Bill Belichick has coached the New England Patriots for 18 seasons. Incredibly, he will be coaching in his 12th AFC championship game including an unprecedented seventh straight. Let's take a look back at Belichick's first 11 appearances in the AFC title bout.

2001-02: Patriots 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 17

New England was the prohibitive underdog against Bill Cowher’s Steelers in Pittsburgh. Tom Brady injured his ankle midway through the second quarter so former starter Drew Bledsoe led the Patriots the rest of the way. The Pats notched two touchdowns on special teams and held off Pittsburgh 24-17. This great win is often forgotten as it came between the "Tuck Rule" game and their amazing upset win in the 2002 Super Bowl over the St. Louis Rams.

2003-04: Patriots 24 Indianapolis Colts 14

This game was hyped as Bill Belichick and his excellent defense versus Manning and the Colts' high-powered offense. New England's defenders harassed Manning and his receivers all day en route to a 24-14 victory. Manning threw four interceptions in the loss. Cornerback Ty Law was so aggressive with his coverage that the Colts lobbied for stricter enforcement of defensive holding and illegal contact penalties over the offseason.

2004-05: Patriots 41 Steelers 17

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Coach Belichick really had his guys ready for this one. The Patriots avenged a Halloween Day loss by exploding out of the blocks on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Deion Branch was the star of the game posting 158 total yards and two touchdowns. Rodney Harrison nailed the coffin shut on the Steelers' season with an 87-yard interception return off rookie sensation Ben Roethlisberger. The 14-2 Patriots dominated the 15-1 Steelers on their way to their third Super Bowl championship in four seasons.

2006-07: Colts 38 Patriots 34

The Patriots lost a classic in Indianapolis. They jumped in front 21-3 in the second quarter, but could not contain Manning in perhaps his finest hour. The loss exposed a lack of talent and depth on the New England's offense opening the door to the offseason acquisitions of Wes Welker and Randy Moss.

2007-08: Patriots 21 San Diego Chargers 12

Tom Brady and the undefeated Patriots struggled through the air against the undermanned, underrated Chargers. Thus, they relied on Laurence Maroney and the running attack in a grind-it-out 21-12 victory over San Diego.

2011-12: Patriots 23 Baltimore Ravens 20

This game will always be remembered for the Ravens' failures rather than the Patriots' successes. Trailing 23-20 with under a minute to go, Ravens' quarterback Joe Flacco found Lee Evans open in the corner of the end zone. At the last possible moment, cornerback Sterling Moore slapped the ball away. Two plays later, Billy Cundiff missed the field goal that would have tied things up. New England's nose tackle Vince Wilfork had the game of his life in the win.

2012-13: Ravens 28 Patriots 13

Baltimore got their revenge on their way to their second Super Bowl title. The Ravens outscored New England 21-0 in the second half and scored four touchdowns in their four red zone appearances overall. Meanwhile, the Pats were only able to come away with one touchdown in five red zone opportunities. The Ravens were also plus-3 in turnover differential. Belichick does not like stats, but these numbers point to an obvious Ravens victory.

2013-14: Denver Broncos 26 Patriots 16

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New England was no match for the historically great offense of the 2013 Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning passed for over 400 yards as this contest was much closer on the scoreboard than it was on the field. The Broncos won 26-16 ahead of getting plastered in the Super Bowl by the Seattle Seahawks.

2014-15: Patriots 45 Colts 7

In the infamous “Deflategate” game, LeGarrette Blount and the Patriots crushed the Colts 45-7. In a driving rainstorm, Andrew Luck and the Colts never could get things going in an embarrassing performance.

2015-16: Broncos 20 Patriots 18

This was probably the tensest championship game of the Belichick era. Denver’s incredible defense hit Brady incessantly. Manning threw two first-half touchdown passes to give the Broncos a 14-6 lead. The Pats dominated the second half with Rob Gronkowski scoring a touchdown with just 12 seconds remaining. However, the Broncos intercepted the ensuing 2-point conversion attempt. Denver survived 20-18 and went on to win the Super Bowl over the Carolina Panthers where they stuck with their 2015 formula: ugly offense with tremendous defense.

2016-17: Patriots 36 Steelers 17

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Pats unleashed Chris Hogan on the unsuspecting Steelers in this one-sided affair. Le’Veon Bell was injured early in the game putting a damper on the competitive aspect of the contest. The game was never really in doubt as the Pats rolled 36-17.

The Patriots face the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday for the right to play in their eighth Super Bowl in the Belichick era. Win or lose, it is unlikely that we will ever witness a dynasty quite like the Patriots of the past 20 years.

 

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Senior NFL Writer: Brandon is a sports historian and researcher. He has a superb memory and is a dynamic public speaker. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, he has followed the AFC East division passionately since the days of Steve Grogan, Joe Ferguson and AJ Duhe! His BA is in Journalism, but his PHD is in Super Bowl history. He has hosted the "Dr. Super Bowl Show" at Buffalo State College and has done spots for the old Empire Sports Network that includes covering Super Bowl XXXVIII and interviewing Pat Summerall. Brandon is a teacher at heart and loves to educate others about sports history. Daily, he relates facts and trivia about all things football, baseball, hockey, basketball, horse racing and classic rock. His role models are Norm Macdonald, Phil Collins and Brent Musberger. In a media full of hot takes and negativity, he writes with flair, joy and respect. And, most importantly, he loves his mom's Italian cooking.