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New England at Miami

Pats escape Miami with victory as Belichick gets better of Saban

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

MIAMI -- Bill Belichick showed again how resourceful he can be. Not that Nick Saban expected anything less from his mentor.

Instead of Pats on back, captains give kicks in butt
by Pete Prisco
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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.

Tom Brady brought New England from behind twice in the second half, throwing for the game-winning score with 2:16 left. Gus Frerotte then drove the Dolphins 70 yards to the 5 with a minute remaining, but his fourth-down pass went off Chris Chambers' fingertips in the end zone with 36 seconds to go.

"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 past 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 Ben 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 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.

New England needed only two plays to come back. First, Brady threw 59 yards to Tim Dwight, who outwrestled Reggie Howard for the ball. Then, Brady hit Watson with a 17-yard touchdown pass.

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.


  • Patriots center Dan Koppen went to the locker room in the third quarter with a left arm injury.
  • Patriots wide receiver David Givens, running back Patrick Pass, tight end Daniel Graham and tackle 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.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Rosevelt Colvin (top) forces a critical fumble by Randy McMichael late in the first half.
Rosevelt Colvin (top) forces a critical fumble by Randy McMichael late in the first half. (AP)


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Scoring Summary
TDChris Chambers, 3 Yd pass from Gus Frerotte (Olindo Mare kick is good), 4:22. Drive: 8 plays, 69 yards in 3:45.
FGAdam Vinatieri 35 Yd, 0:03. Drive: 8 plays, 68 yards in 1:45.
FGAdam Vinatieri 32 Yd, 5:27. Drive: 4 plays, 52 yards in 1:36.
TDBen Watson, 16 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Tom Brady 2 Pt. Conversion pass to Troy Brown failed), 0:00. Drive: 10 plays, 53 yards in 5:01.
FGAdam Vinatieri 33 Yd, 12:24. Drive: 5 plays, 8 yards in 1:40.
FGOlindo Mare 36 Yd, 8:14. Drive: 9 plays, 57 yards in 4:10.
TDChris Chambers, 15 Yd pass from Gus Frerotte (Gus Frerotte 2 Pt. Conversion pass to Ronnie Brown failed), 2:59. Drive: 6 plays, 56 yards in 2:10.
TDBen Watson, 17 Yd pass from Tom Brady (Heath Evans Run for 2 Pt. Conversion), 2:16. Drive: 2 plays, 76 yards in 0:43.
Players of the Game

G. Frerotte
Att 47
Comp 25
Yds 360
TD 2
New England

T. Brady
Att 36
Comp 21
Yds 275
TD 2
New England
T. Brady21/3627522
H. Evans1784021
M. Cloud7807
T. Brady1-10-1
D. Branch582030
T. Dwight370059
B. Watson337217
T. Brown336016
C. Fauria223018
H. Evans318011
B. Johnson2906
G. Frerotte25/4736021
R. Brown1464016
R. Williams111305
M. Booker5102035
R. McMichael781027
C. Chambers669217
W. Welker261047
R. Brown428023
R. Williams119019
Complete Player Stats
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