Brendan C. Hall

'We were flipping people off': Brady recalls famous OT win vs. Dolphins

'We were flipping people off': Brady recalls famous OT win vs. Dolphins

Fifteen years later, it remains one of the most pivotal turning points that defined the early years of the Brady-Belichick era in New England, an overtime win in a place that historically to that point the Patriots had some pretty hard luck.

And as New England's struggles in Miami in more recent years come to light this week with the Patriots get ready to take on the Dolphins down in South Florida, quarterback Tom Brady was asked Friday afternoon to reminisce about his first-ever win at Hard Rock Stadium, that legendary 2003 overtime win sealed by an 82-yard touchdown pass to Troy Brown, one that sent coach Bill Belichick into a rare emotional frenzy.

https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/patriots/brady-patriots-have-felt-heat-miami-december?int

"That was pretty sweet. It was a great game, great win," Brady said. "Troy was not the intended receiver on the play – it was kind of a toss play. I was supposed to throw it to the backside slant, but I remember the coverage kind of rotated that way and Troy was running a slant on the other side and just kept running and I saw him and just chucked it up there, he caught it and we celebrated."

Celebrate how, might you ask? 

"It was just a great celebration," he continued. "I remember the bus ride leaving was pretty cool. We were flipping people off and it was out of control. We hadn’t won there in so long, you thought we won five Super Bowls in a row. It was pretty fun."

That win, the Patriots' third in a row after starting the season 2-2, improved them to 5-2 and galvanized the team on the way to a 15-game win streak and second Super Bowl title in three seasons. 

To this day, it remains among the most emotionally-charged exclamations we've seen out of The Hooded One.

"Yeah, we all were," Brady said, when asked if he'd ever seen Belichick as happy as he was that day. "That was a pretty special day. There was a long history of us playing a lot of bad football games down there and that kind of broke that a little bit, not that it’s been stellar, but at least that one got us out of the basement."

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Patriots move back into AFC's No. 2 seed with Steelers loss

Patriots move back into AFC's No. 2 seed with Steelers loss

The Steelers' upset loss at Mile High early Sunday evening worked out to New England's favor, sliding the Patriots back into the No. 2 seed in the AFC.

At 8-3 the Patriots stand one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs, of whom they own the head-to-head matchup over, and a half-game over the Houston Texans, who play the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.

Of the Patriots, Steelers and Texans, Pittsburgh has the toughest schedule the rest of the way. Three of the Steelers' final five opponents have at least eight wins on the year (Chargers, Patriots, Saints), while the Patriots and Texans' final five opponents both have a combined record under .500.

Here's how the playoff picture looks after Sunday's games:

AFC SEEDS
1. Kansas City 9-2
2. New England 8-3
3. Houston 7-3
4. Pittsburgh 7-3-1
5. LA Chargers 8-3
6. Baltimore 6-5

IN THE HUNT
Indianapolis 6-5
Tennessee 5-5
Miami 5-6
Cincinnati 5-6
Denver 5-6

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Report: Markelle Fultz no longer in 76ers' long-term plans?

Report: Markelle Fultz no longer in 76ers' long-term plans?

If the latest report out of Philadelphia is to believeed, the long, strange saga of Markelle Fultz' tenure with the 76ers, and its sometimes bizarre turns, could be approaching an end -- or at least a deadline.

This long, comprehensive piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey chronicles all of the well-documented on and off-court struggles of the former No. 1 overall pick's tenure and looks at the road ahead, from the shoulder woes to the devolution of his shooting form to the conflicting health reports and questionable advice. Pompey reports that, just a year and a half after pegging him as a cornerstone of their future with the top pick, the Sixers might be ready to move on:

"Some sources have said that, despite the team's statements, Fultz is no longer in the Sixers' long-term plans. And they are no longer using his shoulder as an excuse for his performances."

As for moving on from him, Pompey isn't sure the Sixers would command much in return at this point:

"If the 76ers have tired of this saga and are considering trading Fultz, and multiple sources said they are, his trade value must have declined a great deal since the start of the season.

"The team might be able to get a late first-round pick for Fultz from a desperate club willing to take a chance, or the Sixers could try for a player with an expiriing contract. That would enable them to avoid paying the $9.7 million that Fultz is guaranteed for next season."

Any move involving Fultz has big implications for the rest of the Eastern Conference, and its perceived pecking order. Fultz, a former All-American at storied DeMatha Catholic (Md.) and the University of Washington, was universally considered the top player in the 2017 draft class; Celtics GM Danny Ainge famously used this leverage to trade out of the No. 1 slot, picking Jayson Tatum at No. 3 and getting a first-round pick from the 76ers in the process.

As the career trajectories of Tatum and Fultz continue to point in opposite directions, it only solidifies the trade as one of the all-time great lopsided deals in Boston's favor, recalling to the mind deals such as the famous 1980 deal with the Golden State Warriors that sent Robert Parish and a pick that became Kevin McHale to Boston in exchange for the rights to draft Joe Barry Carroll at No. 1 overall.

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