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Sports Then and Now



NFL Classic Rewind: Pats End Orange Bowl Jinx To Advance to First Super Bowl 36

Posted on September 08, 2011 by A.J. Foss

In 1985, the New England Patriots pulled off one of the most shocking runs to the Super Bowl as they won three straight road games in the postseason to win the AFC Championship.

The third and final road victory was a 31-14 win over the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game that not only clinched the Patriots their first Super Bowl berth, but was the first time the Patriots defeated the Dolphins in their home stadium, the Orange Bowl.

The 1985 season was the first full season for head coach Raymond Berry, who had taken the head coaching reins midway through the 1984 season after Ron Meyer was fired because of a rift between Meyer and the players.

The Patriots got off to a slow start in 1985 as they dropped three of their first five games for a 2-3 record.

But after Steve Grogan replaced starting quarterback Tony Eason who separated his shoulder in the sixth game, New England went on a six-game winning streak until Grogan broke his leg in an overtime loss to the New York Jets in the twelfth game of the season.

Eason once again became the starter and helped New England to wins in three of their last four games to finish the season with an 11-5 record and a Wild Card playoff berth. Read the rest of this entry →

Super Bowl XX: Not On This Given Sunday 2

Posted on January 26, 2010 by Phil Andrews
walter payton sweetness

The outcome of Super Bowl XX was never really in doubt as Walter Payton and the Bears dominated the Patriots.

Wow, has it really been 24 years?  Jan 26, 1986. Super Bowl XX, at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Tony Eason and the New England Patriots, against Jim McMahon and the Chicago Bears.

After watching the Super Bowl on TV as a kid, I couldn’t believe I was actually there to cover the big game in person. It was just my second year in television so I was still a little wet behind the ears.

At the time, I was working for Channel 9, WMUR TV in Manchester, N.H. and was in the Big Easy as part of the media contingent covering the Patriots.

That year the Pats were actually a surprise Super Bowl suitor given the teams they had the beat to get there.  After finishing the regular season with a record of 11-5 and in third place behind the Dolphins and Jets in the AFC East, New England’s ticket to New Orleans consisted of three wildcard road wins against  the Jets (26-14), Raiders (27-20) and Dolphins (31-14).

Ironically, Miami was the only team that season to beat the Bears, who arrived on Bourbon Street with a gaudy record of 18-1, following play-off wins over the Giants (21-0) and the Los Angeles Rams (24-0).

Yep, back to back play-off shutouts, but no surprise really when you consider at the time the Bears where in the record books as one of the best defenses ever in league history.

That year, the Bears, “46 Zone” defense, allowed the fewest points (198), total yards (4,135), and fewest  yards rushing (1,319). They also led the league with thirty-four interceptions. Read the rest of this entry →

Classic Rewind: 1985 AFC Playoffs – Patriots at Jets 3

Posted on September 16, 2009 by Joe Gill

Through out the NFL season, Sports Then and Now will pick one upcoming NFL matchup and look through the history books to find an intriguing past meeting between the two teams. We will recap the game and hopefully help reintroduce (or introduce for you younger readers) you to some of the greats (and in some cases not so greats) from the history of professional football.

The Matchup: New England Patriots vs. New York Jets

Playoff Head to Head Record: First Meeting

The Game: December 28, 1985 at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

Regular Season Team Records: New England Patriots (11-5), New York Jets (11-5)

Overview: The Patriots and Jets both earned wild card berths in the log jam that was the AFC East. The Miami Dolphins with a 12-4 record edged out New York and New England by one win for the division crown.

The teams split two close contests during the regular season. The Patriots edged the Jets in Foxboro 20-13 on October 20th pushing their record to 4-3. They would go 7-2 the rest of the regular season.

The Jets handed them one of those defeats, 16-13 on November 24th. This would be the rubber match between the two AFC East rivals.

Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Earl Morrall: The Perfect Backup
      November 16, 2019 | 10:46 am
      Earl Morrall

      In a career that started in 1956 and ended in 1976, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was never really a leading man, but he seemed to be part of the supporting cast for many huge moments in NFL history.

      The second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft out of Michigan State, Earl Morrall joined a San Francisco 49ers team that already included the famous “Million Dollar Backfield” of Y.A. Tittle, Hugh McElhenny, Joe Perry and John Henry Johnson.

      Morrall started four games during his rookie season, but just before the start of the 1957 season was traded along with guard Mike Sandusky to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for linebacker Marv Matuszak and two first-round draft picks.

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