1985 Patriots late drive pulls out 27-24 win over '78 Pats
The contest to decide who will face the Super Bowl champs in the semifinals pits two of the strongest rushing teams in Patriots history in the '78 and '85 New England Patriots. Eight players from Chuck Fairbanks' '78 squad were still with the Patriots in 1985 including quarterback Steve Grogan, who is eminently qualified to analyze this contest.
"Both teams can score points, but the '78 team wasn't quite as good on defense," opines Grogan. "The special teams were a lot better on the '85 team, so I would expect them to win this game."As if on cue the '85 Pats start fast, as Tony Eason connects with Stanley Morgan early and often for a 10-0 lead after one quarter. The '78 Patriots storm back with Grogan hitting the younger version of Morgan for a 38-yard score. Their momentum is short lived when Stephen Starring takes the ensuing kickoff back 63 yards to set up a short Tony Franklin field goal and a 13-7 advantage for the '85 squad at halftime.
While Fairbanks was never known for his inspirational speeches his team comes out recharged after the break. Sam "Bam" Cunningham rips off a 39-yard gain that sets up a chip shot field goal by David Posey. Mosi's Mooses, the diehard fan club of Mosi Tatupu, then go wild when their Samoan hero jars the ball loose from Starring on the subsequent kickoff. "Once we got rolling we were pretty tough to stop," remembers '78 Pats center Bill Lenkaitis. "We would just blow people off the ball all game long."
Two plays later Andy Johnson sweeps right for the score that put his teammates in front for the first time 17-13. When Richard Bishop sacks Eason moments later it seems that the '78 Pats are in control, but their weakness on special teams soon becomes their Achilles Heel. Rich Camarillo's booming 52-yard punt pins them deep, and when Irving Fryar returns a short Jerrel Wilson punt to midfield the chance to gain control of the game has vanished. A short time later Morgan is in the end zone again and the '85 team retakes the lead as the third quarter ends.
Twice in the fourth quarter the '78 Pats are on the verge of a score only to come up empty. Grogan finally takes matters into his own hands and hits Stanley Steamer on a 57-yard bomb to put his team back on top 24-20.
Unfazed Eason marches the Pats 76 yards in 12 plays for the go-ahead touchdown marking the fourth lead change of the second half. With 14 seconds remaining and overtime looming the '78 Pats shaky kicking game betrays them, as Posey's 43-yard attempt sails wide right.In a bizarre twist Stanley Morgan has to share the game MVP award with himself for his outstanding performances on both squads. Ty Law of the Super Bowl champs would agree that one Morgan is more than enough, as their teams will now battle for a trip to the finals. Visit www.patriots.com for ticket information.
Sullivan Stadium, Foxboro MA
|1978 New England Patriots||0||7||10||7||-||24|
|1985 New England Patriots||10||3||7||7||-||27|
NE '85-FG Franklin 42 10:37
NE '85-Fryar 21 pass from Eason (Franklin kick) 4:15
NE '78-Morgan 38 pass from Grogan (Posey kick) 10:44
NE '85-FG Franklin 22 6:57
NE '78-FG Posey 21 10:59
NE '78-A.Johnson 11 run (Posey) 9:49
NE '85-Morgan 11 pass from Grogan (Franklin kick) 4:02
NE '78-Morgan 57 pass from Grogan (Posey kick) 6:36
NE '85-Ramsey 5 pass from Eason (Franklin kick) 1:21
|**NE '78**||**NE '85**|
NE '78-Cunningham 18-106, A.Johnson 12-47, Grogan 2-13, Ivory 2-3
NE '85-C.James 17-71, Collins 11-44, Eason 3--2
NE '78-Morgan 5-155, H.Jackson 2-66, Francis 2-31, A.Johnson 1-8
NE '85-Morgan 7-99, Collins 4-27, Fryar 3-47, Ramsey 2-11, C.Jones 2-18, Dawson 2-7
NE '78-Grogan 10-16-1-260, 2 TD
NE '85-Eason 20-25-0-209, 3 TD
NE '85-Eason 1, Starring 1
NE '78-Costict 1
NE '85-Brock 1
NE '85-Marion 1-23
NE '78-Bishop 1, Hamilton 1
NE '85-Tippett 1, Veris 1
MVP:Stanley Morgan NE '85
Stanley Morgan NE '78