The Perfect Season: How It Happened

As the Patriots begin to look forward to their home playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday, the first perfect regular season in 35 years merits another look back at the previous 17 unforgettable record-breaking weeks.

Week 1: Patriots 38; Jets 14

Following a dominating performance by New England in the season opener against the rival Jets at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, the NFL began to look into claims a Patriots' employee was videotaping signals by Jets coaches on New York's sideline. NFL security confiscated a video camera and tape from a Patriots employee during New England's 38-14 victory and the employee was accused of aiming his camera at the Jets' defensive coaches.

Over shadowed in the controversy was the start of a record setting season by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who threw for 297 yards and three touchdowns in the game, and receiver Randy Moss, who caught nine passes for 183 yards and score.

Week 2: Patriots 38; Chargers 14

Three days before the Patriots and Chargers met in New England's home opener on Sunday night, the NFL fined Belichick $500,000 and the team another $250,000 for spying on the Jets. The Patriots also forfeited their first-round draft pick next spring.

The Pats seemed to rally around their coach in the aftermath and seemed to want to make a statement they don't need video to win by clubbing the Chargers, 38-14, with several new Patriots contributing to the victory. Moss had two touchdown catches and his second straight 100-yard receiving game, and Adalius Thomas picked off Philip Rivers for a 65 yard interception return for a touchdown.

Following the emotional victory Brady, who threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns in the rout, said "After everything that went on this week, we wanted to do our best for [Belichick]."

"I know we won last week, too, but it really didn't feel like it," said an emotional Tedy Bruschi, who also said this was the most satisfying victory in his entire career. "This was coming from all directions. To come out here and win, it's an exclamation point victory. It's really satisfying."

Week 3: Patriots 38; Bills 7

The Patriots continue to annihilate opponents by thumping the Buffalo Bills, 38-7, and beating the first three teams of the season with a 114-35 scoring advantage. In the win, Moss scored two touchdowns and Brady tossed 311 yards and four more scores.

Week 4: Patriots 34; Bengals 13

The Patriots remained one of the NFL's four undefeated teams Monday night by beating the shell-shocked Bengals, 34-13, with Sammy Morris leading the way on the ground with 117 yards rushing and a touchdown and Moss in the air with 102 yards receiving and two scores. Brady also threw three more touchdown passes in the win.

Week 5: Patriots 34; Browns 17

Pats Linebacker Junior Seau snagged two interceptions, including raising the ball high in the air during one in a showboating move, during the Pats 34-17 win over the Browns. It was New England's fifth blowout in five games this season. "It was a fun time and, obviously, I'm going to get reprimanded," Seau said after the game, referring to his showboating. He had two of the Patriots' three interceptions, with Asante Samuel picking off the other. Brady continued his stellar play by throwing three more touchdowns, tying an NFL record with at least three in each of his first five games. The Patriots became the fourth team to start a season with five wins by at least 17 points.

Week 6: Patriots 48; Cowboys 27

In a battle of 5-0 teams, despite being challenged early, the Patriots destroyed the Cowboys, 48-27. Brady was 31-of-46 for 388 yards and his five touchdown passes tied a franchise record and gave him an NFL record with at least three in each of the first six games of the season

After trailing the Cowboys early in the third quarter, 24-21, the Patriots outscored Dallas 27-3 to finish the game. Even backup running back Kyle Eckel joined in on the fun with his first career touchdown. The Patriots were one of two remaining unbeaten teams when the game ended.

Week 7: Patriots 49; Dolphins 28

Brady threw a team-record six touchdown passes to help the unbeaten Patriots rout the winless Dolphins, 49-28. Brady completed his first 11 passes for 220 yards and four scores, including throws of 35 and 50 yards to Moss, who fought through triple coverage on both occasions to make two highlight reel scoring catches. Brady's touchdown total exceeded his career high of five, set the previous week against Dallas. His other touchdown passes were caught by Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth and Kyle Brady. Welker also finished with 138 receiving yards.

Week 8: Patriots 52; Redskins 7

The Redskins entered Gillette Stadium with the fifth-ranked defense in the NFL. That meant nothing to the Patriots as they kept rolling with a 52-7 rout of Washington. The Patriots put up their highest point total in 28 years as Brady threw his career-high 30th touchdown pass in the game. Brady completed 29 of 38 passes for 306 yards and no interceptions. He also extended his NFL record to eight games at the start of a season with at least three touchdown passes. The Patriots first true challenge would come the following Sunday in Indianapolis, the place where they last lost in the AFC championship game nine months ago.

Week 9: Patriots 24; Colts 20

In what was hyped as the biggest regular season game of all time, the Patriots had to fight toe-to-toe on the road with the then unbeaten Colts to continue on the path to perfection. While the Pats faced a 10 point fourth quarter deficit, Brady, who always seems to be able to keep his poise and focus under pressure, threw two of his three touchdown passes in a four-minute span to beat the defending Super Bowl champion Colts, 24-20.

The Pats were trailing 20-10 with less than 10 minutes left in the game following a Peyton Manning quarterback sneak from the one yard line. Facing a loud and hostile crowd, Brady began the comeback from the Patriots' 42 yard line, when he hit Moss over the top of the much hyped Colts' safety Bob Sanders for 55 yards to the Colts 3 yard line. Sanders ended up getting injured on the play. The play set up a 3-yard touchdown pass to Welker.

The defense stepped up next when Rosevelt Colvin caused Manning to fumble, leading to a Colts' punt. On the Patriots next possession, Brady, on back-to-back plays, hit Donte Stallworth for 33 yards to the Colts 13 and the found Kevin Faulk over the middle for 13 yards and the go-ahead score with 3:15 left in the game. The defense closed the door on of a Colts comeback when Jarvis Green knocked the ball loose from Manning and Colvin recovered it to lock up the win.

Following the game, Patriots' linebacker Junior Seau said, "We were going against a hostile crowd, an undefeated team, we took our hats off to them. But we still played well enough to win."

Week 10: Patriots' Bye Week

Patriots were able to rest and get back some of their injured players.

Week 11: Patriots 56; Bills 10

The Patriots scored touchdowns on their first seven offensive possessions against the Buffalo Bills on their way to win their 10th straight game in the rout. Brady went 31-for-39 for 373 yards with five touchdown passes, four to Moss, as New England became the 10th team since 1970 to start a season 10-0.

Week 12: Patriots 31; Eagles 28

The next true test of the season came against the Eagles at home. They trailed the Philly, 28-24 midway the fourth quarter against the 22-point underdog Eagles, when Brady led a 69-yard drive ending with a Laurence Maroney 4-yard game-winning touchdown run. Asante Samuel had a strong game on defense for the Patriots when he returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown at the start of the game and he had a second pick to end a late Philadelphia drive as the Patriots beat the Eagles 31-28 to improve to 11-0.

Week 13: Patriots 27; Ravens 24

After just edging Philadelphia, the Patriots barely kept their pursuit of perfection alive by narrowly escaping Baltimore with a victory after they were trailing the Ravens by four points in the final minutes of the game. During that final drive, Brady drove the Pats 73 yards, including two fourth-down conversions, before finding Jabar Gaffney in the left corner of the end zone for the win.

Following the game, Brady said "I told [Gaffney] it was the best catch of his career and it was a great time to do it." As the biggest road favorite in a non-replacement game (19 points), the Patriots had to contend with a hostile crowd, swirling winds, and the occasional snow flurries to beat Baltimore, 27-24 and to improve their record to 12-0.

During the last drive, it appeared the Ravens had the Patriots stopped and the game won when they stuffed the Patriots on fourth-and-1 twice. With less than two minutes to go in the game and the Pats trailing the Ravens 24-20 and a fourth-and-1 at the Baltimore 30, Brady failed in his attempt to get the first down on a quarterback sneak. The Ravens defense stepped up and stuffed Brady and the perfect season was over. But to the chagrin of the Baltimore defenders, there was a whistle on the play. Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan called time out prior to Brady snapping the ball. Angry at the time out, the Ravens were ready again, albeit in vain, to stop the Patriots and they did it seemed, stuffing Pats running back Heath Evans, but Pats guard Russ Hochstein false started prior to the snap negating the play. The rest was history.

Week 14: Patriots 34; Steelers 13

Pittsburgh safety Anthony Smith learned a harsh lesson to never guarantee a victory against the Patriots. That lesson was fully realized at 3:06 in the fourth quarter during Sunday's game between the Pats and Steelers. With New England up 34-13 the thunderous chant "GUAR -AN-TEE! GUAR-AN-TEE! GUAR-AN-TEE! " reverberated around Gillette Stadium. It was directed at Smith on the Steelers sideline.

The humbling not only came from the fans, it came on the field. In the second quarter, Smith bit hard on the play action pass that led to Moss catching a 63 yard score down the middle of the field. Then Smith was burned again when Smith and the rest of the Steelers' secondary were fooled badly in the third quarter by the Patriots double lateral gadget play which ended in a 56 yard Tom Brady to Jabar Gaffney touchdown connection. The pass went right over Smith's outstretched right hand. The play also put an exclamation point on the 34-13 rout of the Steelers.

Pats receiver Randy Moss said beating Smith on the gadget play made the win so much sweeter. "It was us executing on all cylinders by the whole unit. It was a great call by Josh McDaniels and we just had to go out there and once [Brady] threw to me and I threw it back him and he threw it up and everybody was like, 'Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh.' And then, it was caught on [Anthony] Smith … it was all on Jabar [Gaffney] catching it on No. 27 [Smith.] It was really worth it."

Week 15: Patriots 20; Jets 10

In what was billed as the "Spy-gate" rematch, the Patriots were forced to change their style of a passing team to a running offense while facing the Jets in rain, strong wind and chilly gusts above 20 mph. New England's running back Laurence Maroney was true to the task rushing for 104 yards and a touchdown for the victory. It was only the fourth time this season a New England rusher surpassed 100 yards. The Pats needed Maroney's big game, because Brady had his worst game of the year in the bad weather. He didn't throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season and completed 14 of 27 passes for only 140 yards and an interception.

After the Patriots easily beat the Jets, 20-10, to improve to 14-0, Bill Belichick seemingly turned into a happy schoolboy after beating his former protégé, Eric Mangini, in their first meeting since the "Spy-gate" controversy.

Week 16: Patriots 28; Dolphins 7

The Patriots became the first team to go 15-0 in the regular season with a 28-7 dominating win over the hapless Dolphins With the win, the Patriots came six points shy in breaking the 1998 Viking's single-season record of 556. Brady came one touchdown pass shy of Manning's NFL record of 49 touchdown passes set in 2004, tying Dan Marino on the list with 48. Moss came one touchdown reception shy of tying Jerry Rice's mark of 22 set in 12 games in 1987, a strike year.

Maroney had a career-high 156 yards on 14 carries, including a 59 touchdown scamper in the second quarter. Brady finished the game 18-for-33, with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Week 17: Patriots 38; Giants 35

The Patriots had to overcome their largest deficit of the season in the second half against the Giants as New England became the first NFL team since the 1972 Dolphins to win every game on the schedule to go 16-0. The victory saw Brady and the offense to erase a 12-point deficit, while rewriting the record books in the process.

Brady lead three scoring drives, including the record breaking 65-yard touchdown bomb to Randy Moss along the right sidelines. The play before the go ahead score to Moss, he dropped a badly under-thrown Brady pass at his shoelaces despite being wide open. But on the next play Brady and Moss connected for the score. In gaining their 19th straight win over two seasons, the Patriots won the game on Brady's 50th touchdown pass of the year and Moss' 23rd TD reception, both NFL records. Brady beat Manning's mark of 49 touchdown passes and Moss broke Rice's record of 22 TD receptions. The Patriots also finished with 589 points for the season, an NFL single-season record.

After their 16th win, Wes Welker said, "We were excited," he said who shattered the franchise record for most receptions in a season with 112 catches, including 11 against the Giants. Troy Brown had the previous mark of 101 set in 2002. "There were some close games like this and to come back and win the game is pretty gratifying."

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