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Ten years ago this week, the 2007 New England Patriots took to the field for the first time and lost 13-10 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their preseason opener.They lost the following week to the Tennessee Titans before winning their final two preseason games, all 16 regular-season contests and their first two postseason matchups.
Less logical were the arguments from fans and NFL executives at the time, most notably 1972 Dolphins coach Don Shula, that the Patriots' 2007 season was tainted or aided by the taping. The Patriots certainly weren't taping any sidelines after the Jets reported them in Week 1, given that every single one of their opponents would have been looking out toward the sideline for anything untoward.
They fundamentally ripped apart old touchstones about how to win games and raised questions about whether they did so with acceptable behavior.
Perhaps most importantly, the events of that 2007 season immediately and irreparably changed the way we view the Pats and the key personnel involved with that team in ways that still resonate and recur a decade later.
After looking back on Tuesday at the on-field success of the 2007 Patriots, on Wednesday I'm evaluating the ways that team influenced how we think about Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots franchise as a whole a decade later.
It seems impossible to imagine for a team that has been favored to win 85 of its most recent 100 games, but the Patriots were lovable underdogs once upon a time.