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 (after the Dallas Cowboys) to win three Super Bowls in four years (Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX), 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 21-game streak from October 2003 October 2004.
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.
Under head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots have employed specific on-field and off-field strategies. On the field, the Patriots have typically utilized an "Erhardt-Perkins" offense and a "Fairbanks-Bullough" 3-4 defense, referred to commonly as a 2-gap 3-4 defensive system.
Their philosophy in making personnel decisions and in game planning has focused on the "team" concept,stressing preparation, strong work ethic, versatility,and lack of individual ego.This approach, which led to three Super Bowl victories under Belichick, was analyzed in the 2004 book Patriot Reign.
When owner Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, he did so for $175 million. Since then, the Patriots have sold out every home game in both Foxboro Stadium and Gillette Stadium. By 2009, the value of the franchise had increased by over $1 billion, to a Forbes Magazine estimated value of $1.361 billion, third highest in the NFL.
Since 2002, the Patriots' home stadium has been Gillette Stadium, a $350 million facility privately financed by Kraft. It houses all administrative offices for the team and its owning entity, The Kraft Group, as well as the Kraft-owned Major League Soccer team, the New England Revolution. The field, which was originally natural grass, was replaced with a FieldTurf surface during the 2006 season. The area around the stadium was developed, beginning in 2007, into a $375 million "lifestyle and entertainment center" called Patriot Place.
Prior to 2002, the Patriots played in Foxboro Stadium dating back to 1971, the team's second year in the NFL after the AFL-NFL meger. During the team's days in the American Football League, the Boston Patriots were hosted by a number of fields in or around Boston.