Patriots winning streak
New England 38, Tennessee 30
With 4:40 left, Titans QB Steve McNair bulled into the end zone from 1 yard to put the Titans ahead, 25-24. McNair then threw to rookie Tyrone Calico for the 2-point conversion and a 3-point lead. But Patriots rookie Bethel Johnson returned the kickoff 71 yards, and three plays later, Mike Cloud ran up the middle for the decisive TD with 3:14 left. Ty Law, playing with a sprained ankle, clinched the game with a 65-yard interception return for a TD.
New England 17, NY Giants 6
The Patriots had only one first down in the first half (outgained, 199-29), but led, 7-3, at the break after Matt Chatham returned a fumble 38 yards for a touchdown. The Patriots' defense took over in the second half, and the offense was effective, as Tom Brady went 7 of 11 for 105 yards.
New England 19, at Miami 13 (OT)
The win was the Patriots' first in the last six visits to Miami and ended an 0-for-13 skid in Miami in September and October. After a controversial coin toss to begin overtime (the Patriots believed they won it), the Dolphins had a chance to win, but Olindo Mare missed a 35-yard attempt with 12:01 left. New England capitalized on its next play from scrimmage as Tom Brady (24 of 34, 283 yards, 2 touchdowns) hit Troy Brown with an 82-yard scoring strike. Brady had thrown a 24-yard touchdown pass to David Givens to tie the game at 13 in the third quarter.
New England 9, Cleveland 3
The Patriots needed only Adam Vinatieri's foot and their defense. The defense held the Browns to 203 yards and sealed the win when Ty Law intercepted Browns QB Kelly Holcomb at the New England 25 with 51 seconds left. The Browns reached Patriots territory only once. Vinatieri kicked a 27-yard field goal to cap the Patriots' first drive, then hit a 28-yarder in the third quarter and added a 38-yarder with 2:05 left. Kevin Faulk rushed for a career-high 96 yards on 23 carries and Mike Vrabel led the defense with three sacks.
New England 30, at Denver 26
With the Patriots trailing, 24-23, and facing fourth down from their 1 with 2:49 left, coach Bill Belichick decided to take a safety and ordered Lonie Paxton to snap the ball over punter Ken Walter's head. Walter's free kick sent the Broncos, now leading, 26-23, back to their 15 and the New England defense stiffened. Tom Brady (20 for 35, 350 yards) drove the Patriots downfield with completions of 5, 19, and 16 yards to Faulk before hitting David Givens with an 18-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left.
New England 12, Dallas 0
In the Bill Belichick-Bill Parcells showdown, the Patriots won the defensive battle as they recorded their first shutout in 130 games and had three interceptions in the second half. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal in the first quarter to put the Patriots ahead, 3-0, and that would hold up. Antowain Smith scored on a 2-yard run with 2:34 left in the second quarter, and Vinatieri finished it off with a 26-yard field goal with 1:56 remaining. Cowboys receiver Terry Glenn, who played six seasons for the Patriots, was held to one catch for 8 yards.
New England 23, at Houston 20 (OT)
The Patriots recorded their second overtime win on a 28-yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri with 41 seconds left. The scrappy Texans, who had blocked a 37-yard Vinatieri attempt earlier in OT, gave New England all it could handle as Tom Brady threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. Vinatieri also missed a 38-yard field goal just before halftime. Brady threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Daniel Graham and Vinatieri hit the PAT to send the game into overtime. Kevin Faulk had eight catches for 108 yards and 80 yards rushing.
New England 38, at Indianapolis 34
Willie McGinest's goal-line play secured this win. With 14 seconds left and the Colts facing fourth and goal on the 1, McGinest charged around the right side of the offensive line and caught Edgerrin James in the backfield. The Colts couldn't convert on four cracks from the 1. After ending the first half with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the longest by a Patriot since 1999, Bethel Johnson broke free again in the fourth quarter, going 67 yards to the 31 to set up Tom Brady's 13-yard pass to Deion Branch with 8:36 left that gave New England a 38-31 lead.
New England 12, Miami 0
With the field covered in snow, the Patriots found their footing and captured the AFC East title. Leading, 3-0, New England took the wind out of Miami's sails when Tedy Bruschi returned an interception 4 yards for a touchdown that increased the Patriots' lead to 10 with 8:55 left. Bruschi's touchdown was the fourth of his career and helped preserve the team's second shutout in four weeks. The Dolphins were outgained, 228-134, and star running back Ricky Williams finished with only 68 yards on 25 carries. The Patriots won their fourth straight home game without allowing a touchdown.
New England 27, Jacksonville 13
The Patriots' defense gave up its first touchdown at home in five games, tying the 1938 four-game streak of the New York Giants. Jacksonville's touchdown came with 3:22 left when Byron Leftwich threw a 27-yard scoring pass to Kevin Johnson. It was the second week in a row a Florida team faced the Patriots at Foxborough in the snow. Tyrone Poole made two fourth-quarter interceptions that led to touchdowns by Troy Brown (a 10-yard pass from Tom Brady) and Antowain Smith (1-yard run). Brady completed 22 of 34 passes (12 of his first 13) for 228 yards.
New England 21, at NY Jets 16
The Patriots picked off Jets QB Chad Pennington five times, including an interception returned for a score by Willie McGinest. New England got on the board just eight seconds into the game when Tom Brady threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to David Givens. The Jets tied it up on a 16-play drive that ended with a 1-yard Pennington run. Brady made it 21-10 when he threw his second TD pass to Givens (5 yards) in the third quarter. The Jets attempted to answer but Pennington -- looking for Santana Moss in the end zone -- was picked off by Ty Law.
New England 31, Bills 0
Tom Brady had his best start in an NFL game, throwing three TDs in the first 15:45 for a 21-0 lead as the Patriots gained some quality revenge for their opening-game, 31-0 loss to the Bills. Brady threw four TD passes to four receivers in the first half -- after throwing four interceptions in the loss to Buffalo -- and New England rolled into the playoffs with a franchise-best 14-2 record. Brady's early TD passes covered 1 yard to Daniel Graham, 9 yards to Bethel Johnson, and 15 yards to Troy Brown. The fourth TD pass, a 10-yarder to David Givens, made it 28-0 with 3:55 left in the half and came after Brady hobbled off the field after being hit in the left knee by Lawyer Milloy. Drew Bledsoe completed just 12 of 29 passes for 83 yards with 1 interception for the Bills. Bledsoe, who was sacked three times, was on the bench for the fourth quarter. The Patriots' defense posted its third shutout in the last four home games.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.
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NOTES: A carrying case for MVP
Last game / Dec. 27 vs. Bills
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