1:00 PM ET, November 13, 2005
New England (4-4) at Miami (3-5), Sunday, 1:00 pm EST
The two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player was intercepted four times, including twice in the final two minutes, as the New England Patriots blew a late lead and lost to the Dolphins, 29-28, here last December 20.
It was one of two losses by New England and the highlight of Miami's otherwise dismal 4-12 season.
"I remember we blew an 11-point lead with four minutes to go," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "But that was last year. It has nothing to do with this Sunday."
Brady was 18-of-29 for 171 yards and three touchdowns but was yards and a score for New England.
The Patriots had won 39 straight games when leading heading into the fourth quarter before that loss.
But the Patriots went on to win their second straight Super Bowl title and third in four years and the Dolphins lured coach Nick Saban away from Louisiana State in the offseason, signing him to a five-year contract worth $22 million.
Saban and Belichick are close friends. Saban worked as Belichick's defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94. In their last season together, the Browns earned a wild card berth with an 11-5 record.
Saban then left to take over at Michigan State, where he coached for five seasons before going to LSU, where he coached for another five years and guided the Tigers to a share of the national championship in 2003.
The Dolphins have lost four of their last five games under Saban, but trail the first-place Patriots by just one game in the AFC East.
New England has matched its losses from the last two seasons combined and continues to struggle defensively. The Patriots rank 30th in points allowed (27.5 per game) and 31st in yards (370.9) after Monday's 40-21 loss to Indianapolis.
New England has yielded 128.9 rushing yards per game and could use massive nose tackle Keith Traylor, who was released in the offseason and signed with Miami. Last year, Traylor rotated with Vince Wilfork at nose tackle for the Patriots. Last week, Traylor had five tackles and a sack for the Dolphins in the loss to Atlanta.
The Patriots also have missed Pro Bowl defensive end Richard Seymour, who has been sidelined for the last four games with a knee injury.
But Miami may have a tough time stopping the Patriots, who rank first in passing (275.9 yards per game). Brady completed 22-of-33 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to Indianapolis.
Dillon has rushed for 325 yards on 66 carries in his last three games against Miami.
The Dolphins yielded 162 yards on the ground against Atlanta and allowed Michael Vick to throw for 228 yards.
Series: Miami leads, 46-33, and has won 13 of the last 15 meetings at Dolphins Stadium.
Next week: New England hosts New Orleans, November 20 Miami visits Cleveland, November 20
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Patriots limp into Miami
New England is in real danger of falling below .500 and losing its slim lead in the AFC East. Ideally, the Patriots would like to stack the line of scrimmage with eight and nine men in an effort to force Miami QB Gus Frerotte to win this game with his arm. However, a secondary that has been depleted by injuries is vulnerable to getting beat deep when New England moves extra defenders into the box. The Patriots can expect to see a steady diet of RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams as a result.
Balanced offenses keep defenses guessing, causing them to react a little slower, making it easier for blockers to get into position. Since the Patriots have had a relatively one-dimensional passing attack this year, opposing defenses have been aggressive getting upfield on the pass rush, which puts more pressure on a young left side of the offensive line. New England needs to take some off that pressure of QB Tom Brady and that left side of the offensive line by showing a greater commitment to the ground game.
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|Avg Points Allowed||26.2||19.3|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NE|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NE|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|New England leads 6-4|
|Dec 20, 2004||NE 28, @MIA 29|
|Oct 10, 2004||NE 24, MIA 10|
|Dec 7, 2003||NE 12, MIA 0|
|Oct 19, 2003||NE 19, @MIA 13|
|Dec 29, 2002||NE 27, MIA 24|
|Oct 6, 2002||NE 13, @MIA 26|
|Dec 22, 2001||NE 20, MIA 13|
|Oct 7, 2001||NE 10, @MIA 30|