The 2004 New England Patriots season was the 35th season for the team in the National Football League and 45th season overall. They finished with their second straight 14–2 record before advancing to and winning Super Bowl XXXIX, their third Super Bowl victory in four years. They are, as of the present, the last team to repeat as World Champions. Following a Super Bowl win in 2003, the Patriots looked to improve their running game in the offseason. Replacing Antowain Smith was longtime but disgruntled Cincinnati Bengals running back Corey Dillon, who was acquired in a trade days before the 2004 NFL Draft; Dillon would rush for a career-high 1,635 yards in 2004. Winning their first six games of the season, the Patriots set the NFL record for consecutive regular season victories (18), which was later broken by the 2006–2008 Patriots (21), and consecutive regular season and playoff victories (21) before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 31. In that game, Pro Bowl cornerback Ty Law was lost for the season with a foot injury. Combined with the loss of other starting cornerback Tyrone Poole two weeks earlier, the Patriots were forced to complete the regular season and playoffs by using second-year cornerback Asante Samuel, undrafted free agent Randall Gay, and longtime Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown at cornerback, among others. With a 14–2 record and the second seed in the AFC playoffs, the Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts at home in the playoffs for the second-straight year, holding the Colts' top offense to three points. The Patriots then defeated the top-seeded Pittsburgh Steelers on the road, 41–27, in the AFC Championship Game. Prior to the Patriots' matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX, Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell said he did not know the names of the Patriots' defensive backs, which was taken as a sign of disrespect by the Patriots' "replacement" secondary. The Patriots would go on to defeat the Eagles 24–21 in their second straight Super Bowl victory and third championship in four seasons, leading to some labeling the Patriots of the era a sports dynasty.
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