The 2003-2004 season was a memorable one for the New England Patriots. They opened that season with a 38-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills and looked like a dead team walking. But then they ripped off a 14-2 record and won the Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers.
In honor of the match up with the Dolphins tonight at Gillette, we'll take a look back at a late-season game that took place at Gillette with these two teams. A snowy, low-scoring affair that the Patriots wound up winning, 12-0.
New England came into the contest at 10-2 and had a firm grasp on the AFC East. The Dolphins were 8-4 and were looking for some revenge after their hearts were broken by New England a few months prior. The Patriots had beaten the Dolphins 19-13 in overtime at Pro Player Stadium in Miami on a Tom Brady bomb to Troy Brown.
More than 30 inches had fallen in Foxborough and the New England area over the previous 48 hours leading up to this game, so Gillette was blanketed and crews couldn't work fast enough to get everything removed in time for the game. This made for a great scene later on, but we'll get to that.
New England scored on their final drive of the first quarter, as Adam Vinatieri connected on a 29-yard field goal to make it 3-0. There would not be anymore scoring until the fourth quarter, which produced an iconic moment in Patriots history. With the Dolphins backed up at their five-yard line, Tedy Bruschi intercepted Jay Fiedler and scored a touchdown.
After the play, Bruschi went up to a large pile of snow and started throwing it in the air in celebration, and the fans followed suit.
Skip to about 1:23 and you'll see a quick clip of the touchdown.
That interception was one of Fiedler's two on the day. The other came from Ty Law.
The Patriots scored their final two points of the game on a safety. Mike Vrabel and Jarvis Green teamed up to tackle Fiedler in the end zone with a little over a minute left, effectively sealing the game for New England.
The win put them at 11-2 and actually vaulted them past the Kansas City Chiefs for the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. The Chiefs were also 11-2 at the time, but the Patriots had a better conference record.
Due to the low score, the offense wasn't really all that effective. Brady was just 16/31 for 163 yards. He was sacked three times and had a QBR of 67. Fielder was even worse, going 13/31 for 111 yards, two interceptions and was sacked five times.
These were truly the glory days in terms of dominant Patriots defenses. While last year's defense was great in it's own right, the defenses of 2003-2005 are regarded as the best Patriots defenses ever. The 2003-2004 team allowed 14.9 points per game, first in the NFL and were near the top against the run and the pass.
This year's defense obviously isn't as good, but it has the pieces to turn into a scary unit.
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