Tuna Bowl reviews
With much fanfare, the Patriots have faced Bill Parcells six times (going 2-4) since he departed New England after the 1996 season, all with Pete Carroll as head coach. After those showdowns with Parcells's Jets, the Patriots and Bill Belichick meet up with Tuna and the Cowboys for the first time Sunday night in Foxborough.
Sept. 14, 1997 at Foxborough; Patriots 27, Jets 24 (OT)
The game: Drew Bledsoe has a rough night against the man who drafted him first overall four years earlier, hitting on just 16 of 34 passes for 162 yards and "three" touchdowns -- two for the Patriots, and one for the Jets when linebacker Mo Lewis returns an interception 43 yards, one of two New York picks. But the Patriots ride the back of Curtis Martin (199 yards on 40 carries) and the foot of Adam Vinatieri (two field goals, including the 34-yard winner). The Jets have a chance to win it with 20 seconds left in regulation, but Patriots linebacker Mike Jones blocks John Hall's field goal attempt. Parcells says: "I'll say what I said before the game: I know a lot of the kids over there and I think a lot of them. I think everyone understands this kind of competition. Any game that ends like this is tough."
Oct. 19, 1997 at East Rutherford, N.J.; Jets 24, Patriots 19
The game: The Patriots hold a halftime lead of 5-3 (24-yard Vinatieri field goal; safety on Henry Thomas's sack of Neil O'Donnell) when Parcells yanks his QB and inserts Glenn Foley. The former BC star is impressive, completing 14 straight passes at one point en route to a 17-for-23, 200-yard performance that leads to 21 second-half points. A last-chance drive by the Patriots ends when officials rule a fourth-and-18 pass to Shawn Jefferson is trapped. Parcells says: "I just went in to Neil O'Donnell and said, `I'm making a change.' I just thought we needed a spark today. You gotta do something. You can't just live with it until Monday and make a decision in your office."
Oct. 19, 1998 at Foxborough; Jets 24, Patriots 14
The game: This time Martin (107 yards on 28 carries) is wearing green, and both he and Parcells are wearing big smiles after walking away with an impressive victory before a Monday night TV audience. The Jets again come back from a halftime deficit (14-10), this time on the strength of two fourth-quarter touchdown passes by Vinny Testaverde. Parcells says: "It's nice to win anywhere, but to beat the division leaders on the road is a good feeling. But I have a warm feeling for this place. I mean that."
Dec. 27, 1998 at East Rutherford, N.J.; Jets 31, Patriots 10
The game: With Scott Zolak starting for injured Bledsoe (fractured finger), the Patriots come out flat and cost themselves a home playoff game (they finish 9-7 and lose their first-round matchup at Jacksonville the following week). Testaverde has a modest (17 for 27, 179 yards) but productive (four TD passes) day for the Jets, who are also playoff bound (they beat Jacksonville and then lose the AFC title game in Denver). Zolak completes just 14 of 31 passes for 127 yards. Parcells says: "That was a tough game for the Patriots today. But that's a good team, and we might see them again."
Sept. 12, 1999 at East Rutherford, N.J.; Patriots 30, Jets 28
The game: What better way to open the season than with a win over Tuna that comes on a 23-yard field goal by Vinatieri with three seconds left thatquickly silences the sellout crowd's "Jets, Jets, Jets" chant? Bledsoe has his best day against his former coach, completing 21 of 30 passes for 340 yards and one touchdown, while Willie McGinest (two sacks, fumble recovery for a TD) and Terry Glenn (seven catches, 113 yards) also show off for their former -- and in the case of Glenn, future -- boss. Testaverde suffers a season-ending Achilles' tendon injury in the second quarter, leaving the Jets' QB duties in the hands of Tom Tupa and Rick Mirer. Bryan Cox's interception return for a touchdown with 9:34 left gives New York a 28-27 lead to set up the late drama.Parcells says: "They played very well today. They took advantage of our mistakes. I pretty much
anticipated it would be a tough game like this. I expect those to continue."
Nov. 15, 1999 at Foxborough; Jets 24, Patriots 17
The game: Another Monday night matchup turns into the start of a nightmare second half for the Patriots, who come in 6-2 after the bye week and can thank the Jets for getting them started on a 2-6 finish. The Jets are buoyed by former Patriots Martin (149 yards on 31 carries) and Ray Lucas (18 of 31, 153 yards, two touchdowns), and the defensive schemes of Al Groh and Bill Belichick again trouble Bledsoe, who is picked off three times and goes 1 for 9 in the Patriots' final three possessions. Parcells says: "People keep trying to say this is special. It's not. It's just another win."
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