FOXBORO, Mass. — The Miami Dolphins’ home stadium has been a house of horrors for the New England Patriots for years, but that building also played host to one of the signatures victories of the early Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era.
In Week 7 of the 2003 season, the Patriots defeated the Dolphins 19-13 in overtime, snapping a streak of five consecutive losses in South Florida and setting off what Brady described Friday as a Super Bowl-level postgame celebration.
“I remember the bus ride leaving was pretty cool,” the quarterback said. “We were flipping people off. It was out of control. We hadn’t won there in so long. You would have thought we won five Super Bowls in a row. It was pretty fun.”
Brady, then a fourth-year pro with one measly Super Bowl ring in his trophy case, won the game with an 82-yard touchdown pass to Troy Brown after Dolphins kicker Olindo Mare had a potential game-winning field goal blocked in the final minutes of regulation and missed another early in the overtime period.
“That was pretty sweet,” Brady said. “It was a great game, great win. Troy was not the intended receiver on the play. It was kind of a toss play, and I was supposed to throw it to the backside slant, but I remember the coverage kind of rotated that way. Troy was running a slant on the other side and just kept running, and I saw him and just chucked it up there. He caught it, and we celebrated. It was just a great celebration.”
He added: “That was a pretty special day. There was a long history of us playing a lot of bad football games down there, and that kind of broke that a little bit. Not that it’s been stellar (since), but at least that one got us out of the basement.”
The Patriots went on to win their second Super Bowl title later that season and were victorious in six of their next nine visits to Pro Player/Dolphins/Dolphin/Land Shark/Sun Life/Hard Rock Stadium. The pendulum has shifted in recent years, however, with New England beating Miami on the road just once in the last five seasons.
The latest matchup in this decades-old AFC East rivalry will take place this Sunday afternoon. New England rolled to an easy victory in the teams’ first meeting this season, winning 38-7 at Gillette Stadium in Week 4.
“Miami’s the one that’s a little bit different for us always,” said Brady, who is 7-9 in his career in Miami. “I think just playing down there has its challenges. Every team has its challenges playing down there, and they play well at home. I think they use that (warm) climate as a benefit to them, just like we use ours as a benefit to us. …
“Playing a good football game is definitely what this week’s about for us. We can’t go out there and expect to play less than our best and win.
The Dolphins are 5-1 at home this season and 1-5 on the road.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images