1977: Another 3-way race and a bizarre conclusion

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by Lifer, Dec 10, 2008.

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  1. Lifer

    Lifer Banned

    Who remembers the bizarre final few weeks of the 1977 season, another year when the Patriots were in a tight 3-way battle for the division titles and tiebreakers were the dominant discussion.

    This was the year following the amazing 1976 season and going into it the Patriots fans and the media were gushing about a possible Super Bowl season.

    It was marred by a holdout by Leon Gray and John Hannah to start the season and the Patriots stumbled out to a disappointing 5-4 start. But finally they caught their stride and won 3 straight. With 2 weeks remaining, the standings were:
    Baltimore 9-3
    Miami 9-3
    New England 8-4

    The Patriots seemed to have their destiny in their own hands. Their final 2 games would home to Miami and at Baltimore. The Colts were playing at home on Week 13 to the weak Detroit Lions and the Dolphins were playing a weak Buffalo team at home Week 14. If the Patriots won their 2 games against their rivals it seemed assured the 3 teams would all finish 10-4 and the Patriots would win the AFC East on tiebreakers.

    It all started perfectly. The Patriots scored on their first 2 possessions and rode those touchdowns to a 14-10 victory at Foxboro over Miami. Patriot fans were ecstatic about the chance to go to Baltimore and win the division the next week.
    Then, the news APPEARED to get even better. In the last minutes of play, the Lions blocked a Colts punt and ran it in for the score that upset Baltimore!!
    This was great, right?? It was now a 3 way tie at 9-4.

    But wait a minute.........after tiebreakers were pondered it was realized that this was disatrous for New England. Now if the Patriots beat the Colts, and Miami won as expected against the Bills on Saturday, Miami and New England would both finish 10-4. In a 2 way tie with Miami, MIAMI would beat New England on tiebreakers. If the Colts had created a 3-way tie, The Patriots would have won.

    Incredibly, The Patriots were virtually eliminated because Baltimore LOST!!!!

    as us oldtimers would often say, this could only happen to the Patriots.

    The next Saturday the Patriots were officially eliminated when the Dolphins crushed the Bills. Then on sunday, to rub salt in the wound, the Patriots were screwed when a Bert Jones fumble was called not a fumble and the Colts won the AFC East. Ironically, the team that was really screwed by the blown call was Miami, who would have won the division with a Patriots victory.

    I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Hopefully this season will end better!!!!!
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  2. upstater1

    upstater1 Pro Bowl Player

    Out of all of that, I only remember the Colts-Patriots game when Bert Jones DIDN'T fumble.

    I became a fan in 1976 at the age of 9.
  3. tuckeverlasting

    tuckeverlasting In the Starting Line-Up

    No Jersey Selected

    sadly, all i remember were the holdouts.
  4. PatsWickedPissah

    PatsWickedPissah PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Man, did I ever hate that smug doofus Bert Jones.

    It's SO easy to forget the 4 decades of nightmarish frustration that preceeded the 2001 Patriots.
  5. Lifer

    Lifer Banned

    i feel blessed to have not had to go through the first 15 years of it. But I had my share:
    1974 - team starts off 5-0 and 6-1. finishes 7-7
    1976 - Playoff nightmare
    1977- See above
    1978 - they finally win AFC East. then the Sullivan/Fairbanks nightmare
    1979 - team chokes up playoff spot
    1980 - starts 6-1, chokes up another playoff spot
    1981- 2-14
    1983 - loses final game at Seattle to finish out of playoffs
    1984- starts 8-4, loses 3 straight
    1985 - Magical season up to Super Bowl 46-10 loss. Drug scandal.
    1986 - playoff loss at Denver
    1988 - team on a roll with Flutie, Berry decides at the end, what the heck, lets change QB's. Loss at Denver out of the playoffs
    1989 thru 1992 - need I say more????

    things changed when Parcells was hired, we had ups and downs but you felt like, for the first time, there was some football credibility coming,

    finally in 2001, Brady to Brown, Adams kick, and it all changed.....
  6. captadamnj

    captadamnj On the Game Day Roster

    #50 Jersey

    Nice recount of a tough finish...
  7. Lifer

    Lifer Banned

    I remember a 4 O'Clock game at Foxboro when they beat the Colts 17-3. It was National TV game with Curt Gowdy doing the call and I thought to myself how the Patriots had finally arrived.
  8. Gwedd

    Gwedd PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    #11 Jersey

    I remember well. I also remember how darn-near homicidal I was when Berry sat Flutie. The fans were screaming for Flutie, and I remember watching Berry turn to face the crowd and do everything but flip them off.

    It's no wonder I drink. Sigh. I hide the grey hair by shaving it off. :)
  9. upstater1

    upstater1 Pro Bowl Player

    But that 1981 team was by far and away the best 2 win team in NFL history!!!
  10. Lifer

    Lifer Banned

    didnt Ron Airhead say something like that? I remember they lost a lot of close games. And they were 4-0 in preseason.
  11. upstater1

    upstater1 Pro Bowl Player

    LOL, no, I used to say that. Every week they would rip my heart out with last second losses.

    Ron Erhardt was Norv Turner in a previous era. Erhardt also has about as many rings as Turner because he was the Giants OC during the 2 Super Bowl wins.
  12. PatsWickedPissah

    PatsWickedPissah PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    Disable Jersey

    That year started out with the Pats-Bears game. First meeting after the SB embarrasment. Opening play, Flutie drops back and tosses an 80 yd TD bomb to Rev Fryar who'd left Da Bayiz in the dust. Pats killed the Bears that game. Revenge. Never forgave Berry for playing Eason and killing us.

    Back then I'd be doing yard work in the AM, look at the weather and if it was good, drive to Foxboro, park for free in the woods by the RR tracks across Rt 1, walk to the stadium and buy good tix at face value from folks in the parking lot.
  13. Gwedd

    Gwedd PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    #11 Jersey


    I remember that there was a standard game plan for New England: Jump ahead early, get behind, rally late, fall short. You watched the games every week hoping that they would win, but knowing in your heart of hearts that, no matter what, the Patriots would find some new and novel way to lose the game. Dropped passes, shanked kicks, receivers trying out their new car at halftime and getting into an accident, it was something different each week.

    And yet I watched. Einstein is credited with saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result. That was me. I stayed glued to the tube, watched every play of every game until they all blended into one long daze of blunderful football, with the occasional emotional spike of a win, wherein we all thought HEY! We've turned the corner, things will get better now.

    But they didn't, but we watched anyway.

    And then came that magical season, where Drew led us to the promised land, where we were ready to erase all of the past ghosts, where hard work and great execution would result in unbridled euphoria and our first Lombardi.

    Then Desmond Howard took the kickoff and ran it back for a TD. It was like rejoicing one minute when you realised you had every number in the lottery, and then finding out it was for LAST weeks ticket. Big time crash. Pats lose.

    Came the Pete Carrol era. Almost made it back to the Superbowl, and that was an apt description of his tenure. Almost. So close. Woulda Shoulda Coulda.

    Then came the dawn of the Age of Bill.

    It's easy for us to forget how bad things were, how much potential got wasted or lost through so many different ways, and how so many seem spoiled when we GASP actually lose a game!

    I love this team. I always have. I've probably gone grey early because of them (although my kids also had a hand in that grey thing) but what the heck. They are indeed a team with heart, and for heaven's sakes... it could always be worse. See Detroit, for an example.

    Sorry for the rant... :)

  14. tuckeverlasting

    tuckeverlasting In the Starting Line-Up

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    i was so excited for the '81 season. 4-0 in the preseason and we looked strong. then the season starts and we lose one close game after another. what a let down. we ended up with the first pick and took ken sims. oh well.
  15. fgssand

    fgssand PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

    #12 Jersey

    NO it's not easy at all......I think it may require 3 more Superbowl championships to get over 42 years of pain.
  16. italian pat patriot

    italian pat patriot In the Starting Line-Up

    #12 Jersey

    thanks for the memories
  17. FortressX

    FortressX Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    #87 Jersey

    What year was it that Boomer Esiason & Co sat in the TV studio hoping the Pats would lose so they could get in the playoffs ?
  18. spacecrime

    spacecrime Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    Was that the year we were beating the Bills, and the Bills tried a Hail Mary into the endzone with a couple seconds left in the game, and about 5 Patriots were there and they all jumped up and smacked the ball down, and the ball flew straight down into the gut of a Bills receiver who was lying on his back and he held onto the ball? Game over, Bills win.
  19. spacecrime

    spacecrime Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

    I thought 2002 was odd, also. IIRC (never a sure thing), the Dolphins, Jets and Pats were all 9-7 and the Jets had the tie-breaker, but if the 8-8 Bills had won one more game and all four teams finished 9-7, the Pats would have won the tie.

  20. NoCal Patriot

    NoCal Patriot Third String But Playing on Special Teams

    I have a funny story about The Hannah and Gray Holdout.My friend Sully and I were walking into the stadium when their agent, Howard Slusher,Leon Gray and John Hannah were walking out of the Patriots Office.You could tell that Hannah was pissed and My Friend Sully turned to Me and said," I guess Hannah and Gray aren't playing today" His comment was overheard by Hannah who looked at Us and said," No **** Sherlock ! ". He took another step and then We all looked at each other and laughed our asses off !
    We ran into John Hannah several weeks later at 'The Red Snapper and He bought Us a round ,laughed and said " No Hard Feelings Boys ! We drank ,laughed and enjoyed the company of The Hall of Famer.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2008
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