Patriots set NFL records during 28-7 win over Dolphins
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Records aren't important to the Patriots, not yet anyway.
Not finishing the season at 16-0. Not becoming the highest scoring team in NFL history. And not Tom Brady and Randy Moss setting individual marks.
All those are still within reach, but after becoming the first team to go 15-0 in the regular season with a 28-7 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, it will mean more if the Patriots have a higher number than the New York Giants on the scoreboard at the end of their game next Saturday night.
"When you look back at the end of your career, you'll be excited about individual records," Tom Brady said, "but winning's more important and I think that's really what everyone's concerned about."
Tom Brady threw three touchdown passes, two to Randy Moss, and the Patriots moved to the best start in league history. The old mark: Miami's 14-0 in 1972 when the season lasted just 14 games.
Today's disjointed Dolphins (1-14) couldn't protect the record of their dominant predecessors.
"We wanted to win for them," defensive end Jason Taylor said. "But I wanted to win today, for the guys in this room."
If the Patriots beat the Giants, then go unbeaten in the postseason to finish 19-0, they'll join the Dolphins as the only teams to post a perfect record from opening day until the clock in the championship game runs out.
At the same time, the Patriots need six points to break Minnesota's single-season record of 556 set in 1998.
Tom Brady is one shy of Peyton Manning's NFL record of 49 touchdown passes set in 2004 and tied with Dan Marino's production in 1984; Randy Moss needs one touchdown reception to tie Jerry Rice's mark of 22 set in 12 games in 1987, a strike year.
"Randy, everyone knows he's a great player whether he gets the record or not," Tom Brady said.
The Patriots tied their NFL record of 18 consecutive regular-season wins set in 2003-04. They also broke the league mark of 70 touchdowns in one season by the 1984 Dolphins, reaching 71 to go up 28-0.
"I never felt they were playing for the records," Miami coach Cam Cameron said. "They understand what's important."
Miami finally scored late in the third quarter on Cleo Lemon's 21-yard pass to Greg Camarillo. That was meaningless compared with their 67-yard hookup a week earlier that gave Miami a 22-16 overtime win over Baltimore. That touchdown unleashed jubilation in the Dolphin Stadium stands because there was no longer a chance these Dolphins would be the first team to finish 0-16.
Tom Brady finished 18-for-33 and threw two interceptions. Laurence Maroney had a career-high 156 yards on 14 carries
On Sunday, the Patriots were in charge from the start.
They led 28-0 at halftime, scoring on four of their first five possessions. Maroney had the Patriots' two longest gains of the season, 59 yards for a touchdown and 51 - the longest runs of his two NFL seasons - and Tom Brady threw a 48-yard scoring pass to Jabar Gaffney that safety Lance Schulters just missed on the left sideline.
"I don't really know how close he was to it," Gaffney said with a laugh. "I just know he missed it."
Welcome back to the NFL, Tuna.
Bill Parcells, hired as Miami's executive vice president of football operations on Thursday, saw how far the Dolphins were from being competitive. He also saw a Patriots team that's much better than the one he coached to the Super Bowl at the end of the 1996 season - a loss to Green Bay.
"I never want to go through this, not in a season, not in a career," Taylor said.
There was a championship feeling in the air even before the game began. Three Red Sox players - David Ortiz, Curt Schilling and Kevin Youkilis - along with owner John Henry drew a huge ovation when they paraded onto the field with the trophies from their World Series wins in 2004 and 2007.
Maroney had his second straight season-best output after spending most of the season as an afterthought to Tom Brady's passing. He gained 104 yards on 26 carries in a 20-10 win over the New York Jets.
His 51-yard run and a pass interference penalty in the end zone set up Tom Brady's 1-yard touchdown pass to Randy Moss, who had scored on an 11-yarder in the first quarter. Five minutes into the second quarter, Maroney was untouched after bursting through a huge hole in the line on his 59-yard touchdown.
"All I had to do was show some speed and make sure not to get caught," Maroney said.
Tom Brady was glad to see the second-year pro have the most productive game of his career.
"Sometimes people forget about him, but we certainly don't," Tom Brady said.
Now it's on to the Giants when the Patriots one-game-at-a-time approach can accomplish something that's never been done.
"Like I've said before," linebacker Tedy Bruschi said, " `Put me in coach. I want to play. I want to win.' And if what it means this week is being 16-0, yeah, I want it."
Notes: The Patriots swept their division for the first time ever, going 6-0 against Miami, Buffalo and the New York Jets. ... Taylor played in his 129th straight game, breaking the team record held by Hall of Fame center Jim Langer. ... The Patriots had their most balanced offense of the season, 204 yards passing and 196 rushing.
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