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Patriots 26, Dolphins 23

November 24, 1998

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) _ The Hartford-bound Patriots have a few more years left in Foxboro and, surprisingly, at least a few more games in the NFL playoff race.

Drew Bledsoe, shaking off a sore hand, upstaged Dan Marino’ late-game heroics with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Shawn Jefferson with 29 seconds left, giving New England a 26-23 win over theMiami Dolphins.

The crowd, supportive despite the prospect of being abandoned in 2001, went wild.

New England (6-5) won for just the second time in six games. Miami (7-4), lost for the second time in six games and fell into a three-way tie for the AFC East lead with Buffalo and the New York Jets.

The winning touchdown capped a 15-play, 80-yard drive in which Bledsoe hurt his hand when he hit a Miami helmet midway through the march. But he continued to throw and eventually found Jefferson in the end zone. He also converted two fourth and 10s during the drive.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had scored on a 4-yard run with 3:22 left, giving Miami a 23-19 lead. Marino, who holds the NFL record with 44 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime, sparked the comeback with a 24-yard completion to Stanley Pritchett that put the ball at the 4.

Yet the Patriots ended a distracting four days with a dramatic finish. The stretch began with last Thursday’s tentative agreement to move the team from its bare-bones suburban stadium to Connecticut’s capital city.

The crowd cheered the Patriots and some fans helds signs. ``If you build it, we won’t come,″ one said. ``It’s not too late to save the Patriots. Call your representative,″ said another.

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