BACK-TO-BACK HOME SHUTOUTS
The Patriots have recorded shutouts in consecutive home games for the first time in team history. It's the third time in franchise history the Patriots have recorded two shutouts in a season. The other times New England notched twin blankings were in 1983 and 1982. Tonight's 12-0 win over Miami was the 19th shutout in franchise history. Prior to this season, the Patriots had not recorded a shutout since 1996.
FULL TILT, FULL TIME
Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi has now returned each of his last four interceptions for touchdowns. Bruschi returned a pick five yards for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 10-0 lead with 8:59 left in the game. It was the fourth interception Bruschi has returned for a touchdown in his career, ranking him second on the Patriots' all-time list behind Ty Law (6 INTs returned for TD). It was Bruschi's second interception returned for a touchdown this season (at Philadelphia), and it was the fifth defensive touchdown the Patriots have scored this season.
DEFENDING THEIR TERRITORY
The Patriots' defense has not allowed their opponents to score a single point at Gillette Stadium in 10 consecutive quarters of football. The last time an opponent scored at Gillette Stadium was when Phil Dawson of the Cleveland Browns converted a 29-yard field goal with 24 seconds left in the first half on Oct. 26. New England shut out Cleveland in the second half of its 9-3 win, then shut out the Dallas Cowboys, 12-0 on Nov. 16. and shut out the Dolphins tonight, 12-0.
DEFENSE IN THE ZONE
The Patriots defense has not allowed a touchdown at Gillette Stadium since Oct. 5., a span of four games. New England allowed no touchdowns in victories over the New York Giants (17-6, Oct. 12), Cleveland (9-3, Oct. 26) and Dallas (12-0, Nov. 16). Miami also did not score tonight in a 12-0 New England win. The last time an opponent scored a touchdown at Gillette Stadium was on Steve McNair's 1-yard run with 4:40 left in the Patriots' 38-30 win over the Titans on Oct. 5.
Rodney Harrison came up with a big defensive play when he sacked Jay Fiedler for a 12-yard loss and forced him to fumble as the Dolphins had marched to the Patriots' 10-yard line. Mike Vrabel recovered the fumble and thwarted the deepest Dolphins drive without allowing any points.
Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour opened up a sack attack on the Dolphins and quarterback Jay Fiedler after the Dolphins earned a first down at the Patriots' 35-yard line at the beginning of the fourth quarter. After Ty Law batted away a pass intended for Chris Chambers on first down, Vrabel broke through the line and dropped Fiedler for a 10-yard loss, setting up third-and-20. On third down, Richard Seymour sacked Fiedler again or a 13-yard loss, setting up a fourth-and-33 and the Dolphins' ninth punt of the day.
LAW AND ORDER
Ty Law snared his team-leading fifth interception of the season when he picked off a Jay Fiedler pass in the fourth quarter. It was the 34th career pick for Law, moving him to within two picks of Raymond Clayborn's franchise record (36).
LET IT SNOW
According to local television reports, the Foxborough area received 30 inches of snow from Friday through Sunday nights. Today's game began in light to moderate snowfall until the snow finally tapered off midway through the second quarter. It was the first game during which snow has fell in Foxborough since the 2001 "Snow Bowl" playoff win over Oakland. It marks the fifth game played under snowfall in Foxborough. The Patriots are a perfect 5-0 in snowy games.
SNOW GAMES IN FOXBOROUGH (5-0)
|12/07/03||MIA||28||Light Snow, Wind||W||12-0|
|01/19/02||OAK||25||Snow, 3-5 inches||W||16-13 ot|
|12/10/78||BUF||28||Snow, Some Sun||W||26-24|
HOT WHEN IT'S COLD
At kickoff, the temperature was 28 degrees with a 17-degree wind chill. Including tonight's game, the Patriots are 12-2 when it's 35 degrees or colder since 1993, including a 3-1 record in the playoffs. Tonight's game was the coldest Patriots game since the "Snow Bowl" against Oakland in the 2001 playoffs. That game was a frigid 25-degree affair, which the Patriots won, 16-13 in overtime, to advance to the AFC Championship Game.
Adam Vinatieri edged a 29-yard field goal just inside the left upright to give the Patriots a 3-0 lead with 1:46 left in the first quarter. The boot came through light snowfall before the precipitation ended midway through the second quarter. Vinatieri has 898 points in his career and needs two more points to join Gino Cappelletti (1,130 points) as the only two Patriots in team history to record over 900 points.
The Patriots forced Miami's offense to go three-and-out on five of its six first-half possessions. The Patriots did not allow Miami to gain a first down until 7:43 remained in the first half. On their first three drives, the Dolphins gained just 16 yards of offense. On their last two drives of the second half, Miami had a net gain of –1 yard. On the Dolphins' first series of the game, Ty Law set the tone by leaping in on third down to bat a pass away from the waiting arms of Chris Chambers. New England's tough pass defense also forced third-down incompletions on the Dolphins' second and third series.
PUSH 'EM BACK
Willie McGinest and Rodney Harrison came up with two big plays leading to losses of yardage as the Patriots stalled two second-quarter drives by Miami. Midway through the second quarter, with the Dolphins positioned at their own 49-yard line and poised to break into Patriots territory, McGinest sacked Jay Fiedler for a loss of seven yards, setting up a third-and-14. On third down, Harrison busted into the Dolphins' backfield to drag down Travis Minor for a 5-yard loss after he grabbed a pass from Fiedler. The Dolphins were forced to punt on the next play. On the Dolphins' next possession, the Patriots allowed Ricky Williams a total of just one yard on three carries to force their fifth three-and-out of the game.