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Sidelights to the game


* Worst snow placement: As game time approached, the seats behind the South end zone were completely covered with snow. Many seats were cleared, but a few remained blanketed during the game.

* Best choice of song for the public address system: "Let It Snow," which was played during the second quarter. At game time the windchill was 17 degrees.

* Worst penalty: An unnecessary roughness on Miami cornerback Sam Madison on second and 2 from the Miami 23-yard line. Three plays later, the Patriots scored the only points of the first half on Adam Vinatieri's 29-yard field goal.

* Best block: Miami right guard Todd Perry, who cleared a path for running back Ricky Williams to rush for 16 yards on third and 1 from the Miami 19-yard line.

* Worst headgear: Miami left guard Jamie Nails, whose helmet split open during a pileup on a running play.

* Worst time to be in the end zone: During the fourth quarter. First, the Patriots cheerleaders where pelted with snowballs from patrons during a dance routine. Then the Dolphins were hit while they began a drive from their 1-yard line.


* The Patriots have clinched a division title at home for the second time, first since 1978. That contest was similar to yesterday's -- the team defeated Buffalo, 26-24, at Schaefer Stadium in 28-degree weather (same starting time temperature yesterday) and intermittent snow.

* The Patriots are 5-0 in games at Foxborough when snow has been a factor.

* If the Patriots win one more game and Indianapolis loses one more game, New England would clinch a first-round bye. If the Patriots win two of their remaining games they will clinch a first-round bye. If they win all three remaining games they will clinch the top seed in the AFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.


"What I told the players, it's obvious the division title is over, but our ultimate goal [the playoffs] is still attainable. We just have to go about it a different way to get there. To have an opportunity to do that, we have to find a way to line up and beat Philadelphia."

-- Miami coach Dave Wannstedt about his team's next opponent.

"The weather had no part of it. We've had the same coaches for the past six years and so haven't they. So there are no surprises. It's about executing."

-- Miami right tackle Larry Chester.

"I'm tired of it. We have to stop losing critical games. We have to get things turned around."

-- Miami running back Rob Konrad.

"It was great, especially when they started throwing the snow around. Nobody noticed when it happened, then we got over to the sideline and everybody was watching. It was real crazy."

-- Patriots defensive lineman Jarvis Green about the fans.

"It's a great stress relief that this game is done. I knew, somehow, some way, I would be an important part of the game."

-- Patriots punter Brooks Barnard.


Patriots: RB Kevin Faulk, wind knocked out, did not return.

Dolphins: LB Morlon Greenwood, left quadriceps. LB Junior Seau, left middle finger. DE Jason Taylor, left shoulder. S Shawn Wooden, sprained left ankle. QB Jay Fiedler, aggravated left knee.

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Last game / Dec. 7 vs. Miami
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afc east standings
  W L T Pct. PF PA
Patriots 11 2 0 .846 20.7 16.1
Dolphins 8 5 0 .615 18.5 15.6
Bills 6 7 0 .462 16.5 15.4
Jets 5 8 0 .385 18.5 19.6
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