NFL Power Points: Pats fall to third

A defensive breakdown and special teams problems dropped the Patriots to third in the final rankings.

Updated: February 2, 2004, 1:56 PM ET
By By Ryan Early | NFL Insider
After winning Super Bowl XXXVIII to culminate an impressive 15-game win streak, the 2003-04 Patriots have to be considered one of the best teams in NFL history. After winning two championships in the last three years, they are arguably a dynasty, or at least the closest thing to one in this era of free agency induced parity.

Their quarterback, 26-year old Tom Brady, has now won two Super Bowl MVP awards, and his career is only four seasons old, forecasting continued greatness for both he and the Patriots for years to come. Yet they don't even finish the season as the highest-rated team in the Power Points.

During their winning streak, they had two games go to overtime, failed to score more than 12 points three times, and had seven games decided by less than a touchdown. Their defensive performances were impressive, with three shutouts and the lowest points per game in the league, but the only teams the Patriots came close to dominating on the field were the league's bottom dwellers. It seemed like each week the Patriots barely got by, and according to the Power Points, they owed their very appearance in Super Bowl XXXVIII primarily to their home-field advantage.