The 1990 New England Patriots season was the team's 31st, and 21st in the National Football League. It was the first and only season for head coach Rod Rust.
The Patriots finished the season with a record of 1–15, the worst record in franchise history. They finished last in the AFC East Division and dead last in the NFL. Notably, they lost a nationally-televised game to the Washington Redskins in which they were down 9–0 before the Redskins even ran an offensive play. The Redskins' two first-quarter scores came on a Kurt Gouveia fumble return for a touchdown, and the Patriots snapping the ball out of the end zone for a safety. The announced crowd for the game, played in a driving rain, was 22,286.
The Patriots’ final game of the season, against the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants, drew a sellout crowd to Foxboro, but over 40,000 fans were rooting for the visitors, as tickets to Giants home games were nearly impossible to come by for non-season-ticket holders.
The Patriots’ negative-265 point-differential (181 points scored, 446 points surrendered) was the worst total of the 1990s. It is notable that like the previous season's Dallas Cowboys, the Patriots played only three teams with non-winning records – divisional rivals the Colts and Jets plus one game against the Phoenix Cardinals – all season.
The 1990 Patriots and 1981 Baltimore Colts are the only NFL teams since 1940 to have eleven losses during which they never led in one season.
The 1990 Patriots became the third team to end a season at 1-15, and would be matched by the 1991 Colts the next year.
The day after the Patriots' only victory of the season, tight end Zeke Mowatt, running back Robert Perryman and wide receiver Michael Timpson allegedly stood in front of Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson semi-naked and sexually harassed her in the Patriots locker room at Foxboro Stadium. The incident proved a major embarrassment for the franchise, and the team lost its final 14 games, and was accused in the media of quitting in most of the losses.