Ranking the Patriots 11 AFC Championship Games since 2001

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18: Nate Solder
FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18: Nate Solder /
6 of 7
27 Jan 2002: Drew Bledsoe /

2. 2001 AFC Championship Game – Pittsburgh Steelers

Final: Patriots 24, Steelers 17

This game was simply awesome. After surrendering the starting quarterback job to a young Tom Brady, Drew Bledsoe was asked to step up and fill in after an injury. Troy Brown got the part started though with a 55-yard punt return in the first quarter. The Steelers responded, but they were only able to muster a field goal.

Right before halftime, Drew Bledsoe tossed an 11-yard pass to David Patten for a score, and New England went into the locker room with a 14-3 lead. No one saw this coming.

The Patriots offense stalled over the next two quarters, but with a great defense, that was okay. In the third, Antwan Harris returned a blocked Steelers field goal attempt 49-yards for a touchdown to give New England a 21-3 lead. That’s when Pittsburgh began their comeback. Jerome Bettis and Amos Zereoue both got in on rushing touchdowns, and the Steelers pulled closer at 21-17. A Vinatieri field goal added some more room to the lead, and the Patriots earned their ticket to Super Bowl 36 with a 24-17 win.