The New England Patriots participated in the National Football League's 1996 season, the team's 37th in football. The Patriots finished 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.


In the AFC Championship Game, Although New England gained just 234 yards compared to the Jags 289, they made up the difference by forcing four turnovers, including three consecutive takeaways on the last three Jacksonville possessions of the game.


The Jaguars were forced to punt on their first possession, but a high snap enabled defensive back Larry Whigham to tackle punter Bryan Barker at the Jacksonville 4-yard line. Moments later, New England running back Curtis Martin scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run. After a few punts, New England managed a drive into Jaguars territory, but defensive back Aaron Beasley intercepted Drew Bledsoe's pass at the 8-yard line to keep the score 7–0 at the end of the first quarter.


In the second quarter, Jaguars kicker Mike Hollis made a 32-yard field goal at the end of a 13-play, 62-yard drive. Their defense then forced the Patriots to punt, but returner Chris Hudson lost the ball from a hit by Marty Moore and Mike Bartum recovered for New England on the Jags 19-yard line. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 29-yard field goal as a result of the turnover, making the score 10–3. Later on, with 1:29 left in the half, Bledsoe led the Patriots down the field on a 68-yard drive, completing a 19-yard pass to Shawn Jefferson, a 5-yard toss to tight end Ben Coates on 4th and 5, and another completion to Jefferson that moved the ball 38 yards to the Jacksonville 3-yard line. New England could go no further, however, so Vinatieri kicked his second field goal of the day to increase their lead to 13–3 going into halftime


Jacksonville took the second half kickoff and drove to the New England 31-yard line, only to lose the ball when quarterback Mark Brunell was stuffed for no gain on 4th and 1. Three plays later, Bledsoe lost a fumble while being tackled by Kevin Hardy, which linebacker Eddie Robinson recovered for Jacksonville on the Pats 37 to set up a 28-yard Hollis field goal that cut the score to 13–6.


Midway through the fourth quarter, the Patriots drove to the Jacksonville 23-yard line. They were in prime position to build a big lead, but Bledsoe was sacked for a 6-yard loss on third down and Vinatieri drilled his 46-yard field goal attempt wide left. Jacksonville took the ball back and drove to the New England 5-yard line, but with just under four minutes left in the game, Patriots defensive back Willie Clay intercepted a Mark Brunell pass in the end zone. Following a punt, Jacksonville got another chance to drive for the tying touchdown with 2:36 left. However, this time they lost the ball on their first play with a fumble by James Stewart. New England defensive back Otis Smith recovered the ball and returned it 47 yards for the game clinching touchdown, giving his team a 20–6 lead. Jacksonville would get one more possession, which ended with an interception by linebacker Tedy Bruschi.


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1996 New England Patriots AFC Championship Ring

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Tags: 1996, New England, Patriots, AFC, Championship Ring