1:00 PM ET, November 13, 2005
MIAMI (AP) -- Bill Belichick showed again how resourceful he can be. Not that Nick Saban expected anything less from his mentor.
With no running back, a Saban castoff at fullback and reserves at three other offensive positions, Belichick and the injury-riddled New England Patriots still beat Saban's Miami Dolphins 23-16 Sunday.
|It was over when ...|
|Brady hit Ben Watson with a 17-yard touchdown pass with less than three minutes to go to regain the lead.||Game ball goes to ...|
|Ben Watson, who scored a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winning catch.||ESPN's take ...|
You're seeing the pressure the Patriots offense is under right now as they are ineffective and banged up. Guys have to switch up their positions constantly and while that was a strength in the past, people tend to forget that they were playing with A-plus players and are now playing with C-players. Brady is going to give his team opportunities to win and is taking a stronger and more vocal leadership role by calling his teammates out when he feels they start to slip.
-- Eric Allen
"This is one of those great games that went back and forth," Belichick said. "It turned into a track meet at the end. I'm proud of the guys for hanging in there."
The game was the first between Belichick and protege Saban, a friend of 23 years. When the game ended, they shook hands at midfield and had a brief exchange.
Two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England (5-4) remained alone atop the AFC East. The Patriots have won 21 of their last 25 division games.
Miami (3-6) missed a chance to tie for the division lead, instead losing for the fifth time in six games.
"I can't sit here and say that our players aren't as good as their players," Saban said. "I feel terribly that we didn't get the result that we wanted."
Four offensive starters were inactive for the Patriots, and a fifth -- running back Corey Dillon -- was limited to two plays because his leg tightened.
"They're great at making adjustments, and great at getting things fixed," Saban said.
Belichick turned ball-carrying duties over to fullback Heath Evans, signed after Saban released him Oct. 25. Evans carried 17 times for 84 yards, surpassing in one game his total for any of his previous four NFL seasons.
"I remember the first day at practice when we thought, `Why did somebody release him?"' Brady said. "We thank the Dolphins very much for letting him go."
But it was Brady who bailed out the Patriots. He went 21-for-36 for 275 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to backup tight end Benjamin Watson.
"As usual, Tom played his best football when it counted," Belichick said.
Brady's first scoring pass covered 16 yards and put New England ahead 12-7 on the final play of the third quarter. But Frerotte, who went 25-for-47 for a season-high 360 yards, regained the lead for Miami on a bizarre 15-yard touchdown pass.
With the Dolphins in the shotgun on third-and-3, Seth McKinney snapped the ball prematurely and it deflected off Frerotte's right leg. He quickly picked it up and threw down the middle to Chris Chambers, wide open in the end zone after slipping behind Ellis Hobbs.
The Dolphins' 2-point conversion failed, leaving them ahead 16-15 with 2:59 to go.
Frerotte and the Dolphins weren't finished, and they reached the 5 with 58 seconds left. Saban, the target of much second-guessing when he opted to throw rather than run with a chance to force overtime a week ago, again went with passes.
Frerotte threw incomplete into the end zone on first and second downs, then hit Ronnie Brown in the flat for a 5-yard loss. Chambers had a chance to catch Frerotte's final throw, but the ball fell incomplete.
"I got my fingertips on it," said Chambers, who dropped three other passes. "I had a tough time picking up those low balls today."
Adam Vinatieri kicked three field goals for New England. Olindo Mare kicked one for Miami but missed a 31-yarder in the second quarter.
The Dolphins squandered another scoring chance when McMichael lost a fumble at the New England 9 and Hobbs recovered. ^Notes:@ Patriots C Dan Koppen went to the locker room in the third quarter with a left arm injury. ... Patriots WR David Givens, RB Patrick Pass, TE Daniel Graham and T Tom Ashworth were inactive. ... Frerotte's yardage total was his highest since 2000. ... The Patriots won in Miami for only the second time in their past eight attempts.
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||5.8||6.1|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||0-5||0-5|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|TD||4:26||Chris Chambers, 3 yd pass from Gus Frerotte (Olindo Mare kick is good)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 69 yds, 3:41
|FG||0:07||Adam Vinatieri 27 yd Field Goal|
Drive info: 9 plays, 68 yds, 1:41
|FG||5:31||Adam Vinatieri 24 yd Field Goal|
Drive info: 5 plays, 52 yds, 1:32
|TD||0:07||Benjamin Watson, 16 yd pass from Tom Brady|
Drive info: 10 plays, 53 yds, 4:54
|FG||12:29||Adam Vinatieri 25 yd Field Goal|
Drive info: 6 plays, 8 yds, 1:35
|FG||8:18||Olindo Mare 28 yd Field Goal|
Drive info: 10 plays, 57 yds, 4:01
Drive info: 6 plays, 56 yds, 2:05
|TD||2:19||Benjamin Watson, 17 yd pass from Tom Brady( run for 2pt conversion)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 76 yds, 0:34