Given the way the Patriots looked over the past two weeks, it might not be a bad time for Patriots fans to look back upon the winning days of yesteryear. Fortunately, that's exactly what Sports Illustrated did, unveiling a number of retrospective looks at the best NFL players, coaches, teams, plays and trades of the past decade.
Not surprisingly, the Patriots enjoyed a few honors.
Though Peyton Manning edged Tom Brady for player of the decade, Bill Belichick was given the honor of coach of the decade.
"Spygate will always stain his resume, but it's not enough of a stain to erase the tremendous accomplishment of winning three Super Bowls in a salary-cap era and, in a fourth season, going 16-0 before losing in Super Bowl XLII," wrote SI's Peter King. "He and Paul Brown may go down as the smartest to roam an NFL sideline."
The Patriots were also named the decade's best franchise for their three Super Bowl titles, and the 2007 Patriots were named the best single-season team of the decade, despite losing the Super Bowl.
"The Patriots set an NFL record for a single season with 589 points," wrote King. "And I realize it's a quirky deal, naming the best team and knowing that it didn't win its final game. The 2007 Patriots have a scar that will never go away, the 17-14 loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. But no team since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978 won every regular-season game. No team in history has been 18-0. To me, a three-point loss in the final minutes of the Super Bowl doesn't mean there was a better team in the last 10 years."
The Patriots were also credited with making the best trade of the decade for their 2007 swapping of a fourth-round draft pick for Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss. Former Patriots VP of personnel and current Chiefs GM Scott Pioli was credited with being the personnel man of the decade as well.
Of course, with the good came the bad, as the Patriots were involved in the biggest controversy (Spygate). The Patriots were also memorialized for being on the wrong end of the signature play — David Tyree's impossible catch in Super XLII. That play came in the upset of the century, a no-brainer if there ever was one.
The Brady-Manning rivalry was also toted as the best individual rivalry, while the Patriots-Colts matchup was named best team rivalry.
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