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Former Patriots head coach Ron Erhardt passes away

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Ron Erhardt, who served as Patriots head coach for three seasons from 1979 through 1981. Erhardt passed away today at age 80 near his home in Boca Raton, Fla.

Erhardt and Bill Belichick served on the same staff with the New York Giants from 1982 through 1991 and were a part of two Super Bowl championships together.

Erhardt first joined the Patriots on March 14, 1973, as the backfield coach, a position he held for four seasons before being promoted to offensive coordinator on Feb. 1, 1977. Erhardt and fellow assistant Hank Bullough were co-head coaches for the final game in 1978 after head coach Chuck Fairbanks was suspended by the team's ownership.

Erhardt officially was named head coach of the Patriots on April 6, 1979. He coached the Patriots to a 9-7 record in 1979 and a 10-6 record in 1980 but missed the playoffs in both seasons. The Patriots fell to a 2-14 record in 1981 and Erhardt was dismissed at the end of the year. The Patriots 1980 team scored 441 points, a record that stood until the 2007 team scored 589 points.

Erhardt joined the New York Giants as offensive coordinator for 10 seasons (1982-91) and then served as the offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1992-95) and New York Jets (1996-97) before retiring from the NFL.

A native of Mandan, N.D., Erhardt was a successful high school coach after graduating from Jamestown College in 1953. His success elevated him to the collegiate level, where he served as an assistant at North Dakota State for three years before becoming head coach of the school in 1966. That appointment set the stage for a strong tenure with a 61-7-1 record in his seven years that included two college national championships.

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