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Blocking out history

Team seeks fresh start in Miami

FOXBOROUGH -- They know the history.

Too well.

That a Patriots team hasn't won in Miami in September or October. Ever. Since the teams started playing each other in '66. New England is 0-13 in those months in the heat of South Florida, with a 14-point average margin of defeat. Now that's a curse.

"Thanks," coach Bill Belichick said yesterday when reminded of the franchise's fall futility in Miami.

But the Patriots are more concerned with recent history. The last two games have followed the same pattern: Dolphins take an early lead, take Patriots out of their game, Patriots take it on the chin. In 2000, they lost, 10-3. Two years ago it was 30-10 and last year, 26-13.

"I've been here three years and a lot of our players, some of them haven't even been here that long," Belichick said. "So I really don't think it's that important to our players. Who won when New England played in Miami in 1972? [Miami, 52-0] What difference does it make? What's important to us is the games that we've played there in recent years, specifically last year, and how we need to play this year. What happened 10 years ago, some of these guys were in junior high school."

"We all accept what happened and I'm not trying to change it," Belichick said. "They won them and they're entitled to those Ws, but I don't know how much any of those games will really factor at all into what is going to happen Sunday either way."

Said linebacker Roman Phifer, "We try to block that out. It's a new season, a new year. Hopefully, we're a different team, we'll have a different mind-set going down there. These last couple of games have given us some confidence and if we can be consistent, it won't be a problem."

Cherry ailing

On the injury front, special teamer Je'Rod Cherry sprained his left knee during Sunday's 17-6 victory over the Giants and was wearing a brace in the locker room yesterday. Tedy Bruschi left the game briefly after it appeared he hurt his left leg, but he wore no apparatus yesterday. Richard Seymour left the game late and did not return but said afterward it was merely cramps. "It looks like a couple of the guys that left the game are going to be OK," Belichick said. This may be the healthiest the Patriots have come out of a game this season . . . Belichick had high praise for Tyrone Poole and Seymour, two of the key performers in Sunday's win. On Seymour: "Richard has had a pretty consistent year. I would say that he is one of our more consistent players." As for Poole, "Tyrone has gotten off to a real good start this year. He's made a lot of big plays for us, and he's been probably as consistent as anybody that we've had on defense. Maybe as consistent as anybody we've had on the team for that matter."

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