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THE NFL / 1996

Patriot Arsenal Too Potent for Dolphins

AFC: Bledsoe and Martin provide spark and Coates makes key plays in 42-23 rout of Miami.

November 04, 1996|From Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. — Drew Bledsoe has a new group of dangerous receivers. Fortunately for the Patriots, he still has Ben Coates.

Coates caught a 23-yard touchdown pass, then stormed down the sidelines to complete an 84-yard pass play as New England routed the Miami Dolphins, 42-23, on Sunday.

"We have as many weapons as probably anybody in the league right now," Bledsoe said. "Any time you can get the ball to Ben Coates in the flat and have him run with the football, that's a good situation."

Coates' second touchdown with 7:30 left in the game gave New England a 28-17 lead and started a surge of three touchdowns in five minutes for the Patriots, who trailed, 14-7, going into the final minute of the first half.

The touchdown on which Coates ran the final 80 yards "hurt, but there were a lot of plays that hurt in this game," Miami cornerback Terrell Buckley said. "I looked up and, suddenly, I was chasing him down field."

Coates, the Patriots' leading receiver the past three years, was one of nine players who caught Bledsoe passes Sunday. Rookie Terry Glenn led the team with 10 for 112 yards.

Bledsoe completed 30 of 41 passes for 419 yards and three touchdowns one week after going 32 for 45 for 373 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-25 victory over Buffalo.

"It's not like before with this team," Dolphin free safety Shawn Wooden said. "Coates is an outstanding player, but right now they have a ton of weapons."

The Patriots' sixth victory in seven games left them tied with Buffalo for the AFC East lead at 6-3. The Dolphins' playoff chances suffered a setback as they fell to 4-5 with their fifth loss in six games.

The Dolphins managed only a field goal from four Patriot turnovers. They also couldn't stop the Patriots from going 65 yards in the final 1:03 of the first half to one of Curtis Martin's three touchdowns.

And Coates' big play--the fourth-longest pass play in Patriot history--came after Miami backed the Patriots up at their two-yard line on a punt.

"At the two-yard line, there should have been a sense of urgency on our part," Miami defensive end Daniel Stubbs said, "but it's been the same thing over and over again for us this year. We keep getting hurt by the big play."

Karim Abdul-Jabbar gained 104 yards and scored twice on 29 carries, the second time this season he has rushed for more than 100 against the Patriots. But his questionable fumble led to the go-ahead 23-yard pass play to Coates.

Abdul-Jabbar appeared to be down before the ball came loose and Ted Johnson recovered at the Patriot 28-yard line. Four plays later, Bledsoe found Coates in the end zone for a 21-17 lead the Patriots never lost.

"It came at a crucial time," said Miami Coach Jimmy Johnson. "We had a chance to take control of the game."

Martin scored on runs of one, one and two yards and also had a 41-yard gain on a screen pass before Coates' first touchdown.

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