Quick hits on Belichick finales

December, 30, 2011
12/30/11
9:00
AM ET
One quick-hit thought for each regular-season finale in Bill Belichick's tenure as Patriots head coach:

2010: A 38-7 win over the Dolphins at home, with Brian Hoyer taking over in the second quarter and the No. 1 seed in hand.

2009: Wes Welker tears his ACL in a road game vs. Texans and the image of him burying his head in a towel while being carted off resonates, stunting any momentum (34-27 loss) heading into playoffs as No. 3 seed.

2008: On a day with intense winds in Buffalo, Chris Hanson delivers one of the best punts in team history and the Patriots win 13-0, but they don't get the help needed to earn a playoff berth.

2007: Felt like a Super Bowl in the Meadowlands, as the Patriots top the Giants in dramatic fashion to cap off a 16-0 regular season.

2006: New Year's Eve at Tennessee, with tempers flaring as Rodney Harrison re-injures his knee on what some players felt was a cheap hit by receiver Bobby Wade (40-23 win and No. 4 playoff seed); Vinny Testaverde fires a TD pass for Patriots to put himself in the record books.

2005: Dropkick for Doug Flutie; think we'll ever find out if the Patriots preferred the 28-26 home loss to the Dolphins to set up a first-round playoff matchup with the Jaguars instead of the Steelers?

2004: Felt like the 49ers, making a cross-country flight with soon-to-be-fired head coach Dennis Erickson, had little interest in being at Gillette Stadium (Patriots win, 21-7).

2003: Season comes full circle as the Patriots -- who had lost the season-opener at Bufalo 31-0 in the Lawyer Milloy Bowl -- record a 31-0 victory over the Bills at Gillette to roll into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed.

2002: Entertaining 27-24 overtime win over the Dolphins at Gillette, but the Patriots needed a win and Jets loss to get into the playoffs and the Jets don't cooperate as the up-and-down year ends early with a 9-7 record.

2001: A road game at Carolina, which was moved from Week 2 after the Sept. 11 attacks, produces a 38-6 win against the 1-15 Panthers in George Seifert's finale as Carolina head coach; six straight wins entering the playoffs en route to a magical playoff run (Tuck Rule, beating Steelers on road, upsetting Rams in Super Bowl).

2000: A 27-24 loss at Miami in which the Dolphins score 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter after linebacker Zach Thomas intercepts Drew Bledsoe and the Dolphins march for a winning field goal with 15 seconds left; teams called back on the field for one final play -- a Michael Bishop Hail Mary (Tom Brady is inactive and the Patriots finish 5-11 and in last place in the AFC East).

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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