September 28, 2016

50th Anniversary Minute – the 1994 Patriots

by Brendon Rosenau, Patriots Daily Staff

If 1993 was the preface in New England’s rise to glory, then 1994 was the Chapter One. Bob Kraft was the new owner and the pieces were in place for a special happening in New England. In 1994 the Patriots returned to a place that seemed light years away a year ago. After eight long, arduous, and trying years, the Pats were finally returned to the playoffs.

BenCoates1994 was a heck of a year for many Pats fans. It was Drew Bledsoe’s second year in the league and head coach Bill Parcells made no bones that this would be a team that relied heavily on the passing game. Bledsoe dropped back and let the pigskin fly a NFL record 691 times and became just the second quarterback to complete 400 passes. Drew’s favorite target was All Pro tight end Ben Coates (96 catches), but he wasn’t afraid to spread the ball around. Five different Patriots caught at least 50 balls. Included in that total were Coates, wide receivers Michael Timpson (74) and Vincent Brisby (58), running back Leroy Thompson (65) and fullback Kevin Turner (52).

At the outset, the Pats didn’t keep the momentum they gained at the end of ‘93. New England stumbled out of the game and they were 3-6 more than halfway through the season. Then Parcells took the leash off his signal caller.

In one of the my personal favorite games of all-time, Bledsoe threw the ball 70 times as the Patriots stormed back from a 20-3 deficit to stun the Warren Moon led Minnesota Vikings 26-20 in OT. Bledsoe completed 45 passes for 426 yards, 3TD and 0 picks in a game that ignited a seven-game win streak.

The next week the Pats got 88 rushing yard from Marion Butts (remember him?) in a 23-17 win over eventual AFC Conference winners San Diego. New England would then end the season by smoking Buffalo, a team that played in the last four Super Bowls and taking a hard fought 13-3 win over playoff bound Chicago that helped them clinch the AFC East.

New England’s streak and season would end the next week when they lost to the Bill Belichick led Cleveland Browns. Playing in his first playoff game, Bledsoe completed just 21-50 passes and threw three picks. While the Pats lost 20-13, it was a remarkable season.

What are your memories of that year?

Leaders

  • Drew Bledsoe 400 (1st NFL)-691 (1st, NFL record), 4555 (1st), 25 (4th)-27 (1st)
  • Marion Butts 243 carries 703 yards, 8 TD(T-6)
  • Leroy Thompson 65 receptions, 465 yards , 5TD
  • Kevin Turner 52 receptions, 471 yards, 2 TD
  • Michael Timpson 74 receptions, 941yards, 3TD
  • Ben Coates 96 receptions (4th), 1174 yards (T-10th), 7TD
  • Vincent Brisby 58receptions, 904 yards, 5 TD
  • Chris Slade 9.5 sacks
  • Maurice Hurst 7 INT (T-4th)
  • Vincent Brown 118 tackles

Pro Bowl
Bledsoe, Coates, Bruce Armstrong (LT),

All Pro
Bledsoe, Coates, Armstrong, Bob Kratch (LG),

Comments

  1. The Pats were a wild card in 1994 (5th seed), not the AFC East champs. Miami swept them in the regular season and won the tie-breaker at 10-6.

  2. By sheer luck, I started taping Patriots games that season starting with the Minnesota game. The last thing I expected from a team that was 22-67 dating back to the start of the ’89 season was a 20 point comeback.

    My memories of this team:
    – The defense just sucked the first two weeks. Offense scored 70 points and they had zero wins to show for it.
    – Trading for Marion Butts was probably not the best move. They couldn’t run the ball which is why Bledsoe had to throw so much. Luckily Kevin Turner and Leroy Thompson were fantastic pass-catching RBs who were pretty limited in other areas.
    – Ben Coates that season was the best TE I have ever seen on a regular basis, though that might be homerism on my part.
    – I recall a game against Green Bay with throwback uniforms (for the 75 anniversary of the NFL) where Matt Bahr hit a 30 yard FG at the end that just barely made it over the crossbar. That guy didnt have much in the way of range.
    – I knew this team had something special going when they gutted out that win in Indianapolis late in the year without scoring a TD. The defense was starting to come together by that point.
    – Parcells’ post game presser after the home game against the Jets included the infamous question: “Do you think out coached Pete Carroll today?” which prompted Parcells’ “Gimme a break with that dumbass question!” tirade. Probably my favorite Tuna press conference moment with the Patriots.
    – Patriots did not win the AFC East because the lost the tiebreaker to Miami having lost both meetings. Cleveland was such a bad matchup for them and even moreso in retrospect now that we know that Belichick (then Cleveland coach) owns Bledsoe.

    • I too started recording Pats games in 1994. It remains one of my favorite season to revisit. The 7 straight wins after a 3-6 start was something else. The, for some reasons, a good part of the offense wasn’t brought back for 1995 (Turner signing with the Eagles, Timpson going to Chicago, Thompson to KC, Crittenden got cut, Harlow had back problems missing most of the 95 season and Arthur was replaced with Dellenbach) and the offense sputtered in 1995, even before Bledsoe was injured against the 49ers and despite adding Curtis Martin & Meggett.

      Anyways, Peter, if you read this, I’ve been looking for another collector to trade the few missing games I’m missing from the 90’s. I have a few of them listed at
      http://members.fortunecity.com/iron_bear/patriots.html
      but added many many more since my last update.

  3. I was living in south Florida at the time and I was in attendance on opening day in Miami when Bledsoe and Marino engaged in a classic shootout, with Marino outgunning young Drew, 39-35. I remember that the Pats still had time to get down the field for a shot to win the game after Marino’s TD pass to Fryar on 4th down put Miami ahead, but Ben Coates–who was an absolute monster that day–was stripped of the ball as he rumbled down the sidelines in the final minute, and the Dolphins recovered.

    The defense did get better as the year went on, however, and that final two-week stretch when they clobbered the Bills up in Buffalo and then shutdown the Bears in Chicago to clinch a playoff spot were probably the D’s best two performances of the season.

    I was optimistic that they could beat the Browns in the playoffs, but that game turned out to be the first of many over the next few years where Belichick showed that he had Bledsoe all figured out, and that he knew how to confuse Drew and turn him into an ordinary QB (that had to be on his mind when he took the Pats’ coaching job six years later, in fact).

    Historical note: The Pats held the 4th overall pick in the ’94 draft, I believe, and selected Willie McGinest. Mel Kiper called it a “reach” and said the Pats should have traded down and taken small-college OLB John Thierry instead……another “Zen” moment for ESPN’s “draft expert.”

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