FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- Bill Belichick let a rare smile crease his
face before reminding his New England Patriots what their record
winning streak meant.
"He said, `Congratulations on the streak, great job. Now we've
got to think about Seattle,' " safety Rodney Harrison said.
At least their dour coach, who downplayed the streak all season,
gave the Patriots some time to savor their NFL record 19th straight
win, 24-10 over the winless Miami Dolphins on Sunday, before they
start preparing for their next game against the Seahawks.
"It doesn't mean anything right now because we are still in the
middle of the season," cornerback Ty Law said in a very quiet
locker room. "The fruit will taste a little bit sweeter if we can
give ourselves an opportunity to play for another championship."
The Patriots (4-0) won with two touchdown passes by Tom Brady,
who had his worst statistical start as a pro, and two turnovers by
offensively inept Miami.
The Dolphins trailed 24-10 before reaching the New England
1-yard line on their last series. But quarterback Jay Fiedler hurt
his ribs and back on a 12-yard sack and, two plays later, A.J.
Feeley suffered a concussion as he threw a fourth-down incompletion
and was hit by Rosevelt Colvin.
This Miami team is nothing like the one that no longer shares
the record with five other teams. That one went 17-0 in 1972 and
won its opener in 1973.
"As a player, you don't think about what (the Patriots) are
doing," Miami defensive end Jason Taylor said. "We've got our own
things to worry about."
The Dolphins fell to 0-5, matching their worst start as an
expansion team in 1966, when they won their sixth game.
New England, which can match its franchise best 5-0 start next
Sunday, had shared the 18-game record with Chicago in 1933-34 and
again in 1941-42; Miami in 1972-73; San Francisco in 1989-90; and
Denver in 1997-98.
"They're some great teams and it's nice to be a part of that,"
linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, but "during the season the only
milestone that teams want is the Super Bowl. "
The Dolphins' problems began before the game when placekicker
Olindo Mare left the field on a cart with an injured right calf.
They continued until the end when Fiedler and Feeley were hurt.
"We felt good about moving the ball," said Fiedler, who had
X-rays and didn't know if he would play next week, "but you look
on the scoreboard and you only see 10 points."
Miami added to its NFL-high 14 turnovers and scored just one
touchdown to add to its total of two in the first four games. Only
its defense, strong all year, kept the game somewhat competitive.
The Patriots played without injured receivers Deion Branch and
Troy Brown, and another one, Bethel Johnson, was inactive. But they
led 10-0 on Brady's 1-yard pass to Daniel Graham in the first
quarter and Adam Vinatieri's 40-yard field goal early in the
Still, Brady finished at 7-for-19 for 76 yards and an
"We didn't do the things we set out to do," tackle Matt Light
said of the offense. "Defense helped us out a lot."
Miami cut that to 10-7 when Fielder threw a 10-yard pass to
Then a strange play -- punter Matt Turk's failed run for a first
down -- gave the Patriots the ball at the Dolphins 46. Six plays
later, Brady hit David Givens for a 5-yard score 36 seconds before
"He said the snap was a little bit high, but you need to kick
the ball," coach Dave Wannstedt said of Turk. "I don't think
anyone was rushing him."
Fiedler's fumble on the first series of the third quarter led to
Rabih Abdullah's 1-yard touchdown run, making it 24-7.
Rookie kick returner Wes Welker, Mare's replacement who missed
his only extra-point kick in college, added a 29-yard field goal
that made it 24-10 late in the quarter.
"I played soccer since I was about 4, so that really helped a
lot," Welker said.
Miami needed Mare when, with a fourth-and-11 at the New England
21, the Dolphins had to go for a first down and Fiedler threw an
incompletion in the end zone with 10:01 left.
If the Patriots beat Seattle, they'll tie the mark of 17
consecutive regular-season wins by the Bears in 1933-34. And if
they beat the New York Jets the following Sunday, they'll break
that record, too.
But the players weren't thinking about that -- not when Belichick
actually acknowledged the 19-game record by shaking their hands on
"He rarely celebrates anything," Harrison said, "and to lead
a team to 19 victories in a row is something to be proud of."
^Notes:@ Commissioner Paul Tagliabue issued a statement saying,
"The Patriots' achievement is not only unprecedented but also
remarkable when you consider how competitive our league is today.
Congratulations to the entire Patriots organization on this
extraordinary milestone." ... The Dolphins outgained the Patriots
295 yards to 204.
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