third and goal facing a blitz, Tom Brady was intercepted by Jeremy Lane in the end zone, who returned it to the Seahawks 15. Lane suffered a broken wrist on the play and didn't return to the game.
Early in the 2nd quarter, the Patriots struck first blood as Tom Brady hit Brandon LaFell on an 11-yard touchdown pass. After trading punts, Seattle got their first points of the day, as Marshawn Lynch plunged in from 3 yards out to tie the game at 7. The Patriots scored retook the lead when Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on a 22-yard touchdown pass with 31 seconds remaining in the half. The ensuing Seahawks possession began with a 19 yard Robert Turbin run. Following a 17 yard Russell Wilson scramble and a 23 yard Ricardo Lockette reception (with an additional 10 yards on a Kyle Arrington facemark penalty), Seattle had the ball at the Patriots' 11 yard line with 6 seconds remaining in the half. On the ensuing play, Wilson hit Chris Matthews for the touchdown, the first of the latter's career, tying the game at 14 going into halftime.
The Seahawks drove into the redzone on their opening drive of the second half, but the Patriots defense stiffened and held them to a field goal, giving the Seahawks their first lead at 17–14. On the Patriots first drive of the half, on 3rd and 9, Brady was intercepted by Bobby Wagner on a pass intended for Gronkowski. A few plays later, Russell Wilson hit Doug Baldwin on a 3-yard TD pass, widening the Seahawks lead to 10. Baldwin was later fined for an obscene gesture after the play.
After a three and out, and facing their largest 4th quarter deficit in a Super Bow during the Brady-Belichick era, the Patriots looked finished, but a critical sack of Rob Ninkovich on third down forced the Seahawks to punt. Despite facing third-and-14 early on their drive, the Patriots were able to score when Brady hit Danny Amendola on a 4-yard touchdown pass with 7:55 remaining, trimming the deficit to 24–21. The Seahawks went three-and-out on their next drive, giving the Patriots the ball on their own 36 yard line with 6:52 remaining. Tom Brady completed all of his eight pass attempts on the drive, culminating in a 3 yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman with 2:02 left to retake the lead, Brady's fourth touchdown pass of the evening.
However, Seattle had 2 minutes and a full complement of timeouts at their disposal. On the first play of the ensuing Seahawk possession, Russell Wilson hit Marshawn Lynch on a 31-yard catch-and-run into Patriots territory. Four plays later, on 1st down at the Patriots' 38 with 1:13 remaining, Jermaine Kearse caught a 33 yard pass that bounced off of his body multiple times, which has been compared to the David Tyree helmet catch (Which also came against the Patriots at University of Phoenix Stadium). The Seahawks now had the ball at the Patriots' 5 yard line. Marshawn Lynch carried the ball to the 1 yard line on the next play, setting up 2nd and goal at the 1 yard line. On the next play, Russell Wilson's pass, intended for Ricardo Lockette, was intercepted by undrafted free-agent rookie Malcolm Bulter on the goal line with 20 seconds remaining. Pete Carroll's play call was heavily scrutinized following the loss. After taking over possession at their own 1 yard line, the Patriots induced an offsides penalty by Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett, allowing them to kneel the ball down and run out the clock.
On the kneeldown, brawl broke out between the two teams, resulting in the ejection of Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin, and fines against Bennett, Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui. The Patriots took one more knee, killing the clock, winning their fourth Super Bowl Championship, and their first since Super Bowl XXXIX, ten years earlier.
Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP (his third, tying Joe Montana for most all time) after completing 37 of 50 passes for 328 yards, with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Brady was 13 of 15 for 124 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs and a 140.7 passer rating with a QBR of 97.0 in the 4th quarter. Brady tied Montana and Terry Bradshaw for most Super Bowl victories by a quarterback, with four. Russell Wilson was 12 of 21 for 247 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT and added 39 yards on 3 carries. Julian Edelman had 9 catches for 109 yards and 1 touchdown. Rob Gronkowski had 6 catches for 68 yards and 1 touchdown. Shane Vereen led all players in receptions, with 11 catches for 64 yards, while Seattle counterpart Marshawn Lynch had 102 yards on 24 carries and 1 touchdown. Receiver Danny Amendola had 5 catches for 48 yards and 1 touchdown.
^ abcdKansas City finished ahead of San Diego in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (Week 7, 23–20; Week 17, 19–7). Houston finished ahead of Kansas City and Buffalo based on conference record. Kansas City finished ahead of Buffalo based on head-to-head victory (Week 10, 17–13). San Diego finished ahead of Buffalo based on head-to-head victory (Week 3, 22–10).
^ abJacksonville finished ahead of Oakland based on record vs. common opponents (1–4 to 0–5).
^When breaking ties for three or more teams under the NFL's rules, they are first broken within divisions, then comparing only the highest ranked remaining team from each division.