Official website of the New England Patriots

Patriots drop B-movie thriller, 28-26

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]()Cassel came in early in the game and finished a respectable 11 of 20 for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns. His best play came late in the game when it mattered most and that bodes well for the young quarterback's future in the league.

It looked like New England would cash in on the first possession of the game, starting at its own 40 and moving to the Dolphins 23 in no-huddle mode. David Givens had caught an 18-yard pass on third and 10 earlier in the drive but later, had a third and two attempt bounce off his hands with Sam Madison in coverage and the Dolphins cornerback made the interception.

Instead of the Patriots scoring first, it was the Dolphins with their second try of the game, going 83 yards in 12 plays. Gus Frerotte had much of his success throwing to the flats. His 16-yard completion to Marty Booker gave his team a first and goal from the 2. On the next play Ricky Williams took it in up the middle for the score.

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]()On the ensuing kickoff, Andre Davis nearly evened the score. His return went 65 yards before he was brought down from behind by Sammy Morris. The play was good enough to have New England starting on the Miami 24 where it took 6 plays for Brady to find Deion Branch in the end zone from 11 yards out, a high pass that Branch made a nice play going up for and staying in bounds.

That would be it for Brady, a light workday with only 8 passes thrown and 3 completed for 37 yards.

Miami regained the lead with a 36-yard Olindo Mare field goal. The drive for the Dolphins was penalty-laden with one negating a Williams touchdown run from 16-yards out when guard Jeno James was flagged for holding.

In addition to Brady calling it a day, most of the defensive starters for New England were watching when Mare booted his second field goal of the first half, a 38-yarder. It was a nice job by their back-ups to plug the middle and stuff Ronnie Brown on a third and 1 play to force the Miami kick.

Matt Cassel, in for Brady, managed to get the offense close enought for a 49-yard attempt by Adam Vinatieri which the clutch kicker nailed as time ran out in the first half. Cassel only had 33 seconds to work with on the drive and did a nice job managing the clock and the offense to put Vinatieri in position. The big plays were a 17-yard completion to Tim Dwight and a pass interference call on Miami's Travares Tillman on a ball intended for Bam Childress.

The halftime score was Miami 13, New England 10.

Miami's field goal pattern continued with their first drive of the second half. Despite moving nicely down the field mixing Williams runs with a 20-yard completion to Chris Chambers and a 17-yarder to McMichael, Miami stalled near the Patriots red zone.

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]()Down 16-10, Cassel actually had a chance to give his team the lead on the next possession but he was just wide with a pass to a wide open Benjamin Watson on third and 10 from the Dolphins 15. As soon as the pass left his hand, Cassel knew he had missed an opportunity as Watson probably would have scored if the pass was accurate. Still, the young backup threaded a nice pass to Davis earlier in the drive for a 36-yard gain that led to a Vinatieri 33-yard field goal to make the score 16-13.

Give credit to the Patriots defense. With the exception of Ty Warren, it was almost exclusively back-ups getting a chance to play yet they were keeping Miami out of the end zone. The Dolphins picked up a couple of points on defense when, near the end of the third quarter and after Miami's Bryan Gilmore did a great job downing a punt on the 1, Cassel was leveled as he dropped back to pass in the end zone. Reggie Howard made the hit and the ball fell out of the back of the end zone giving Miami a safety and an 18-13 lead.

Miami added some cushion to their lead with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Booker with just over nine minutes left to play. The Patriots defense was being tested with runs by Williams and Brown with an occassional pass thrown in to keep them honest. Williams finished the day with 108 yards on 28 carries.

Cassel recorded his first career touchdown pass on the next drive. He connected with Watson for 30 yards down the middle of the field to the Miami 19. Four plays later, Tim Dwight ran a little curl in the middle of the field, made the catch and dove into the end zone.

That set the stage for some old school football. Instead of lining up for the traditional extra point by Vinatieri, Bill Belichick brought out Doug Flutie to drop-kick the ball through the uprights for the point. Flutie had proven adept at drop-kicking from his days in the Canadian Football League and Belichick showed a playful side in letting him make the attempt.

According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame website, the last time a drop kick was attempted in the NFL was in the championship game in 1941 between the Bears and Giants by Ray McLean.

The Dolphins were having none of the leather helmet antics. They continued to move the ball on offense and at the two-minute warning, Mare hit a 42-yard field goal to give Miami an 8-point lead at 28-20.

That left under two minutes for Cassel to bring his team down and score six and then attempt a two-point conversion for the tie.

The first big play was a 21-yard completion over the middle to Childress on third and 9. Cassel then hit Davis for 11. Now on the 29 of Miami, he spiked the ball and then threw incomplete. That brought up third and 10 and a short pass to Heath Evans. Evans rambled 19 yards but along the way, Davis was called for holding. Instead of a 19-yard pick-up, the spot foul netted New England a third and 1 from the 20. Cassel then kept for 2 yards and the first down.

On first and 10, Cassel looked to Davis in the left side of the end zone. The ball deflected off Davis and came down in Reggie Howard's arms, seemingly ending the Patriots hopes. But a late flag flew in the Patriots backfield where Jason Taylor got caught roughing Cassel. After overthrowing Dwight, Cassel took his second life and connected with Watson for the score from 9 yards out.

Down by 2, New England lined up for the two-point conversion. Cassel took the shotgun snap, and began to roll right. His pass intended for Childress was overthrown and with that play, New England ended the regular season at 10-6 and a 28-26 loss to the Dolphins.

Notes
Bam Childress was brought up from the practice squad before the game and had reps on both sides of the ball -- his usual wide receiver spot and also in the defensive backfield.
Patriots inactives: Asante Samuel; Artrell Hawkins; Corey Dillon; Tedy Bruschi; Bethel Johnson; Daniel Graham; Jarvis Green, Doug Flutie (3rd QB).
Dolphins inactives: Norman LeJune; Nick Rogers; C.J. Brooks; Manuel Wright; Anthony Alabi; Cliff Russell; Mike Labinjo; Cleo Lemon (3rd QB).

cassel_010106.jpg

]()Cassel came in early in the game and finished a respectable 11 of 20 for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns. His best play came late in the game when it mattered most and that bodes well for the young quarterback's future in the league.

It looked like New England would cash in on the first possession of the game, starting at its own 40 and moving to the Dolphins 23 in no-huddle mode. David Givens had caught an 18-yard pass on third and 10 earlier in the drive but later, had a third and two attempt bounce off his hands with Sam Madison in coverage and the Dolphins cornerback made the interception.

Instead of the Patriots scoring first, it was the Dolphins with their second try of the game, going 83 yards in 12 plays. Gus Frerotte had much of his success throwing to the flats. His 16-yard completion to Marty Booker gave his team a first and goal from the 2. On the next play Ricky Williams took it in up the middle for the score.

[

andre_davis_kickoff.jpg

]()On the ensuing kickoff, Andre Davis nearly evened the score. His return went 65 yards before he was brought down from behind by Sammy Morris. The play was good enough to have New England starting on the Miami 24 where it took 6 plays for Brady to find Deion Branch in the end zone from 11 yards out, a high pass that Branch made a nice play going up for and staying in bounds.

That would be it for Brady, a light workday with only 8 passes thrown and 3 completed for 37 yards.

Miami regained the lead with a 36-yard Olindo Mare field goal. The drive for the Dolphins was penalty-laden with one negating a Williams touchdown run from 16-yards out when guard Jeno James was flagged for holding.

In addition to Brady calling it a day, most of the defensive starters for New England were watching when Mare booted his second field goal of the first half, a 38-yarder. It was a nice job by their back-ups to plug the middle and stuff Ronnie Brown on a third and 1 play to force the Miami kick.

Matt Cassel, in for Brady, managed to get the offense close enought for a 49-yard attempt by Adam Vinatieri which the clutch kicker nailed as time ran out in the first half. Cassel only had 33 seconds to work with on the drive and did a nice job managing the clock and the offense to put Vinatieri in position. The big plays were a 17-yard completion to Tim Dwight and a pass interference call on Miami's Travares Tillman on a ball intended for Bam Childress.

The halftime score was Miami 13, New England 10.

Miami's field goal pattern continued with their first drive of the second half. Despite moving nicely down the field mixing Williams runs with a 20-yard completion to Chris Chambers and a 17-yarder to McMichael, Miami stalled near the Patriots red zone.

[

pats-miami-076.jpg

]()Down 16-10, Cassel actually had a chance to give his team the lead on the next possession but he was just wide with a pass to a wide open Benjamin Watson on third and 10 from the Dolphins 15. As soon as the pass left his hand, Cassel knew he had missed an opportunity as Watson probably would have scored if the pass was accurate. Still, the young backup threaded a nice pass to Davis earlier in the drive for a 36-yard gain that led to a Vinatieri 33-yard field goal to make the score 16-13.

Give credit to the Patriots defense. With the exception of Ty Warren, it was almost exclusively back-ups getting a chance to play yet they were keeping Miami out of the end zone. The Dolphins picked up a couple of points on defense when, near the end of the third quarter and after Miami's Bryan Gilmore did a great job downing a punt on the 1, Cassel was leveled as he dropped back to pass in the end zone. Reggie Howard made the hit and the ball fell out of the back of the end zone giving Miami a safety and an 18-13 lead.

Miami added some cushion to their lead with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Booker with just over nine minutes left to play. The Patriots defense was being tested with runs by Williams and Brown with an occassional pass thrown in to keep them honest. Williams finished the day with 108 yards on 28 carries.

Cassel recorded his first career touchdown pass on the next drive. He connected with Watson for 30 yards down the middle of the field to the Miami 19. Four plays later, Tim Dwight ran a little curl in the middle of the field, made the catch and dove into the end zone.

That set the stage for some old school football. Instead of lining up for the traditional extra point by Vinatieri, Bill Belichick brought out Doug Flutie to drop-kick the ball through the uprights for the point. Flutie had proven adept at drop-kicking from his days in the Canadian Football League and Belichick showed a playful side in letting him make the attempt.

According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame website, the last time a drop kick was attempted in the NFL was in the championship game in 1941 between the Bears and Giants by Ray McLean.

The Dolphins were having none of the leather helmet antics. They continued to move the ball on offense and at the two-minute warning, Mare hit a 42-yard field goal to give Miami an 8-point lead at 28-20.

That left under two minutes for Cassel to bring his team down and score six and then attempt a two-point conversion for the tie.

The first big play was a 21-yard completion over the middle to Childress on third and 9. Cassel then hit Davis for 11. Now on the 29 of Miami, he spiked the ball and then threw incomplete. That brought up third and 10 and a short pass to Heath Evans. Evans rambled 19 yards but along the way, Davis was called for holding. Instead of a 19-yard pick-up, the spot foul netted New England a third and 1 from the 20. Cassel then kept for 2 yards and the first down.

On first and 10, Cassel looked to Davis in the left side of the end zone. The ball deflected off Davis and came down in Reggie Howard's arms, seemingly ending the Patriots hopes. But a late flag flew in the Patriots backfield where Jason Taylor got caught roughing Cassel. After overthrowing Dwight, Cassel took his second life and connected with Watson for the score from 9 yards out.

Down by 2, New England lined up for the two-point conversion. Cassel took the shotgun snap, and began to roll right. His pass intended for Childress was overthrown and with that play, New England ended the regular season at 10-6 and a 28-26 loss to the Dolphins.

Notes
Bam Childress was brought up from the practice squad before the game and had reps on both sides of the ball -- his usual wide receiver spot and also in the defensive backfield.
Patriots inactives: Asante Samuel; Artrell Hawkins; Corey Dillon; Tedy Bruschi; Bethel Johnson; Daniel Graham; Jarvis Green, Doug Flutie (3rd QB).
Dolphins inactives: Norman LeJune; Nick Rogers; C.J. Brooks; Manuel Wright; Anthony Alabi; Cliff Russell; Mike Labinjo; Cleo Lemon (3rd QB).

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