By Brenden Rosenau, Patriots Daily Staff
1998 might not be all that memorable for Pats fans, but it was in fact historic. For the first time in franchise history the Patriots reached the postseason three straight years. That year they posted a 9-7 record and finished fourth in a stacked AFC East. It was the teams fourth playoff appearance in five years.
Once again there were plenty of headlines before the season started as the Border War intensified when Curtis Martin signed a “poison pill” contract as a restricted free agent with the Jets. The Patriots were compensated with two draft picks, a first and third, but the loss of Martin would sting for a long time.
The first round pick looked good at first when the Pats took Georgia’s Robert Edwards. Edwards nearly was able to duplicate the production of Martin by running for 1,115 yards and scoring all nine of N.E.’s rushing touchdowns. Tragically, Edwards blew out his knee before the Pro Bowl and was out of football for four years. The injury was so severe that there was a threat of amputation and a possibility Edwards might not be able to walk again.
On the field, New England was 6-5 when Drew Bledsoe broke his finger on the helmet of Miami Dolphin DT Shane Burton. Despite the injury Bledsoe led the Pats to a come-from-behind 26-23 win when he hit Shawn Jefferson for a 25-yard TD in the final 30 seconds. The following week Bledsoe hit Ben Coates on a 1-yard pass for a 25-21 win over Buffalo. With the dual comebacks Bledsoe became the first quarterback in NFL history to engineer to consecutive comebacks in the final 30 seconds.
However, in Week 16 Bledsoe took a seat and Scott Zolak took over. Zolak was able to pick up a win over San Francisco, but he was dreadful in a loss to the Jets. In the playoffs Zolak was at the helm and was just 21-44 for 190 yards and a pick as the Pats lost to Jacksonville 25-10. With the threat of Bledsoe nullified, the Jags loaded the box and held Edwards to just 28 yards on 17 carries.
- Drew Bledsoe (14 games) 263-481 (8th NFL) 3633 yards (6th), 20 TD
- Robert Edwards 291-1115, 9 TD (T-5th) , 35-331 3 TD 1446 yards from scrimmage (Only rushing TD’s, rookie), 12 total TD (T-8th)
- Ben Coates 67-668, 6
- Shawn Jefferson 34-771, 22.7 yard per catch (1st),
- Terry Glenn 50-792, 3
- Lawyer Milloy 120 tackles, 6 INT (T-6th)
- Ty Law 9 INT (1st)
- Henry Thomas 6.5 sacks
- Chad Eaton 6 sacks
- Adam Vinatieri 127 points (T-6th)
Ty Law (CB)
Ben Coates (TE), Law, Lawyer Milloy (S)