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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu Sep 24 | 04:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Pre-Game Report

New England (6-3), Miami Dolphins (7-2)Sunday, Nov. 21, 1999, 1:00 p.m. ETat Pro Player Stadium

Where can you catch the game?

Television:This week's game will be broadcast regionally on CBS (locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston). Greg Gumbel will provide play-by-play detail alongside broadcast partner Phil Simms. Armen Keteyian will report from the sidelines.
Radio:WBCN's Rock Radio Network 104.1 FM. Gil Santos, the voice of the Patriots, will call all the action along with Gino Cappelletti, his broadcast partner for 16 years.

The New England Patriots (6-3) travel to Miami this week to battle the division leading Miami Dolphins (7-2). Both teams will attempt to rebound from stinging Week 10 divisional losses. Last week, the Dolphins were Buffaloed by the Bills, 23-3, while the Patriots were grounded by the Jets, 24-17, in Foxboro.

The AFC East has been a tight race all season. The Patriots entered Monday night's matchup needing a win to move into a three-way tie for first place with the Dolphins and the Colts (7-2), but were instead dealt their third loss of the season and slipped to fourth place in the standings.

Last week, the Patriots found themselves trailing at the half for the fourth time this year. But, for the first time, they were unable to overcome that deficit. Despite their loss, the Patriots' 13-7 record against AFC East opponents since 1997 still ranks first in the division. Six of those 13 divisional victories have come in the month of November. The Patriots' next two games this month are against divisional opponents.

The Patriots enter this week's game looking to avenge last month's 31-30 loss to the Dolphins. In that game, Dan Marino was sidelined early in the first quarter with an injury and was replaced by Damon Huard, who led the Dolphins on a game-winning touchdown drive, leaving just 28 seconds on the clock. The Dolphins have not swept the Patriots in a seasonal series since 1994. During Pete Carroll three-year tenure, the Patriots have won four of six games against the Dolphins, including their 1997 playoff game.

The Patriots face their toughest stretch of the season in the next few weeks. Entering Week 11, the Patriots find themselves trailing Miami, Indianapolis and Buffalo in their division and will battle each of them in the next four weeks. To make matters worse, each of those games will be played on the road (see below). In fact, four of the Patriots next five games are on the road. After traveling to Miami (11/21) and Buffalo (11/28), the Patriots return for a Sunday night game against the Cowboys (12/5) before heading to Indianapolis (12/12) and Philadelphia (12/19).

AFC East – A Dominant Division

As predicted, the AFC East has proven to be the tightest division race in football. Last season, the division locked up four of the conferences' six playoff spots and this year they continue their exceptional play, notching the most victories of any division in football, 30.

In three of the next four weeks the Patriots will take their show on the road and challenge AFC East opponents, Miami (11/21), Buffalo (11/28) and Indianapolis (12/12).

Since Pete Carroll took over the coaching responsibilities of the Patriots in 1997, the Patriots have put together the best record within the division (13-7). It includes a 4-2 record versus Miami (including the playoffs), 5-0 regular season mark against the Colts and a 3-1 regular season record against the Buffalo Bills.

SERIES HISTORY

This week's game will be the 69th encounter between the two teams, dating back to the 1966 season. The Patriots trail the Dolphins in the series, with a 26-38 record (2-1 in the playoffs), but have won five of the last eight meetings. In fact, Pete Carroll has a 4-2 record against the Dolphins over the past three seasons.

The teams have met three times in the playoffs and the Patriots were victorious in two of the three games, including a 17-3 wild-card victory in 1997.

LAST MEETING

The New England Patriots lost to their division rival Miami Dolphins 31-30 at Foxboro Stadium on Oct. 17. The Dolphins scored the go-ahead touchdown when quarterback Damon Huard threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Stanley Pritchett with just 23 seconds remaining in the contest.

The Patriots defense opened the game with two interception returns for touchdowns and led 14-0. Rookie linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer intercepted a Dan Marino pass and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown. Marino left the game after suffering trapezius spasms after his second series and was replaced by third-year back-up Huard. On his first pass attempt, Huard was intercepted by cornerback Ty Law, who returned the pick 27 yards for a touchdown.

Miami was able to cut their deficit to one point 14-13, following two field goals and one touchdown midway through the second quarter. The two teams traded field goals, the Patriots Adam Vinatieri kicked a 41-yarder and Miami's Olindo Mare booted a 45-yard kick. Both kickers were successful on all nine field goals attempts, Vinatieri made all three and Mare kicked six.

The Patriots increased their lead to 24-16 on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Drew Bledsoe to Tony Simmons. Bledsoe led his team 80 yards on nine plays, completing five of eight passes. The Dolphins added a field goal before the half to cut the Patriots lead to 24-19.

New England opened the second half by driving 53 yards on eight plays and increased their lead by three points on a 39-yard Vinatieri field goal. It was the third time this year, they scored on their first possession of the second half.

The Patriots defense was in the Dolphin backfield all day. They combined for nine sacks, just one shy of the team record of 10, set at Oakland, on Sept. 22, 1963. It was the fifth time in team history that they had at least nine sacks. On Miami's second possession of the second half, Huard was sacked on all three plays and Miami was forced to punt.

The two teams traded field goals and New England led 30-22. Miami scored the final nine points of the game, including the 5-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds remaining and won 31-30.

CLOSE UP

The last five games between the Patriots and Dolphins have been decided by three points or less. The Patriots are 3-2 in those games.

NOVEMBER REIGN

The Patriots began the second half of the 1999 season last week versus the Jets with their first of three divisional games in the month of November. Since 1995, the Patriots have played 19 games in the month of November and have a 12-7 record. Of the 19 games, 15 have been played against divisional opponents and the Patriots have posted a 12-3 (.800) record in those games. It includes a 6-2 mark in the past three seasons.

AFC EAST STANDINGS

WLTPct.
New England Patriots630.667
Miami Dolphins720.778
Indianapolis Colts720.778
Buffalo Bills730.700
New York Jets360.333
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