Drew Bledsoe

Drew McQueen Bledsoe (born February 14, 1972)[1] is a former American football quarterback who played 14 seasons in the National Football League (NFL), primarily with the New England Patriots. He served as New England's starting quarterback from 1993 to 2001 and was considered the face of the Patriots franchise during his eight seasons with the team.[2]

The first overall pick in 1993 NFL Draft, Bledsoe helped improve the fortunes of the Patriots, who had fallen on hard times.[3][4] Under his tenure as starting quarterback, the Patriots ended a seven-season postseason drought, qualified for the playoffs four times, and made one Super Bowl appearance in XXXI. He was also named to three Pro Bowls and became the youngest quarterback to play in the NFL's all-star game at the time with his 1995 appearance.

Following a period of declining success and two consecutive seasons where the Patriots missed the playoffs, Bledsoe suffered a near-fatal injury early in the 2001 season and was replaced as starter by backup Tom Brady. Bledsoe was unable to regain his starting position after he was medically cleared to play due to Brady's success with the team, which culminated with the franchise's first Super Bowl title in XXXVI. Bledsoe subsequently retired after short stints with the Buffalo Bills, where he made a fourth Pro Bowl appearance, and the Dallas Cowboys.

While his tenure with the Patriots would ultimately be eclipsed by Brady, Bledsoe is recognized for helping rebuild the franchise, including leading the team to victory in the 2001 AFC Championship after Brady was injured en route to their first Super Bowl win.[2][5][6] For his accomplishments in New England, he was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2011.

Drew Bledsoe
refer to caption
Bledsoe at Troy Brown's Patriots Hall of Fame induction in 2012
No. 11
Position:Quarterback
Personal information
Born:February 14, 1972 (age 47)
Ellensburg, Washington
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:238 lb (108 kg)
Career information
High school:Walla Walla
(Walla Walla, Washington)
College:Washington State
NFL Draft:1993 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Career history
Career highlights and awards

To surpass 10,000 passing yards[9]

  • Youngest quarterback to surpass 20,000 passing yards [10]
  • most pass attempts in a game with 70 [11]
  • Most completions in a single game with 45 [12]
Career NFL statistics
Completion percentage:57.1
TDINT:251–206
Passing yards:44,611
Passer rating:77.1
Player stats at NFL.com

High school years

Bledsoe attended Walla Walla High School and was a letterman in football, basketball and track. In football, he was named a first team All-State selection by the Tacoma News Tribune. In track, he competed in the throwing events, recording top-throws of 45.34 meters in the discus throw and 54.70 meters in the javelin throw.[7]

College years

Bledsoe had a record-setting career in his three years at Washington State. After gaining the starting job in the end of the 1990 season as a true freshman (joined later by Jeff Tuel as the only two in school history), he quickly became the face of the Cougars offense. In 1992 Bledsoe led his team to a 9–3 record (ranking #10 in the coaches poll and #12 in the AP) and a 31–28 win against the Utah Utes in the Copper Bowl. Bledsoe completed 30-46 passes for 476 yards and 2 touchdowns in the game. He also established WSU records in single-game passing yards (476), single-season pass completions (241), and single-season passing yards (3,946). He was named the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year.

Following an impressive junior year Bledsoe decided to forgo his senior season and enter the 1993 NFL Draft. In the 34 starts of his collegiate career he amassed 9,373 yards, 532 completions and 66 touchdowns.[8]

NFL career

New England Patriots: 1993–2001

Bledsoe was drafted first overall in the 1993 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. He started right away for the Patriots in his rookie season, as they improved from two to five wins.

On November 13, 1994, the Patriots had won just three of their first nine games and were losing, 20–3, to the Minnesota Vikings at halftime. Bledsoe led a comeback victory in which the Patriots won, 26–20, in overtime, as he set single game records in pass completions (45) and attempts (70).[9] Due to his performance, Bledsoe was selected to his first Pro Bowl as an alternate.

Following a difficult 1995 season, Bledsoe turned it around in 1996 ranking among the top passers in the league with the help of wide receiver Terry Glenn, thus pushing the Patriots to reach the playoffs again and winning the AFC championship against the Jacksonville Jaguars, 20–6. This led to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXI, where they lost to the Green Bay Packers by the score of 35–21. Bledsoe completed 25 of 48 passes for 253 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions in the loss. He was also named a starter for the Pro Bowl that season, the second of his career.

Bledsoephoto
Bledsoe in 2001, during his tenure with the Patriots.

During the 1997 season, Bledsoe helped the Patriots win five of their final seven games to once again qualify for the playoffs, the fourth time in eight years as a Patriots starter he would lead the team to a postseason appearance. The Patriots lost in the second round to the Pittsburgh Steelers, however Bledsoe built a career-high 87.7 passer rating, passed for 3,706 yards, tossed 28 touchdowns, and earned his third Pro Bowl invitation.

The following year, he became the first NFL quarterback to complete game-winning touchdown passes in the final 30 seconds of two consecutive games.[10] In doing so, he propelled New England into the postseason for the third straight year. He completed these come-from-behind efforts while playing with a broken index finger on his throwing hand, an injury that would later sideline him for the postseason.

Bledsoe started the 1999 season very strong, with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions as the Patriots held a 6–2 mid-season record. However, Bledsoe subsequently threw only six touchdowns versus 17 interceptions, and the team finished with an 8–8 record. The team's slide continued into the 2000 season as the Patriots ended with a record of 5–11. While Bledsoe threw a then-career low 13 interceptions that year, he was sacked 45 times.

In March 2001, Bledsoe was signed to a then-record ten-year, $103 million contract.[11] Bledsoe did not finish his career with the Patriots, nor see the opening of the new Gillette Stadium. During the second game of the 2001 season, Bledsoe was hit by New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis and suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest, which almost resulted in his death.[12] Replacing Bledsoe, backup Tom Brady took the starting position and led New England to the playoffs.[13] Though he never regained his starting role, Bledsoe proved integral to his team's playoff run when he replaced a hobbled Brady in the AFC Championship Game against Pittsburgh. Bledsoe, starting from the Steelers 40-yard line, capped a scoring drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to David Patten to seal a 24–17 victory. In winning the conference championship game, Bledsoe completed 10 of 21 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. It was the second time in six years (1996 and 2001) that Bledsoe was an integral part in leading the Patriots to a Super Bowl appearance, and during the on-field trophy presentation Bledsoe tossed his father a game ball.[14] Tom Brady started as quarterback as the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI, with kicker Adam Vinatieri hitting a game-winning 48-yard field goal as time expired.[15]

Appreciative of his lengthy tenure with the team, Patriots fans cheered Bledsoe in each of his three returns to New England as a visiting player.[16]

Buffalo Bills: 2002–2004

A change of scenery—by way of a trade[17]—to Bledsoe's former division rival Buffalo seemed to give him a bit of rejuvenation in 2002. He had one of his best seasons ever, passing for 4,359 yards and 24 touchdowns and making his fourth trip to the Pro Bowl. In Week 2 against the Minnesota Vikings, Bledsoe set a team record with 463 yards passing in an overtime win. He continued his strong play in 2003 as the Bills began the year 2–0. However, a flurry of injuries stymied the Bills offense; they failed to score a touchdown in three consecutive games en route to a 6–10 season. In 2004, they fell one game short of making the playoffs; a late season winning streak was wasted when Bledsoe and the Bills performed poorly against the Pittsburgh Steelers backups in the season finale.[18]

Bledsoe was released by the Bills after the 2004 season to make way for backup quarterback J. P. Losman. When Bledsoe was later signed by the Dallas Cowboys, he expressed bitterness with the Bills for the move, stating "I can't wait to go home and dress my kids in little stars and get rid of the other team's [Buffalo's] stuff."[19]

Drew Bledsoe stretching
Bledsoe stretching before a game with the Cowboys in 2005.

Dallas Cowboys: 2005–2006

Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys coin toss 2006
Bledsoe with Greg Ellis in a 2006 game.

Bledsoe went on to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, where he was reunited with former coach Bill Parcells. Bledsoe was intended to be a long-term solution as quarterback for the Cowboys. Said Bledsoe on the day he signed with Dallas, "Bill [Parcells] wants me here, and being the starter. I anticipate that being the case and not for one year." He signed for $23 million for three years.[20]

During his tenure with the Cowboys, he threw for over 3,000 yards in a season for the ninth time in his career, tying Warren Moon for fourth in NFL history. That season, Bledsoe led five 4th quarter/OT game-winning drives to keep the Cowboys' playoff hopes alive until the final day of the season.[21] Though the team ultimately failed to reach the playoffs, Bledsoe had led them to a 9-7 record, an improvement over the 6-10 mark that Vinny Testaverde had finished with in 2004.

However, in 2006, his final season with the Cowboys, Bledsoe's play became erratic, so much so that six games into the season he was replaced by future Pro Bowler Tony Romo. Shortly after the end of the 2006 season, Bledsoe was released by the Cowboys. Unwilling to be relegated to a backup position, Bledsoe announced his retirement from the NFL on April 11, 2007.[22]

Retirement and legacy

When Bledsoe retired in April 2007, he left fifth in NFL history in pass attempts (6,717) and completions (3,839), seventh in passing yards (44,611), and 13th in touchdown passes (251).

On May 16, 2011, Bledsoe was voted by Patriots fans into the Patriots Hall of Fame.[2] He was formally inducted in a public ceremony outside The Hall at Patriot Place on September 17, 2011. Bledsoe beat former head coach Bill Parcells and defensive lineman Houston Antwine in a fan vote.

In July 2012, Bledsoe was named the 30th greatest quarterback of the NFL's post-merger era by Football Nation.[23]

In January 2018, Bledsoe was named honorary captain of the New England Patriots as they hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game. Bledsoe's Patriots had beaten the Jaguars 20–6 in the 1997 AFC Championship Game to advance to their second Super Bowl. Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement "Drew Bledsoe played such an integral role in our efforts to rebuild the Patriots. He gave fans hope for the future by providing many memorable moments during his record-breaking career. For a franchise that had only hosted one playoff game in its first 35 years, winning the AFC Championship Game at home in Foxboro and taking the Patriots to the playoffs for three consecutive years were unimaginable goals prior to his arrival."[24][25] The Patriots defeated the Jaguars 24–20 to advance to their tenth Super Bowl appearance and Bledsoe presented the Lamar Hunt Trophy to Kraft.[26]

Personal life

Bledsoe's parents were school teachers in Ellensburg, Washington. His mother was a teacher at Lewis & Clark middle school, located in Yakima Washington. His father was a coach who ran a football camp in Washington state, and Drew was able to interact with the professional players and coaches who helped his father run the camp.[27]

The Bledsoe family moved five times before Drew was in the sixth grade. They finally settled in Walla Walla, Washington, where Bledsoe's father coached football at the high school. The only time Drew played a whole season of football without ever starting at quarterback was in seventh grade at Pioneer Junior High. In high school, with his father as his coach, he won numerous awards, including selection to the Western 100 and Washington State Player of the Year. He was heavily recruited by colleges such as the University of Miami and the University of Washington, but he decided to attend Washington State, which was a mere two-hour drive from home.[27]

Drew and his wife Maura live in Bend, Oregon and have four children: sons Stuart, John, Henry, and daughter Healy. He coached his sons, Stuart and John, at Summit High School.[28] His son John was a walk-on player on the Washington State football team in 2017.[29]

While playing for the New England Patriots, Drew Bledsoe lived in Bridgewater, Massachusetts on Tabway Lane, and in Medfield, Massachusetts, in a house that was later purchased by retired Major League Baseball player Curt Schilling.[30]

After his retirement in 2007, Bledsoe founded the Doubleback Winery along with close friend Chris Figgins.[31] The company's grapes, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, are harvested from McQueen Vineyards and Flying B Vineyards, located in and around Walla Walla, Washington[32]. The wine has had success recently, placing 53rd overall in Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines.[33] His first vintage which was 2007 vintage quickly sold out of its initial 600 cases.[34] In 2012, Marvin R. Shanken invited Ernie Els, Greg Norman, Tom Seaver and Bledsoe to introduce his wines, despite Shanken's disdain for the New England Patriots.[35] He also recorded a message to both Tony Romo and Dak Prescott in 2017 in his home, which also showed his red wine collection.[36]

In his spare time, Bledsoe works with many philanthropic organizations.[28]

Bledsoe is the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Summit High School in Bend, Oregon, having held the position since 2012.[37]

NFL career statistics and accolades

Regular season

Year Team Games Passing Rushing
G GS Att Comp Pct Yds TD Int Rtg Att Yds Avg TD
1993 NE 13 12 429 214 49.9 2,494 15 15 65.0 32 82 2.6 0
1994 NE 16 16 691 400 57.9 4,555 25 27 73.6 44 40 0.9 0
1995 NE 15 15 636 323 50.8 3,507 13 16 63.7 20 28 1.4 0
1996 NE 16 16 623 373 59.9 4,086 27 15 83.7 24 27 1.1 0
1997 NE 16 16 522 314 60.2 3,706 28 15 87.7 28 55 2.0 0
1998 NE 14 14 481 263 54.7 3,633 20 14 80.9 28 44 1.6 0
1999 NE 16 16 539 305 56.6 3,985 19 21 75.6 42 101 2.4 0
2000 NE 16 16 531 312 58.8 3,291 17 13 77.3 47 158 3.4 2
2001 NE 2 2 66 40 60.6 400 2 2 75.3 5 18 3.4 0
2002 BUF 16 16 610 375 61.5 4,359 24 15 86.0 27 67 2.5 2
2003 BUF 16 16 471 274 58.2 2,860 11 12 73.0 24 29 1.2 2
2004 BUF 16 16 450 256 56.9 2,932 20 16 76.6 22 37 1.7 0
2005 DAL 16 16 499 300 60.1 3,639 23 17 83.7 34 50 1.5 2
2006 DAL 6 6 170 90 53.3 1,164 7 8 69.2 8 28 3.5 2
Career 194 193 6,717 3,839 57.2 44,611 251 206 77.2 385 764 2.0 10

Postseason records and statistics

  • 4–3 record in postseason
  • 3–3 in the postseason as a starter (3-0 at home)
  • 252 passes attempted
  • 129 passes completed
  • 51.1 Completion Percentage
  • 54.9 QB Rating
  • 1335 passing yards
  • 6 passing touchdowns
  • 12 passes intercepted
  • 21 passing attempts per interception in the postseason
  • 42 passing attempts per TD in the postseason
  • 2–0 in AFC Championship games (in last Patriots appearance came off bench for injured Brady to win at Pittsburgh January 2002)
  • 2 Super Bowl Appearances 1 Super Bowl championship (2001, New England Patriots)
  • Perfect Passer Rating (1993 vs the Indianapolis Colts) [38]

Accomplishments

  • His 4,452 pass attempts in his first eight seasons rank second to Brett Favre whose 4,456 attempts are the most by a quarterback during any eight-year period in NFL history
  • He passed for 3,291 yards in 2000, his seventh consecutive season with at least 3,000 yards passing.
  • Bledsoe was durable during his career, playing in 126 of his first 132 games since entering the league in 1993, and never missing a start after leaving NE until benched in 2006.
  • In 2002, his first season in Buffalo, he set single season records for yards, attempts, completions on an offense that had 7 other franchise records.
  • In 1998, he directed the Patriots to the playoffs for the fourth time in six seasons.
  • In 1994, he set Patriots franchise single-season passing records for attempts (691), completions (400) and yards passing (4,555; surpassed by Tom Brady in 2007).
  • In 1995, he set a franchise record by attempting 179 consecutive passes without an interception (10/23/95 to 11/26/95; since surpassed by Tom Brady).
  • At the age of 23, he became the youngest player in NFL history to surpass the 10,000-yard passing plateau when he connected with Ben Coates on a 6-yard completion just before the half vs. the Jets (12/10/95).
  • Prior to 1994, the Patriots' single-season record for passing yards was 3,465 yards. Bledsoe eclipsed that mark six consecutive seasons.
  • At the age of 22, he became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to play in the Pro Bowl.
  • Led 31 career 4th quarter/OT game-winning drives and holds the record for most TD passes in overtime with 4.
  • Bledsoe was the last quarterback to have led the Buffalo Bills to a winning season until Kyle Orton did so in 2014.

While Bledsoe has thrown for a high number of yards and attempts, a frequent criticism is that they are based on volume (attempts, completions, yards) rather than efficiency (passer rating, TD-to-INT ratio, yards per attempt) proving only that he has thrown a great number of times, not that he has thrown well.[39] According to sports writer Don Banks, Bledsoe's large career totals "reveal more about his longevity than about his excellence".[40]

Bledsoe ranks fifth all-time in completions (3,839), seventh in passing yards (44,611), and 13th in touchdown passes (251). Bledsoe's career (57.2) completion percentage is lower than all recent Hall of Fame quarterbacks with the exception of John Elway. Bledsoe's NFL career passer rating of (77.1) surpasses nine Hall of Fame Quarterbacks. Bledsoe's 37 regular season 300-yard passing games ranks 9th in league history. He also ranks 6th (with 6) in most career regular season 400-yard passing games by an NFL quarterback. He was selected to the Pro Bowl four times (in 1994, 1996, 1997, 2002). Bledsoe was eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Drew Bledsoe Biography". Biography.com. A&E Networks. Retrieved November 5, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Bledsoe is 2011 Fans' Choice". The Hall at Patriot Place. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved July 27, 2011.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 24, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Washington State Scout". Washington State Scout. July 9, 2002. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  9. ^ Patriots Official Website. Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved August 26, 2007.
  10. ^ Patriots Official Website Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved August 20, 2007.
  11. ^ . September 27, 2007 https://web.archive.org/web/20070927012113/http://www.patriots.com/alumni/index.cfm?ac=alumnibiosdetail&bio=119. Missing or empty |title= (help). Retrieved August 20, 2007.
  12. ^ NFL Network
  13. ^ http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000707463/article/tom-brady-drew-bledsoe-reflect-on-pivotal-hit-15-years-later
  14. ^ [5]
  15. ^ Bledsoe Heads to Buffalo for 2003 Pick ESPN.com. Retrieved August 20, 2007.
  16. ^ https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2002/12/09/patriots-expose-drew-bledsoe-return-foxborough/Ss3KgqDfkKffci6pdjTplK/story
  17. ^ "Boston Sports Media Watch » Bledsoe Traded As stated here". Bostonsportsmedia.com. April 21, 2002. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  18. ^ Maiorana, Sal (February 17, 2005). "Bills saying goodbye to Bledsoe". USA Today. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  19. ^ Bledsoe Rejoins Parcells and Plans to Start for Cowboys at The New York Times
  20. ^ USA Today: Bledsoe expecting long, prosperous stay in Dallas
  21. ^ JT-SW.com. Retrieved August 20, 2007.
  22. ^ "Bledsoe retires, ends 14-year career". ESPN. April 12, 2007. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  23. ^ "Top 100 Modern Quarterbacks: 40-21". Football Nation. July 26, 2012. Archived from the original on October 30, 2012.
  24. ^ [6]
  25. ^ [7]
  26. ^ [8]
  27. ^ a b Collins, Louise Mooney; Speace, Geri J. (1995). Newsmakers, The People Behind Today's Headlines. New York: Gale Research Inc. pp. 32–35. ISBN 0-8103-5745-3.
  28. ^ a b No sour grapes from retired Bledsoe Dallas Morning News. October 14, 2007. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
  29. ^ "Drew Bledsoe watches as WSU Cougars have an intense first padded practice of fall camp". The Seattle Times. August 4, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  30. ^ Boston Magazine (May 15, 2015), On the Market: Curt Schilling’s House, retrieved January 16, 2018
  31. ^ "The Story - Doubleback". Doubleback. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  32. ^ "Doubleback -". Doubleback. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
  33. ^ Peter King (November 29, 2010). "Josh McDaniels tape; Cortland Finnegan-Andre Johnson fight; more Week 12". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 30, 2010.
  34. ^ Catching up with former No. 1 pick Drew Bledsoe - Shutdown Corner - NFL Blog - Yahoo! Sports
  35. ^ Sports Legend, Wine Lover: Drew Bledsoe
  36. ^ NFL Network (April 4, 2017), Drew Bledsoe's Advice to Tony Romo on Being Replaced | Passing Seasons | NFL 360, retrieved November 8, 2017
  37. ^ Mitch Stevens (September 30, 2016). "Drew Bledsoe coaching his sons on Oregon high school football team". Max Preps. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  38. ^ http://www.nfl.com/player/drewbledsoe/2499683/gamelogs
  39. ^ CHFF classic: The last word on Bledsoe ColdHardFootballFacts.com. Retrieved June 30, 2007.
  40. ^ "No Hall call for Bledsoe". SportsIllustrated.com. April 13, 2007. Archived from the original on April 16, 2007. Retrieved June 30, 2007.

External links

1990 Washington State Cougars football team

The 1990 Washington State Cougars football team was an American football team that represented Washington State University in the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10) during the 1990 NCAA Division I-A football season. In their second season under head coach Mike Price, the Cougars compiled a 3–8 record (2–6 against Pac-10 opponents), finished in ninth place in the Pac-10, and were outscored by their opponents by a combined total of 381 to 286.The team's statistical leaders included Drew Bledsoe with 1,386 passing yards, Shaumbe Wright-Fair with 739 rushing yards, and Phillip Bobo with 758 receiving yards.They played their home games on campus at Martin Stadium in Pullman.

1991 Washington State Cougars football team

The 1991 Washington State Cougars football team was an American football team that represented Washington State University in the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10) during the 1991 NCAA Division I-A football season. In their third season under head coach Mike Price, the Cougars compiled a 4–7 record (3–5 against Pac-10 opponents), finished in a tie for sixth place in the Pac-10, and were outscored by their opponents by a combined total of 340 to 280.The team's statistical leaders included Drew Bledsoe with 2,741 passing yards, Shaumbe Wright-Fair with 843 rushing yards, and Phillip Bobo with 759 receiving yards.

1992 Washington State Cougars football team

The 1992 Washington State Cougars football team was an American football team that represented Washington State University in the Pacific-10 Conference (Pac-10) during the 1992 NCAA Division I-A football season. In their fourth season under head coach Mike Price, the Cougars compiled a 9–3 record (5–3 against Pac-10 opponents), finished in a tie for third place in the Pac-10, and outscored their opponents by a combined total of 337 to 281.The team's statistical leaders included Drew Bledsoe with 3,246 passing yards, Shaumbe Wright-Fair with 1,331 rushing yards, and C. J. Davis with 1,024 receiving yards.Home games were played on campus at Martin Stadium in Pullman.

1994 New England Patriots season

The 1994 New England Patriots season was the team's 35th season, and 25th in the National Football League. It was the first under owner Robert Kraft, who purchased the team after preventing previous owner James Orthwein from moving the Patriots to St. Louis. The Patriots finished the season with a record of ten wins and six losses, and finished tied for first in the AFC's Eastern division.

The Patriots began the 1994 season with a 3–6 record before winning their final seven games, finishing 10–6 and qualifying the playoffs. The Patriots were just two seasons removed from a 2-win season, and made the playoffs for the first time since 1986 and only the seventh time in the team's history. It was also their first winning season since 1988. The winning streak started with a 26–20 overtime win over the Minnesota Vikings.

1995 New England Patriots season

The 1995 New England Patriots season was the team's 36th, and 26th in the National Football League. The Patriots finished the season with a record of six wins and ten losses, and finished fourth in the AFC East division. Unlike the previous year, Drew Bledsoe had a poor season by throwing just 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions and completed just 50.8% of his passes. On the other hand, rookie running back Curtis Martin shined with a Pro Bowl season and would be the Patriots' feature back for two more seasons before being traded to the New York Jets in 1998.

1996 New England Patriots season

The 1996 New England Patriots season was the franchise's 27th season in the National Football League and the 37th overall. They finished with a record of eleven wins and five losses, and finished first in the AFC East division.

After a disappointing 1995 season, Drew Bledsoe bounced back with 4,086 passing yards and threw 27 touchdown passes to just 15 interceptions while Curtis Martin had another Pro Bowl season. The team lost Super Bowl XXXI to the Green Bay Packers.

1998 New England Patriots season

The 1998 New England Patriots season was the franchise's 29th season in the National Football League and the 39th overall. They finished with a 9–7 record, good for fourth place in the division but also a playoff berth; they lost in the first round to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In the offseason, the Patriots tendered restricted free agent running back Curtis Martin with the highest possible tender, which would return the Patriots first- and third-round draft picks if any team were to sign him and the Patriots were to decide not to match the offer. Fueling the rivalry between the two teams, the New York Jets and head coach Bill Parcells, who had resigned from the Patriots two years earlier, signed Martin, the 1995 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, and per restricted free agency rules ceded their first- and third-round picks in the 1998 NFL Draft to the Patriots. With the first-round pick the Patriots selected another running back Robert Edwards, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in his rookie campaign. Suffering a broken finger in November, veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe was unable to start the team's final two regular season games and was replaced by Scott Zolak. With a 9–7 record the Patriots finished fourth in the AFC East but earned a sixth seed in the AFC playoffs. With Zolak still at the helm, the Patriots were defeated on the road by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the second straight playoff defeat for second-year head coach Pete Carroll, and is one of only two games the Patriots have ever lost to the Jaguars, the second being in 2018.

2002 Buffalo Bills season

The 2002 Buffalo Bills season was the team's forty-third season.

The Bills acquired quarterback Drew Bledsoe from the New England Patriots on draft weekend in exchange for Buffalo's first round pick in the 2003 draft. (The Bills would regain that first round pick via a sign-and-trade of Peerless Price, coming off a breakout season, to the Atlanta Falcons for Atlanta's first round pick after the 2002 season.) Bledsoe brought instant credibility to Buffalo's inept passing game; the Bills' offense scored the 6th most points in the AFC in 2002, after having scored the fifth fewest in the entire league the previous season.

The season saw the Bills change their uniform which lasted until 2011.

2003 Buffalo Bills season

The 2003 Buffalo Bills season was their 44th in the league. The team failed to improve upon their previous season's output of 8–8, instead finishing 6–10. The team missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

The Bills started the season strong, opening the season with a dominating 31–0 blowout of the New England Patriots (They would not win another game against the Patriots until 2011). It was their largest margin of victory in a season opener since 1992, and their first regular season shutout in four years. The Bills' second game was a convincing three-touchdown win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. But Buffalo lost seven of their next nine games, and finished the season with three consecutive losses. The Bills' final game of the season was a 31–0 shutout loss to the New England Patriots – the reverse of the score by which the Bills beat New England in Week One.

Head coach Gregg Williams's contract was not renewed after the 2003 season.Van Miller, the team's longtime play-by-play announcer, announced his retirement after week 2 of the season; his retirement took effect at the end of the season.

2005 Dallas Cowboys season

The 2005 Dallas Cowboys season was the 46th season for the team in the National Football League. The season began with the team trying to improve on their 6–10 record in 2004. Despite a 7–3 start, the Cowboys ended the season with a 9–7 record and narrowly missed the playoffs.

2006 Dallas Cowboys season

The 2006 Dallas Cowboys season was the 47th season for the team in the National Football League. The season began with the team trying to improve on their 9–7 record in 2005. The base offense was changed to a 2-TE formation. Several high-profile free agents were signed including controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens and kicker Mike Vanderjagt. Veteran defensive end Greg Ellis was also converted into a linebacker.

Although veteran Drew Bledsoe was the initial starter at quarterback, fourth-year backup Tony Romo replaced Bledsoe at half-time of their week 7 matchup with the Giants. Romo became the starter in week 8 due to Bledsoe's rough starts with frequent sacks and interceptions. Romo initially played very well, going 5–1 in his first six NFL starts, including a win over the previously unbeaten Indianapolis Colts, but finished the season 1–3 with six touchdowns, six interceptions and two fumbles lost. The Cowboys secured a playoff berth for the first time since 2003, but did not win the division when in the final week they were defeated by the then 2–13 Lions, and wound up losing their first week in the playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks, a game in which Romo botched the hold on a go-ahead field goal inside the final two minutes.

When Romo started the Thanksgiving Day game against Tampa Bay, it marked the 7th different starting Cowboys quarterback in the last 7 Thanksgiving Day games (Troy Aikman, Ryan Leaf, Chad Hutchison, Quincy Carter, Drew Henson, Drew Bledsoe and Romo).

This was Bill Parcells' final season as a head coach as he would go on to retire following the end of the season.

Colts–Patriots rivalry

The Colts–Patriots rivalry is a National Football League (NFL) rivalry between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots. It is considered one of the most famous rivalries in the NFL. The two teams have combined for seven Super Bowl victories (six by the Patriots) and ten AFC Championships (eight by the Patriots) since 2001, while both are noted for their organizational excellence.The nature of this rivalry is somewhat ironic because while the Colts and Patriots were AFC East division rivals from 1970–2001 (dating prior to the Colts' move from Baltimore to Indianapolis), their intensified enmity wasn't prevalent until Indianapolis was moved into the newly formed AFC South following the 2001 season as part of the NFL's realignment. Following New England's 43–22 win in the 2013–14 playoffs the Patriots lead the series with nine wins (three in the playoffs) versus five wins (one playoff) for the Colts, and the Patriots hold a lead in points scored, 411–351.

The modern matchup spanning the period of 2001–2011 was usually headlined as a contest between quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, who together won six NFL MVP awards in eight years (2003–10; four by Manning). In September 2001 Brady received his first start against the Colts after an injury to then-starter Drew Bledsoe, and proceeded to defeat the Colts in his first six games against them in the next years, including the 2003 AFC Championship Game and a 2004 AFC Divisional playoff game. The 2004 Divisional game was notable as the Patriots held a record breaking Colts offense to 3 points on snowy cold night in Foxborough. The Colts won the next three matches, notching two regular season victories and a win in the 2006 AFC Championship Game on the way to their win in Super Bowl XLI. Since then, the Patriots have won the six out of the next eight games from 2007–14. The quarterback angle of the rivalry changed in 2012 following Manning's release from the team, and with the surge to success of Colts rookie Andrew Luck. The rivalry gained momentum again in February 2018, when Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who had agreed to become the head coach of the Colts, went back on his word and decided to stay on as a coordinator in New England.

J. P. Losman

Jonathan Paul "J. P." Losman (born March 12, 1981) is a former American football quarterback. He played college football at UCLA and Tulane and was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the first round (22nd overall) in the 2004 NFL Draft.

Intended to replace Drew Bledsoe as Buffalo's franchise quarterback, Losman was plagued with inconsistent play and injuries during his stint with the team, and he was eventually replaced by Trent Edwards. Losman's Bills career was considered a disappointment due to the fact he was taken in the same round of the draft as Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Ben Roethlisberger, who all went on to have successful careers as franchise quarterbacks with their teams.Upon leaving the Bills, Losman signed with the Las Vegas Locomotives in the upstart United Football League, leading the team to winning the inaugural UFL championship game before finishing out his career with stints on the Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, and Miami Dolphins.

List of Buffalo Bills starting quarterbacks

These quarterbacks have started at least one game for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League. The Bills are a professional American football franchise based in the Buffalo–Niagara Falls metropolitan area. The team competes in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference (AFC) East division. The quarterbacks are listed in order of the date of each player's first start for the team at that position.

List of Dallas Cowboys starting quarterbacks

These quarterbacks have started at least one game for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. They are listed in order of the date of each player's first start at quarterback for the Cowboys.

List of New England Patriots starting quarterbacks

The New England Patriots are a professional American football team based in Foxborough, Massachusetts. They are a member of the East Division of the American Football Conference (AFC). The team began as the Boston Patriots in the American Football League, a league that merged with the National Football League before the start of the 1970 season. In 1971, the team relocated to Foxborough, where they then became the New England Patriots. Between 1971 and 2001, the Patriots played their home games at Foxboro Stadium. Since 2002, the Patriots have played their home games at Gillette Stadium (formerly CMGI Field), which was built adjacent to Foxboro Stadium (which was then demolished, and the site was turned into a parking lot for Gillette Stadium).

There have been 28 starting quarterbacks in the history of the franchise. The most starting quarterbacks the Patriots have had in one season is five quarterbacks, in 1987. Past quarterbacks for the Patriots include Patriots Hall of Fame inductees Babe Parilli, Steve Grogan, and Drew Bledsoe. Butch Songin became the first starting quarterback for the Patriots in 1960, when the franchise was first established. He was replaced by Tom Greene for the final two games of the season. Hall of Famer Parilli was the next starting quarterback for the Patriots, from 1961 to 1967. As of the 2017 season, New England's starting quarterback is Tom Brady, whom the Patriots selected in the 6th round (199th pick overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft. He is the only quarterback to have led the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory.

Mike Prior

Michael Robert Prior (born November 14, 1963) to Donald and Mary Prior, is a former American professional football player who was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 7th round of the 1985 NFL Draft. A 6'0", 208 lb (94 kg) safety from Illinois State University, Prior played in 13 NFL seasons from 1985 and 1987 to 1998 for the Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts, and Green Bay Packers, recording 35 interceptions and 17 fumble recoveries.Prior was one of the captains of Super Bowl XXXI and intercepted a pass for the Packers thrown by quarterback Drew Bledsoe of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.

Prior is also a part of one of the most famous Super Bowl highlights. He was the player who clipped John Elway in Super Bowl XXXII sending him spinning himself into Super Bowl history.

Prior attended Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois where he played football under Coach Dave Mattio. His football career started when he played in the Catholic elementary school leagues for St. Kieran Parish in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Prior also starred as the center fielder for the Illinois state championship winning Hale Swanson all-star baseball team. Prior, along with Joe Lira, Mark Finley, Brad Randle, and Mike Heldt eventually lost to national champion Detroit, Michigan.

Prior currently resides in Carmel, IN. He has three daughters (Nicole, Briana, and Paige) and a grandson (Camdyn) and granddaughter (Remy). He is in charge of the social outreach program (Youth Football Commissoner) for the Indianapolis Colts and is also an assistant football coach at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis.

Mo Lewis

Morris "Mo" Clyde Lewis III (born October 21, 1969) is a former American football linebacker who played in the National Football League for 13 seasons and spent the entirety of his career with the New York Jets. Although Lewis had a productive career, he is best known for injuring New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe, which resulted in Tom Brady becoming the team's starter.

Tom Brady–Peyton Manning rivalry

The Tom Brady–Peyton Manning rivalry is a series of games that took place between 2001 and 2016, involving two quarterbacks in the National Football League (NFL): Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Brady has played for the New England Patriots since 2000, when he was the 199th selection in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. He has been the starter since 2001, after Drew Bledsoe was injured early in the season, and has been so since, with the exception of 2008, when he tore his ACL in the opening game. Manning was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1998 NFL Draft with the number 1 pick, and played for the Colts until a neck injury caused him to miss the entire 2011 season. Prior to the 2012 season, Manning signed with the Denver Broncos, whom he played for up to his retirement following the 2015 season.

Manning and Brady are considered by many as the two greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

Legend
Led the league
Team won the Super Bowl
Bold Career high
Drew Bledsoe—championships, awards, and honors

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