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Belichick Gets Best of Saban

November 14, 2005|From Associated Press

MIAMI — Bill Belichick showed again how resourceful he can be. Not that Nick Saban expected anything less from his mentor.

With no running back, a Saban castoff at fullback and reserves at three other offensive positions, Belichick and the injury-riddled New England Patriots still beat Saban's Miami Dolphins, 23-16, on Sunday.

Tom Brady brought New England from behind twice in the second half, throwing for the winning score with 2:16 left. Gus Frerotte then drove the Dolphins 70 yards to the five-yard line with a minute remaining, but his fourth-down pass went off Chris Chambers' fingertips in the end zone with 36 seconds to go.

"This is one of those great games that went back and forth," Belichick said.

The game was the first between Belichick and protege Saban, a longtime friend.

Two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England (5-4) remained alone atop the AFC East. The Patriots have won 21 of their last 25 division games.

Miami (3-6) missed a chance to tie for the division lead, instead losing for the fifth time in six games.

Four offensive starters were inactive for the Patriots, and a fifth -- running back Corey Dillon -- was limited to two plays because his leg tightened.

Belichick turned ball-carrying duties over to fullback Heath Evans, who was signed after Saban released him Oct. 25. Evans carried 17 times for 84 yards, surpassing in one game his total for any of his previous four NFL seasons.

But it was Brady who bailed out the Patriots. He completed 21 of 36 passes for 275 yards with two touchdowns, both to backup tight end Benjamin Watson.

"As usual, Tom played his best football when it counted," Belichick said.

Brady's first scoring pass covered 16 yards and put New England ahead, 12-7, on the final play of the third quarter.

But Frerotte, who completed 25 of 47 for a season-high 360 yards, regained the lead for Miami with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Chambers.

New England needed only two plays to come back. First, Brady threw 59 yards to Tim Dwight, who outwrestled Reggie Howard for the ball. Then, Brady hit Watson with a 17-yard touchdown pass.

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