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Patriots Get First Victory

Interconference: Bledsoe completes 21 of 35 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns in 31-0 triumph over Cardinals.

September 16, 1996|From Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. — Drew Bledsoe found his receivers, and Curtis Martin found the end zone three times. The Arizona Cardinals, meanwhile, are still looking for an offense and a defense.

The New England Patriots dominated the battle of winless teams, emerging with a 31-0 victory and a 1-2 record Sunday. Bledsoe, who had been ineffective in his previous two games, completed 21 of 35 passes for 221 yards, including touchdown passes of 13 and seven yards to Martin and two yards to Ben Coates.

"It shows that I'm going to do what I can to try to win," Bledsoe said. "My confidence really has been there all along. We know we have the talent, but when you go 0-2, you wonder what's going on."

His dive for a first down came two plays before Coates' touchdown.

"I kind of felt if I went low [the Cardinals] were going to send me to the hospital, so I went over the top," Bledsoe said.

Martin's one-yard run gave the Patriots a 14-0 lead with 9:29 left in the second quarter.

By halftime, the Patriots had a 20-0 lead and more first downs (18) than Arizona had plays (15). Cardinal quarterback Boomer Esiason was benched for the second consecutive game.

The last time the teams met, in 1993, Bill Parcells got his first victory as coach of the Patriots.

Esiason, in his first year with Arizona after 12 with the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Jets, completed four of 12 passes for 12 yards before being replaced by Graham with 8:59 to play in the third quarter.

The Cardinals were coming off a 38-10 loss to Miami in which they trailed, 24-0, at halftime.

"We felt we could have won today, that this was a game we should win," Arizona offensive tackle Lomas Brown said. "Then, with the way we lost. . . . We need a win so bad next week."

That could happen. The Cardinals play the New Orleans Saints.

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