Our quest to identify the most iconic moment for every team in the NFL takes us to the AFC East as we break down the most legendary moments in the history of the Patriots, Dolphins, Jets and Bills.
The AFC East is full of iconic history as all four teams have played a significant role in painting the overall picture of the NFL as we know it today.
Some good. Some bad. Some outright hilarious (cough…butt fumble…cough). But the moments we’ve identified have been talked about for years and passed on for generations, and are sure to continue to be discussed by each team’s fan base for years to come.
Have a top moment for one of these teams that wasn’t selected? Let us know your top choice either on Twitter or in the comments section below.
New England Patriots
Moment: Comeback win vs. Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl 51 – the 28-3 game
There are so many moments and Super Bowl victories to choose from for the Patriots, however, overcoming a 28-3 deficit is the winner as New England went on to beat the Atlanta Falcons, 34-28, in Super Bowl 51.
Trailing 28-3 midway through the third quarter, New England went on to score 31 unanswered points, capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by James White on the first possession of overtime, to earn the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl victory.
The game became the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, and was the first Super Bowl to be decided in overtime.
Arguably one of the best games in NFL history, the game produced several iconic moments, but quite possibly none more famous than the improbable catch Julian Edelman made in the fourth quarter. Despite the fact that the catch came on 1st & 10, it was still an important play that covered 23 yards as the Patriots trailed by eight with a little over two minutes remaining.
The Patriots have had their share of improbable catches go against them, but on this day, Edelman somehow found a way to (sort of) balance the scales.
Moment: 1972 Perfect Season
While it’s unfortunate that the Miami Dolphins’ most iconic moment doesn’t involve the team’s most iconic player, there’s no denying the selection of the perfect season in 1972.
There are so many legendary aspects to this season, but here are a few of the top ones. The fact that it remains the only perfect regular and postseason in NFL history. How quarterback Bob Griese returned to his starting role in the Super Bowl after missing the majority of the season with a broken leg and dislocated ankle. The team had three running backs rush for over 500 yards, including two reaching the 1,000-yard mark (Larry Csonka 1,117, Mercury Morris 1,000 and Jim Kiick 521). And how iconic are the photos and videos of head coach Don Shula being carried off the field following the 14-7 victory over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl 7?
Since it was so long ago, it’s important to note that the Dolphins went 14-0 in the regular season before sweeping all three postseason games, combining for a perfect 17-0 record.
The Csonka/Morris pairing became the first duo in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in a single season, and in total, seven members of this team went on to be inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame (Nick Buoniconti LB, Larry Csonka RB, Bob Griese QB, Jim Langer OL, Larry Little OL, Paul Warfield WR and Head Coach Don Shula)
Adding to the perfection is the fact that the team finished No. 1 statistically on both offense and defense. The defense, coined as the No Name Defense, was given this title due to all of the notoriety that the offense received. While the offense deserved plenty of attention, averaging 27.5 points per game and over 200 rushing yards per game, the defense allowed just 171 total points (12.2 per game) including three shutouts.
As we all know, the 2007 New England Patriots (undefeated regular and postseason until losing in Super Bowl 42 to the New York Giants) are the closest any team has come to joining the ‘72 Dolphins in perfectville, but since no one has been able to replicate the perfect regular and postseason, the tradition of the remaining living members of the 1972 Miami Dolphins popping champagne once the final undefeated team loses its first game remains in tact.
New York Jets
Moment: Joe Namath’s Super Bowl Victory Prediction
Regardless of how popular the “butt fumble” has become in recent years, it would be a crime not to make Joe Namath’s guarantee in Super Bowl 3 the most iconic moment in New York Jets’ history.
The prediction, made at the Miami Touchdown Club three days prior to the game, came to fruition as the Jets defeated the Baltimore Colts, 16-7, in what became the first championship victory for a team in the the American Football League over a team in the National Football League.
This game is also an iconic moment in the history of the league as it was the first championship game to actually be referred to as the Super Bowl. Additionally, it’s considered one of the greatest upsets of all time as the Jets were an 18-point underdog.
Namath went on to be named the game’s MVP after completing 17-of-28 passes for 2016 yards. He was also the first player to be named Super Bowl MVP without recording a single touchdown.
Moment: Wide Right
Unfortunately, not everyone can end up on the positive side of iconic moments, and Bills fans, that’s where you fall on this one.
The Buffalo Bills are arguably most famous for losing four straight Super Bowls from 1990-1993. The losses came against the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and twice against the Dallas Cowboys.
While the final three losses weren’t particularly close, losing each game by double digits, the loss in Super Bowl 25 was the most painful as Bills’ kicker Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal, wide right, with just seconds left in what turned out to be a 20-19 loss to the Giants.
It’s been a rocky road for the Bills since their four straight Super Bowl appearances as the team hasn’t appeared in one since. Additionally, the team just recently ended the longest playoff drought in any of the four major sports in North America as they didn’t qualify for postseason action from 1999 until 2017.
Be sure to check out the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as we discuss which players should be your league mates headache rather than yours this upcoming fantasy football season in an episode called, Fantasy Dad Bod!