- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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Snow is expected to pile up this afternoon and into the weekend in New England, and the wintry weather reminds us of some memorable moments in Patriots history with a snowy twist. The Patriots have had a lot of success defending their home turf with snow in the forecast, usually (but not always) in games held between December and January.
Here's a look at five of the most memorable moments featuring the Patriots ... and snow.
5. Snow can't slow Patriots' offense: Patriots defeat the Titans 59-0, Oct. 18, 2009. Patriots defeat the Cardinals 47-7, Dec. 21, 2008. Not even the snow could slow down the Patriots on either of these Sundays. An unusual October storm left Gillette Stadium painted white when the Titans came to town in 2009, but the Patriots' offense was virtually unstoppable despite the difficult conditions. Tom Brady threw for five touchdowns in the second quarter alone, the most by any player since 1950, and the Patriots set franchise records in points and total offense (619 yards). Brady's day was one for the ages, as he started the game 19 for 20. That win came less than a year after the Patriots throttled the Cardinals at Gillette Stadium by a similar margin. Matt Cassel was the star on this day, throwing for 345 yards and 3 touchdowns, and running back Lamont Jordan added a pair of rushing scores.
4. Snow-fetti: Patriots defeat the Dolphins 12-0, Dec. 7, 2003. The Patriots' offense didn't need to score any points on this Sunday, as linebacker Tedy Bruschi took care of business for his team, returning an interception five yards for the only touchdown of the game. Bruschi's fourth-quarter score put the game out of reach, and prompted a unique celebration from the fans in attendance that has since become a staple of snow-filled games in New England: using the snow that had piled up in the stands to throw up in the air like confetti. After the game, head coach Bill Belichick joked that he should consider using Bruschi on offense, because every time he touched the football, he scored a touchdown.
3. 2003 AFC Championship Game: Patriots defeat the Colts, 24-14, Jan. 18, 2004. As they say, good things come in threes, and Patriots cornerback Ty Law intercepted Colts quarterback Peyton Manning three times on this day, while defensive lineman Jarvis Green corralled Manning for three sacks. The win gave the Patriots yet another victory over Manning's Colts, and led to the team's second Super Bowl appearance in three seasons. The snow wasn't overwhelming in this game, but the grass field at Gillette Stadium was torn up, something that played into the favor of the Patriots, as the Colts were a team built on speed and precision at that time.
2. The "Snowplow" game: Patriots defeat the Dolphins 3-0, Dec. 12, 1982. Heavy snowfall began early in this game, which followed driving rains earlier in the day. The result was a slick Astroturf at then Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough, and the offenses struggled all afternoon. A rule had been established for this game that entitled officials to call a time-out and bring a snowplow onto the field in order to clear the yard markers, but efforts to keep the field clear throughout the game were futile. With the game tied at 0 late in the fourth quarter, the Patriots lined up for a 33-yard field-goal try, and then head coach Ron Meyer assigned snowplow operator Mark Henderson (who was on a work-release program from prison) the task of clearing a spot for kicker John Smith. Smith would connect on the kick, giving his team the win. Unsurprisingly, Dolphins head coach Don Shula was unhappy with the spot being cleared for Smith, and the following year the NFL would ban snowplows during games.
1. The "Snow Bowl" game: Patriots defeat the Raiders 16-13 (overtime), Jan. 19, 2002. This game has multiple wrinkles of lasting intrigue, as Adam Vinatieri's game-tying field goal from 45 yards out is considered one of the best and most clutch in franchise (and NFL) history. Snow left the lines on the field virtually indistinguishable, and Vinatieri was able to generate just enough footing and power to line-drive the football over the goal post. This game also featured the infamous "tuck rule" play in which a near fumble by Tom Brady was ruled an incomplete pass. The win was the final game played in Foxborough Stadium, and propelled the Patriots to the AFC Championship, during which they would defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Talk about going out in style.
Your turn: What are some of your other lasting memories from the Patriots playing in the snow? Chime in on the comments section below to share.