<p>The New England Patriots were up against NFL history and a Miami Dolphins team hungry to end it&#146;s season opening 4-game losing streak. Much like they&#146;ve done over the previous 18 games, Bill Belichick and Co. handled Sunday&#146;s game with calm and poise. By no means did New England play their best game over the course of their record-breaking 19 game winning streak. Yet, like coach Belichick said &#147;(We) did what we had to&#148; in beating Miami 24-10 at Gillette Stadium.</p>


Patriots Roll On for 19th Straight
by Chris Timoney,
Patriots Insider

PHOTO: New England Patriots fans cheer after their team scores a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during their AFC East conference game Sunday afternoon Oct. 10, 2004 in Foxboro Mass. The Patriots defeated the Dolphins 24-10 to win their 19th game in a row and become the sole owner of the NFL's longest winning streak. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

The New England Patriots were up against NFL history and a Miami Dolphins team hungry to end it’s season opening 4-game losing streak. Much like they’ve done over the previous 18 games, Bill Belichick and Co. handled Sunday’s game with calm and poise. By no means did New England play their best game over the course of their record-breaking 19 game winning streak. Yet, like coach Belichick said “(We) did what we had to” in beating Miami 24-10 at Gillette Stadium.

Coach Belichick knew that the Miami defense, if not their nonexistent offense, would show up to play today. Miami stifled Tom Brady both in the pocket and in the secondary, holding the Super Bowl MVP to only 76 yards passing(7 for 19) and picking him off once. It was the Dolphins anemic offense which lead to the first score of the game, a Patriots touchdown.

On their second drive of the game, Miami started out on their own 25 yard line. A Richard Seymour sack of quarterback Jay Fiedler on first down set the Dolphins back 7 yards. Set back to their 18 yard line, Fielder dropped back to pass on third and long. Fiedler’s attempt was intercepted by rookie defensive back Randall Gay at the 42 and returned to the Miami 30. Gay was in the game as part of a rotation put in place to compensate for the absence of cornerback Tyrone Poole who was out with a knee injury.

New England now had possession in Miami territory and quickly got down to the Miami 16 after a 12 yard reception to David Givens on third and 8. A penalty and stuffed Corey Dillon run put the Patriots in a 2nd and 22 situation. Much like last week against the Bills, New England was helped out by careless penalties. Miami defensive back Wil Poole was called for roughing the passer after hitting Tom Brady low at the knees on the 2nd and long play and the Patriots were awarded first down on the Miami 14. Corey Dillon ran up the middle for 12 yards on the next play to the 2, setting up a 1st and goal situation. Two plays later, with Mike Vrabel and Dan Klecko in as eligible receivers, Tom Brady found a wide open Daniel Graham in the endzone and the Pats were up 7-0.

It didn’t take long for the defending Super Bowl champs to put more points on the board. On their very next drive New England got 3 points off an Adam Vinatieri 40 yard field goal for the 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.

The field goal opportunity was set up in large part by a 28 yard pass by Brady to David Patten(Patten’s only catch of the day) on 3rd and 13 from the New England 46. On the play Brady had the luxury of having a lot of time in the pocket which was a frequent occurrence the he touched upon after the game. “They(the offensive line) give me the time to throw”, said Brady, “They prepare all week...they’re coached by one of the best(Dante Scharnecchia) and a guy who’s been here the longest’.

Early on the game looked as though it was headed for some form of blowout, but Miami’s defense played with pride in the first half and managed to keep the Dolphins in the game. As the Dolphins took possession of the ball with just over 9 minutes to go in the half their offense had a total of minus 1 yards. Starting out on their own 37 yard line Miami finally got something going with the help of a completely unknown. Completions to tight end Randy McMichael and wide receiver Chris Chambers of 19 and 6 yards respectively, helped out by a holding call on Ted Bruschi, brought the Dolphins to the New England 39 with just over 8 minutes to go in the half. It was at that point where running back Brock Forsey was introduced to the fans in Foxboro.

The second year back out of Boise State would have his number called on 5 consecutive plays, plowing through the middle of the Patriots defensive line for 29 yards down to the 10 yard line. On 3rd and 4 from the New England 10 Fielder found an outstretched Chris Chambers for the touchdown pass, cutting the Patriots lead to 10-7 with 5:20 remaining in the half.

The game now tight, Miami’s defense felt inspired and forced New England into a 3-and-out situation on the ensuing series. The Patriots would return the favor on Miami’s next possession, forcing them to punt after two Forsey runs and an incomplete pass to Chris Chambers. On the punt play, the snap went slightly wide to the left to Miami punter Matt Turk. Turk was unsettled by the slightly wide snap and took off running, much to the dismay not to mention disapproval of head coach Dave Wannstedt. “He said the snap was a little bit high, but you need to kick the ball. I don’t think anyone was rushing him”.

Turk fell shy of the first down and New England took over on the Miami 46.
Another careless penalty by Miami would aide the Patriots in another scoring drive. After a Corey Dillon run of two yards on 2nd and 4, which would have set up a 3rd and 2 situation, Dolphins defensive back Sammy Knight took a swing at Patriots wide receiver David Givens after the two were tied up on the play. Knight missed on the punch, but the officials did not. The fifteen yards assessed on the penalty moved the ball to the Miami 23. Brady hit running back Kevin Faulk on a screen pass for 14 yards bringing the ball to the 6 yard line. Two plays later, off play-action to Dillon, Brady found Givens open in the endzone for the score and the 17-7 lead. A lead they’d take into the half.

The second half didn’t start out any better for the winless Dolphins. With their first possession of the half Miami found themselves with a 3rd and 6 on their own 40. Fielder scrambled as soon as the pocket collapsed around him and headed for the first down. Seven yards later Fielder was hit by Rodney Harrison. The hit, perfectly made by the veteran defender, knocked the ball loose. The fumble was recovered by New England safety Dexter Reid at the Miami 48 yard line.

On the ensuing drive Corey Dillon(94 yards on 18 rushes) set up a 1st and goal situation after barreling down to the 4 yard line on a brilliant 36 yard run on 3rd and 2 from the 40. Dillon would catch a breather on the sidelines the next few plays. Dillon’s rest opened the door for third string running back Rabih Abdullah. Miami made 2 goal line stands on 1st and 2nd down. On third and goal penalties again would plague the Dolphins.

Pass interference was called on linebacker Morlon Greenwood on a pass attempt to Daniel Graham. On 1st and goal from the 1 yard line Abdullah would capitalize, plowing behind the left side of the offensive line for the score. The touchdown gave New England a 24-7 lead with just under 8:30 left in the third quarter.

Miami special teams player Wesley Welker, who was called into action as the emergency place kicker after Olindo Mare was unavailable due to a pulled calf muscle, kicked a 29 yard field goal on the following drive for Miami.

The field goal capped off a 51 yard drive by Miami and brought the Dolphins to within 2 touchdowns, 24-10, with just under 2 minutes to go in the third.

In the fourth quarter Miami twice drove deep into Patriots territory. With just over 4 minutes remaining Miami had a 1st and 10 from the New England 11 yard line. A series of incomplete passes along with a delay of game penalty left Miami coming up empty. A 3-and-out by the Patriots on the next possession gave Miami possession on the New England 46. On first down Fiedler found Marty Booker(7 catches for 123 yards) for 45 yards to the 1 yard line. On 2nd and goal Fiedler was sacked and thrown to the ground by a blitzing Rodney Harrison. The play knocked Fiedler(20 for 40, 251 yds, 1TD, 1INT) out of the game with bruised ribs. A.J. Feely came in to replace Fiedler under center and completed to Chris Chambers for 6 yards to the 7 yard line. On 4th and 7 Feely threw incomplete to Chambers and was racked by linebacker Roosevelt Colvin, visibly shaking up the Dolphins backup quarterback.

Brady would take a knee 3 times to seal the Patriots record breaking 19th victory in a row.

The victory which launched this Patriots team into the record books held more importance as a season and divisional win to both players and coaches.

“A division win against Miami”, said Belichick, “They’re one of the best defensive teams in the league year in and year out.” “Give credit to the Miami defense, they play about as tough as anyone we play”, continued Belichick.

Of the streak, the record breaking coach simply said, “I told the team I was proud of them...they should be proud of what they accomplished”.
Sticking to his one win at a time mentality Belichick reiterated,”(We) have a tough one coming up against Seattle...there’s a lot of things we can do better.”

QB Tom Brady, who admitted that the team and it’s players seam to take on their head coach's persona concurred with Belichick saying, “The short term goals are win one game...Our goal is still out their to be achieved.”

The loss drops Miami to 0-5, it’s worst start since the teams expansion year in 1966. Daniel Graham’s touchdown reception was his 5th of the season and his only of the day. WR Bethel Johnson was inactive due to a coaches decision. Miami had 295 total net yards to New England’s 204. K Wes Welker’s field goal was only his 2nd ever in game action, his 1st was a failed extra point attempt while at Texas Tech. The last team to win 18 consecutive games were the ‘97-’98 Broncos who went onto win the Super Bowl in both those seasons. A Patriot’s win next week against Seattle would tie the record for most consecutive regular season wins (17) set by the 1933-34 Chicago Bears.

Chris Timoney is a site contributor for the Patriots Insider. You can find him in the forums under the name: jakbrown. You can also find archives of his columns on the Insiders by using the search feature on this site.

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