When the Patriots drafted Drew Bledsoe with the first overall pick of the 1993 NFL Draft they hoped he would become the franchise quarterback the team was lacking for most of its existence. He was meant to become what Dan Marino had become in Miami: the cornerstone around which to build the team.
To become that, he would also have to beat Miami's All-Pro quarterback. Yet, in the three games the two have played prior to week 11 of the 1995 season, Marino was the only one to leave the field victoriously. With New England entering its match-up against the 6-3 Dolphins with a 3-6 record, it didn't look as if Marino's dominance of the Bledsoe-led Patriots would end.
But end it did – at least for this one game.
After a scoreless first quarter, which saw Marino throwing an early interception and his team missing a 29-yard field goal, the Patriots took a 7-0 lead, courtesy of a Curtis Martin touchdown-run. The lead wouldn't last long, though, as Miami's quarterback tied the game with a 31-yard scoring pass just three plays after the visitors took the lead.
The Patriots then answered with... missing a field goal attempt from the one-yard line. After the Dolphins took a three-point lead, New England's Matt Barr kicked a 55-yarder as time expired in the first half: the teams headed into locker rooms tied at 10.
The second half saw one quarterback rise to the occasion, while the other one struggled. Drew Bledsoe began the third quarter with four straight completions – his fourth pass was caught by Vincent Brisby for a 47-yard touchdown. While Marino answered with a 20-yard touchdown pass of his own, he also turned the ball over on his own 7-yard line after Willie McGinest forced a fumble on a sack.
Bledsoe made the best of the short field and delivered his second touchdown of the day, this time to tight end Ben Coates. Marino, who had often tormented the Patriots in the past, was unable to answer. He threw his second interception of the day midway through the fourth quarter. At that point, New England – thanks to Martin's second score of the day – was already ahead 31-16. The game would end 34-16 in the home team's favor.
While the 1995 season was a disappointment for the Patriots and the win over the Dolphins rather meaningless, it marked the first time their young franchise quarterback beat Miami's franchise quarterback. Drew Bledsoe showed that he was capable of beating the future Hall of Famer – and gave New England's fans hope that better times were ahead...