NFL

When Was the Last Time the New England Patriots Missed the Playoffs?

When Bill Belichick took over as head coach of the New England Patriots ahead of the 2000 NFL season, nobody could have ever predicted that the team would win six Super Bowl titles over the next two decades. Along the same lines, when Tom Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe in 2001, nobody could have predicted that he’d become arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

But both of these things happened. And fans of the New England Patriots got a little spoiled, especially the younger generation. Year after year since Brady and Belichick joined forces, it was expected that the Pats would win the AFC East and make a deep run in the postseason. But that’s certainly not the case in 2020, is it?

Tom Brady took his talents to Tampa Bay and has the Buccaneers in a good position to become the first team to win a Super Bowl in its own stadium. As for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, they’re in danger of missing out on the postseason for the first time in a long time. In fact, they’re likely going to snap the longest postseason appearance streak in NFL history.

The 2020 New England Patriots have a lot of young players on the roster

One of the big reasons for the New England Patriots’ backslide in 2020 is the fact that Bill Belichick has had to use a lot of young players. Numerous players opted out ahead of the season due to COVID-19 and the team has also had to deal with a number of injuries.

This is the Patriots’ youngest overall roster since 2016 and it’s certainly showing. Belichick stated at one point that the reason the Patriots have had to go so young is due to salary cap reasons (h/t CBS Sports).

“From a salary-cap standpoint, we didn’t have much flexibility at all. I think that was obvious on the Cam Newton contract. Then we had some opt-outs, so we lost some players there that would normally be giving us a significant amount of playtime. And then like every year, a couple guys are banged up and we’ve missed some guys here and there in certain games.

“I think when you combine it all together, there is opportunity there, and some of that opportunity has gone to younger players. Again, because of our cap situation — in this particular year, this is kind of the year that we’ve taken to, I would say, adjust our cap from the spending that we’ve had in accumulation of prior years.”

Bill Belichick

It certainly hasn’t been the kind of year that Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, or fans of the New England Patriots have gotten used to.

The Pats own the longest postseason appearance streak in NFL history

The New England Patriots have made 11 consecutive postseason appearances, which is the longest streak in NFL history, and have won three Super Bowl titles during that stretch. The Dallas Cowboys set the previous record with nine consecutive appearances from 1975 to 1983, a mark tied by Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts from 2002 to 2010.

So that means that the last time that the New England Patriots missed the playoffs was following the 2008 season. And we all remember what happened that year, right?

The New England Patriots last missed the playoffs when Tom Brady was hurt

New England Patriots
New England Patriots logo | Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

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In the opening quarter of the New England Patriots’ 2008 season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tom Brady suffered a serious injury to his left knee, tearing both his ACL and MCL, which caused him to miss the entire season.

Matt Cassel stepped in and played very well, leading the Patriots to an 11-5 record. However, it wasn’t good enough to get New England to the postseason. The Miami Dolphins, who also won 11 games, were crowned AFC East champs as they had a better record within the conference. The 11-5 Baltimore Ravens beat out New England for the last wild card spot for the same reason. The 2008 New England Patriots were the first 11-win team to miss out on the postseason since the NFL expanded to a 12-team playoff in 1990.