Its been a while since we did a Box Score Bank here at Standing Room Only, so lets do a Box Score Bank. And since I already wrote too many words on the Celtics today, lets make this one about the Patriots.
With the Pats heading down to Miami this Sunday, I cant help but think back to some of old duels between Drew Bledsoe and Dan Marino. And in that case, it doesnt get any better than the very first one.
Bledsoes rookie year actually coincided with Marinos ACL injury (and the emergence of Scott Mitchell), so they never met in 1993. But the pair made up for lost time in Week 1 of the following season. So lets crank the bank back to . . .
September 4, 1994
Forrest Gump was the No. 1 movie in America. "Ill Make Love To You" by Boyz II Men was in the second of 14 weeks atop the Billboard charts. Tom Brady had just started his senior year at Junipero Serra High School. Bill Belichick had just started his first and only winning season as coach of the Cleveland Browns. Ryan Tannehill had just started to learn how to tie his sneakers (he was six years old) . . .
And down in Miami, Marino and Bledsoe were going head-to-head in a duel for the ages. In fact, according to NFL Network, it was the No. 8 QB duel of all-time.
FINAL SCORE: Dolphins 38, Patriots 34
(Keep an eye out for the sharp cookie at the 1:00 mark of this video.)
In all, Marino and Bledsoe combined for 894 yards, nine touchdowns and only three interceptions. On the receiving end, Ben Coates led the Pats with eight catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns, while Irving Fryar (in his second year with Miami after nine in New England) had five catches for 211 yards and three touchdowns. Not to be outdone, Marion Butts picked up 25 yards on 15 carries.
Despite the brutal loss, the game was a sign that Bill Parcell's team was finally ready to compete at a legitimate NFL level. And after a rough start, the Pats closed the regular season on a seven-game win streak to make the playoffs for the first time since 1986. However, once there, they dropped a close Wild Card contest to Cleveland, in what was the first and only playoff victory of Bill Belichick's Browns career.
As for Marino and the Dolphins, they won the AFC East with a 10-6 record, but as usual, came up short in the playoffs. Falling to San Diego 23-22 in the divisional round.
Bledsoe and Marino would go on to play 10 more times over the course of their careers, and split them right down the middle (5-5). But none of those games could hold a candle to the first one.