15-Year Phiniversary: Dolphins Blank Brady and Patriots, 21-0

by Mike Ferguson

Photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins

Quarterback Tom Brady is widely regarded as the greatest of all-time. Brady has won seven Super Bowls and been named the game’s MVP five times.

For his career, Brady has started more than 300 regular-season games. Only twice has his team ever been shut out.

The most recent occasion came on this day 15 years ago and at the hand of the Miami Dolphins. A dominant defensive effort led Miami in a 21-0 shutout of the New England Patriots.

Setting the Stage

New England was 9-3 and on the verge of running away with the AFC East as it arrived at Dolphin Stadium on Dec. 10, 2006. The Patriots had won three straight games and were looking to complete the season sweep of the Dolphins.

Miami was just 5-7, but had been playing good football. After a 1-6 start, the Dolphins had won four of five. That included wins over good teams like the Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs.

The Contest

Throughout the day, the story was the Miami defense. The Dolphins held New England to just 189 total yards. Brady had one of the worst days of his career, going 12-for-25 passing for just 78 yards.

Matt Roth recorded 1.5 of Miami’s five sacks. The Dolphins were unable to intercept Brady, but they did force three turnovers. That included a fumble from Brady himself.

Through a half however, Miami had managed just two field goals by Olindo Mare. Less than three minutes remained in the third quarter when the Dolphins finally found the end zone on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Joey Harrington to Marty Booker.

Down 13-0, the Patriots appeared to have gotten back in the game on a flea flicker as Brady found Daniel Graham for a 33-yard touchdown. Officials however, ruled that the lateral to Brady from running back Kevin Faulk was forward and the play was called back by penalty.

Three plays later, Yeremiah Bell stripped Brady and recovered. On the ensuing possession, Miami rode running back Sammy Morris on a 61-yard touchdown drive. Morris capped the march with a 3-yard touchdown run. That was followed by a successful 2-point conversion pass from Harrington to Booker.

Brady would ultimately be pulled for Matt Cassell. Cassell was able to march the Patriots inside the Dolphins’ 40-yard-line before being stripped by Jason Taylor. Miami recovered and ran out the clock to preserve the shutout.

The Dolphins finished with 315 yards of offense and avoided turning the ball over. Morris led all rushers with 125 yards on 23 carries.

In Hindsight

New England would ultimately circle the wagons and close the regular season on a 3-game winning streak to finish 12-4. The Patriots beat the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers in the playoffs before letting an 18-point lead slip away against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship.

The win brought Miami to 6-7, but it would close the season and Nick Saban’s tenure as head coach on a 3-game losing streak to finish 6-10. Still, the 21-0 shutout remains the last time that any team has kept Brady off the scoreboard. It happened on this day 15 years ago.

References

Pro Football Reference
ESPN

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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