It is hard to believe but fittingly on Sunday as the Patriots open their 2012 regular season in Tennessee, it will also mark the 10th anniversary of their latest home-Gillette Stadium.
Back on Sept. 9, 2002, New England unveiled their Super Bowl XXXVI banner with a Monday Night Football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers (30-14 Pats win). With a decade’s worth of action, it is time to make some general observations about a place where New England has experienced plenty of wins (67-13 regular season, 9-2 playoffs) while also remembering some of the best moments.
By moving out of Foxboro Stadium aka The Wild West, the Patriots did something similar to the Bruins and Celtics: a new stadium or arena means that you price out many of your most dedicated fans while also getting rid of plenty of history (good and bad).
That’s a fact of life in professional sports; it takes years, quality teams and championships to build an authentic atmosphere. In many ways, the Red Sox have done the same thing even though they never left Fenway Park.
The biggest positives about Gillette include it being a beautiful stadium and great views from pretty much any seat. The negatives are well-established: the crowd can be clueless in terms of when to cheer and make noise while traffic is a nightmare and parking is laughably overpriced.
Top 5 Patriots games at Gillette Stadium
1) 2003 AFC Championship Game-Patriots 24, Colts 14.
Ty Law had three interceptions and Peyton Manning solidified his reputation as a choke artist in big games.
2) 2007 AFC Championship Game-Patriots 21, Chargers 12
Not a particularly memorable game (Tom Brady had 3 interceptions) except for LaDainian Tomlinson sitting on the bench with his dark visor and a long sideline coat on.
3) 2011 AFC Championship Game-Patriots 23, Ravens 20
Pats overcame another bad game from Brady (0 TDs, 2 INTs) thanks to some good fortune including dropped touchdowns by the Ravens and Billy Cundiff’s missed 32-yard field goal at the end of regulation.
4) December 7, 2003, Patriots 12, Dolphins 0: The Tedy Bruschi Snow Game
Bruschi intercepted Miami quarterback Jay Fielder and returned it five yards for a score in the fourth quarter, setting off one of the great spontaneous crowd reactions (throwing snow up in the air) that still happens to this day at Gillette.
5) October 30, 2005, Patriots 21, Bills 16: Bruschi’s Return
After suffering a mild stroke in February, Bruschi made an incredible return to the Patriots despite the fact that he had earlier said he would sit out the 2005 season.