The New England Patriots finished the National Football League's 1996 season with a record of eleven wins and five losses, and finished first in the AFC East division. The team lost Super Bowl XXXI to the Green Bay Packers.
|1||7||Terry Glenn||Wide receiver||Ohio State|
|4||101||Heath Irwin||Offensive guard||Colorado|
|4||119||Chris Sullivan||Defensive tackle||Boston College|
|4||124||Kantroy Barber||Fullback||West Virginia|
|5||139||John Elmore||Offensive guard||Texas|
|5||149||Christian Peter||Defensive tackle||Nebraska|
|6||173||Chris Griffin||Tight end||New Mexico|
|6||206||Devin Wyman||Defensive tackle||Kentucky State|
|7||216||Lovett Purnell||Tight end||West Virginia|
|7||247||J. R. Conrad||Offensive guard||Oklahoma|
|1||Miami Dolphins||L 10-24||Joe Robbie Stadium||0-1|
|2||Buffalo Bills||L 10-17||Rich Stadium||0-2|
|3||Arizona Cardinals||W 31-0||Foxboro Stadium||1-2|
|4||Jacksonville Jaguars||W 28-25||Foxboro Stadium||2-2|
|5||Baltimore Ravens||W 46-38||Memorial Stadium||3-2|
|6||Washington Redskins||L 22-27||Foxboro Stadium||3-3|
|7||Indianapolis Colts||W 27-9||Hoosier Dome||4-3|
|8||Buffalo Bills||W 28-25||Foxboro Stadium||5-3|
|9||Miami Dolphins||W 42-23||Foxboro Stadium||6-3|
|10||New York Jets||W 31-27||The Meadowlands||7-3|
|11||Denver Broncos||L 8-34||Foxboro Stadium||7-4|
|12||Indianapolis Colts||W 27-13||Foxboro Stadium||8-4|
|13||San Diego Chargers||W 45-7||Jack Murphy Stadium||9-4|
|14||New York Jets||W 34-10||Foxboro Stadium||10-4|
|15||Dallas Cowboys||L 6-12||Cowboys Stadium||10-5|
|16||New York Giants||W 23-22||Giants Stadium||11-5|
|Divisional||Pittsburgh Steelers||W 28-3||Foxboro Stadium||1-0|
|Conference||Jacksonville Jaguars||W 20-6||Foxboro Stadium||2-0|
|Super Bowl XXXI||Green Bay Packers||L 21-35||Superdome||2-1|
The Patriots behind three field goals by rookie Adam Vinatieri, and touchdowns by Ben Coates and Curtis Martin led 22-0 in the final seconds of the first half, but from his 49 Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell escaped a sack and threw a desperation heave to the endzone; in the endzone scramble the ball was kicked in the air by Willie Clay of the Patriots and caught by the Jaguars' Jimmy Smith for a touchdown. The Jags blocked a Vinatieri kick and Brunell completed long-bomb touchdown throws to Andre Rison. The game was tied at 25 when Brunell uncorked another desperation heave to the endzone on the final play of regulation; it was caught with one hand by Jags receiver Willie Jackson off the chest of Willie McGinest, but Jackson was ruled down at the one-foot line. The Patriots finally won on a 40-yard Vinatieri field goal in OT, the first game-winning FG in Vinatieri's career.
The Bills rallied from a 13-0 halftime Patriots lead. An intentional-grounding penalty on Jim Kelly in the endzone was ruled a Patriots safety, but the Bills took an 18-15 lead on a Thurman Thomas run and a Darick Holmes two-point conversion. With 1:25 to go Curtis Martin stormed through for a ten-yard touchdown, but Adam Vinatieri's extra point was missed. Willie McGinest then ran back an interception for a 46-yard touchdown, but Kelly launched a desperation heave with 33 seconds to go and it was batted off the fingers of Patriot defenders and caught for the touchdown by Andre Reed. The Bills' onside kick attempt was then caught by Keith Byars, ending a 28-25 Patriots win.
The Jets held Drew Bledsoe of the Patriots without a completion in the first quarter. Behind quarterback Frank Reich and running back Adrian Murrell the Jets stormed to a 21-0 lead before the Patriots began clawing back. Trailing 27-24 late in the fourth Bledsoe (24 of 30 for 297 yards after being shut out in the first) completed a first-down throw to Ben Coates on 4th and 2 to the Jets 49-yard line; the Jets disputed the ball spot by line judge Charles Stewart but the call stood. Bledsoe then completed a four-yard touchdown to Keith Byars, but the Jets roared downfield on a long throw from Reich to Jeff Graham to the Patriots 11-yard line. On the next play Reich was picked off by Lawyer Milloy for a 31-27 Patriots win. "They're the best 1-9 football team in history, I guess," Bledsoe said afterward.
The Patriots visited Giants Stadium for the final game of the season and fell behind 22-0; Drew Bledsoe was called for intentional grounding in the endzone, making for a Giants safety; he was then picked off by Jason Sehorn for a 23-yard touchdown. Bledsoe stormed back with touchdown throws to Terry Glenn and Ben Coates to go with a Vinatieri 40-yard FG and a Dave Meggett 60-yard punt return touchdown. The Patriots won 23-22.
The Patriots hosted a playoff game for only the second time in their history, the first coming in 1978; ironically, like the 1978 game against the Houston Oilers, this 1996 game was against an AFC Central team. The game was shrouded in fog and was nicknamed by some "Fog Bowl II." The Steelers running game flamed out after their first possession, while the Patriots erupted; a 52-yard screen pass from Drew Bledsoe to Terry Glenn set up a two-yard Curtis Martin touchdown. Keith Byars ran in a 34-yard screen pass for a touchdown and Martin torched past eight tackles at his 22 and raced to a 78-yard touchdown and a 21-0 Patiots halftime lead; Martin would add a 23-yard score in the fourth to cap a 166-yard rushing day. Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart did not have a single completion in ten attempts and was periodically rotated in and out with Mike Tomczak, neither of whom could stop a 28-3 Patriots rout.
|New England Patriots 1996 final roster|
|New England Patriots 1996 staff|
| Front Office|
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning