Defense was the strong suit of a '63 Patriots club that recorded 56 sacks in 14 games. "Our defensive line coach, Marion Campbell, designed a whole series of blitzes that we used to great success all season long," recalled '63 Patriots free safety Ron Hall. "We would blitz on nearly every play and the opponents never knew where we would be coming from."
The furious Boston blitz keeps Drew Bledsoe off balance for most of the first half and the '63 Pats veteran quarterback Babe Parilli takes advantage. Twice in the first half he picks on corner Jimmy Hitchcock and finds his favorite target, Gino Cappelletti, for touchdowns.
Boston led the league in rushing defense in 1963 and they limit Curtis Martin and the New England running attack to only 51 yards on the ground. Throwing on nearly every down, Bledsoe connects on a 48-yard blitz-beating hookup with tight end Ben Coates. Dave Meggett scores the '97 club's only offensive touchdown of the day a few plays later on a 10-yard run.
The matchup between offensive tackle Bruce Armstrong and defensive end Larry Eisenhauer, arguably the best players at their respective positions in franchise history, becomes the focus of the second half. While Armstrong holds Boston's pass rushing specialist without a sack his teammates continue to hound Bledsoe.
Bledsoe shrugs off two sacks by outside linebacker Tom Addison and fires a big 30-yard strike to Shawn Jefferson. It sets up a 29-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal that sails into the Red Sox bullpen and shaves the lead to 14-10.
Pro Bowl linebacker Chris Slade is a thorn in Boston's side, with 11 tackles, three sacks, and two deflections, and is the major reason the '63 Pats are shutout in the second half. With Larry Garron being kept under wraps, Parilli has no choice but to go to the air and it costs him dearly when he forces one up under heavy pressure from Slade. The embattled Hitchcock gains revenge by picking off the errant aerial and highstepping down the sidelines for a 51-yard touchdown that puts his club in front to stay. As the gun sounds the New England players hoist Pete Carroll onto their shoulders for the victory ride he never received in his three years as head coach.
The postgame celebration is cut short when the Sox crusty groundskeeper Joe Mooney finds a horde of football players tearing up the precious Fenway sod, and he proceeds to chase them off the field with a rake. Carroll and his squad will get little respite since they now will have to take on Bill Belichick's 2001 Super Bowl champion squad, but at least the game should be rake-free.
Fenway Park, Boston, MA
|1997 New England Patriots||0||7||3||10||-||20|
|1963 Boston Patriots||7||7||0||0||-||14|
BOS '63-Cappelletti 4 pass from Parilli (Cappelletti kick) 3:53
NE '97-Meggett 10 run (Vinatieri kick) 8:18
BOS '63-Cappelletti 4 pass from Parilli (Cappelletti kick) 1:15
NE '97- FG Vinatieri 29, 6:45
NE '97-Hitchcock 51 interception return (Vinatieri kick) 5:43
NE '97-FG Vinatieri 26, 2:00
|**NE '97**||**BOS '63**|
NE '97- C.Martin 13-31, Meggett 6-20, Bledsoe 2-0
BOS '63-Parilli 4-34, Neumann 3-33, Crawford 6-25, Garron 12-18
NE '97-Coates 7-90, T.Brown 6-110, Jefferson 4-55, Byars 4-35, Glenn 3-44
BOS '63-Colclough 7-184, Cappellett 5-85, Garron 2-16, Neumann 1-0, A.Graham 1-20, Crawford 1-9
NE '97-Bledsoe 26-51-2-347
BOS '63-Parilli 17-35-1-314, 2 TD
BOS '63-Garron 2, Parilli 1
NE '97-T.Collins 1, T. Johnson 1
BOS '63-Stephens 1
NE '97-Hitchcock 1-51
BOS '63-Felt 2-30
NE '97-Slade 3, H.Thomas 2, Law 1
BOS '63 -Addison 2, Dee 1
Game MVP: Chris Slade