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New England Patriots Super Bowl Appearances: Tom Brady, Belichick Lead Pats Back To Big Game (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post     First Posted: 01/31/2012 8:27 am   Updated: 01/31/2012 8:40 am

Having debuted as a charter member of the American Football League in 1960, the Patriots have been playing on Sundays for more than 50 years. And, lest young fans of the club forget, not all eras in Patriots' history were as successful as this particular stretch of merciless, unrelenting excellence helmed by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.

These Belichick-Brady Patriots are making their fifth Super Bowl appearance in 11 years. However, the franchise managed just two visits to football's biggest game for the balance of its existence. The first of those earlier Super Bowl visits came in 1986 when the team was relegated to supporting actor status in the climactic scenes of a dominant season by the Chicago Bears. The other Super Bowl berth came in 1996.

The arrival of Bill Parcells in Foxboro in 1993 was not only the first step down toward that '96 Super Bowl but was truly the beginning of the club's ascendance into the upper echelon of NFL teams. Certainly, the quarterback that Parcells started in Super Bowl XXXI, Drew Bledsoe, has a prominent role to play in the creation myth of this current team. After all, it was an injury to Bledsoe that propelled the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft -- an unathletic quarterback out of the University Michigan named Tom Brady -- into the starting lineup in the autumn of 2001.

From there, well, you probably know the rest of the story.

Here are highlights from each of the Patriots' previous Super Bowl appearances. Re-live each game's key moments and vote for the most memorable performance.

Super Bowl XX: Bears vs. Patriots
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The Patriots didn't have a very easy draw in their first Super Bowl ever, taking on a Chicago Bears squad that is widely considered to be one of the best teams in NFL history. The Patriots entered the game a Cinderalla team of sorts, having begun the season losing three of their first five games before getting on track. The Bears had demolished their competition on their way to a 17-1 record entering the contest. For obvious reasons the game was deemed to be a David vs. Goliath affair prior to kick off, and once the ball was kicked off, Goliath would absolutely run away with the game. The latter day Monsters of the Midway left no doubt in the final outcome demolishing the overmatched Patriots by a score of 46-10 in one of the most lopsided Super Bowls in history.
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