The New England Patriots, commonly called the "Pats", are a professional football team based in the Greater Boston area, playing their home games in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium.
The team is part of the East Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The team changed its name from the original Boston Patriots after relocating to Foxborough in 1971, although Foxborough is a suburb of Boston, 22 miles (35 km) away.
An original member of the American Football League (AFL), the Patriots joined the NFL in the 1970 merger of those leagues. The team advanced to the playoffs four times before appearing in Super Bowl XX in January 1986, losing to the Chicago Bears. The team also appeared in Super Bowl XXXI in January 1997, losing to the Green Bay Packers.
Between 2001 and 2005, the Patriots became the second team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four years, and the eighth to win consecutive Super Bowls. The Patriots, however, were defeated by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, after winning the first 18 games of their 2007 season. Under quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots have also compiled the longest winning streak consisting of regular season and playoff games in NFL history, a 21game streak from October 2003 October 2004.
During the 1970s, the Patriots had some success, earning a berth to the playoffs in 1976 as a wild card-team and in 1978 as AFC East champions. They lost in the first round both times. In 1985, they returned to the playoffs, and made it all the way to Super Bowl XX, which they lost to the Chicago Bears 46/10. Following their Super Bowl loss, they returned to the playoffs in 1986, but lost in the first round.
The team would not make the playoffs again for eight more years. They changed ownership three times, being purchased from the Sullivan family first by Victor Kiam in 1988, who sold the team to James Orthwein in 1992. Orthwein intended to move the team to his native St. Louis, Missouri, but sold the team two years later to current owner Robert Kraft in 1994.
Though Orthwein's period as owner was short and controversial, he did oversee major changes to the team, first with the hiring of former New York Giants coach Bill Parcells in 1993. Also a change was made that same year to the Patriots uniforms, changing their primary colors from their traditional red and white to blue and silver, and introducing a new logo .
Parcells would bring the Patriots to two playoff appearances, including Super Bowl XXXI, which they lost to the Green Bay Packers by a score of 35/21. Pete Carroll, Parcells's successor, would also take the team to the playoffs twice in 1997 & 1998 before being dismissed as head coach after the 1999 season.
The Patriots' current coach Bill Belichick was hired in 2000, and a new home field, Gillette Stadium was opened in 2002. Under Belichick, the team won three Super Bowls in four years, and finished the 2007 regular season with a perfect 16/0 record, becoming only the fifth team in league history to go undefeated in the regular season, and the only one since the league expanded its regular season schedule to 16 games.
After advancing to Super Bowl XLII, the team's fourth Super Bowl in seven years, the Patriots were defeated by the Giants to end their bid for a 19/0 season. With the loss, the Patriots ended the year at 18/1, becoming only one of three teams to go 18/1 along with the 1984 San Francisco 49ers and the 1985 Chicago Bears. Those teams, however, won the Super Bowl.
The Patriots have maintained a rivalry with the New York Jets, who have also been members of the AFC East since its inception in 1970. Prior to that, both teams competed in the American Football League since both teams' foundings in 1960.
The rivalry between the Jets and Patriots has escalated since 1996, when Patriots head coach Bill Parcells left the Patriots under controversy to become the head coach of the Jets. Four years later, Parcells' assistant, Bill Belichick, resigned the day he was named the Jets' head coach to become the head coach of the Patriots. Six years after that, Eric Mangini, an assistant under Belichick, became the head coach of the Jets.
Meanwhile, the rise of quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the early 2000s led to an increased rivalry between Manning's Indianapolis Colts and Brady's Patriots. The teams met three times in four years (2003, 2004, 2006) in the playoffs, with the winner going on to win that season's Super Bowl each time.