It was a warm fall day when I pulled into my new home in South Miami on October 6th, 2001. I had just moved down to Miami from Boston for absolutely no reason at all. I was jobless but looking forward to the adventure of starting a new life in a new city. I arrived to an empty house and began unpacking. My roommates were out on the water for the Columbus Day Regatta and came home all sorts of riled up. They decided to throw a party to welcome me that night which was pretty awesome. I met a lot of cool people that night but the one who surprised me most was a Colombian girl named Maria who was into classic and alternative rock. We talked for a bit and somehow sports came up and I mentioned I was a Patriots fan. She didn't know much about football so that was that. The party ended around 5am from what I remember. Good times.
The next morning at 10am, there is a knock on the door and someone ringing the bell. "What the hell is this shit?", I remember thinking to myself as I trudged over to the door in a zombie-like state. It was a guy who said he was Maria's cousin. He had two tickets and a parking pass for the Patriots/Dollfans* game and would sell them to me if I wanted them for $80. Sold! My first day in Miami was off to a great start! I vowed that from then on, I would make it an annual event to go to the game when the Patriots were in town. It's been 9 years to the day and I've kept that vow, having attended 10 Pats/Dollfans games since.
2001 - Not much tailgating for this one since we got the tix that morning. My roommate and I got to the game right before kickoff and parked in a lot far from the stadium, guzzling a few beers on the walk in. On our walk from the car to the stadium, Troy Brown ran the opening kick back to the Dollfans 5 yard line. We then heard from other tailgaters that the USA had begun bombing Afghanistan. It was 1 month after 9/11. The Pats took a 7-0 lead but it was all Dollfans after that as Lamar Smith ran all over the Pats D. The final score was 30-10, Dollfans. Two more things about this game... Having moved to Miami from a small un-diverse town just North of Boston, I was experiencing major culture shock. It seemed like no one spoke English in Miami. At halftime, I was very moved when the American flag was draped across the field and a moment of silence for our brothers and sisters in war overseas was observed by all in attendance. The other part about the game wasn't so surprising. Jay Fiedler was having a great game. He threw one pick in garbage time when the game was out of reach and was booed like no tomorrow as Doll Fans around me talked about how much he sucked. Way to get behind your team. The Pats would finish the season as Super Bowl Champions for the first time in my lifetime. Figures the year I move away they win it all...haha.
2002 - A buddy of mine flew down with his girlfriend for this game. We had an awesome tailgate with Pats fans who seemed to outnumber Doll Fans 2-1. At least we got a nice buzz on because the Pats lost again 26-13.
2003 - I went to this game with my buddy, Ryan, whom I was also battling in fantasy football that week. We sat in the upper endzone and he was rubbing it in each time the scoreboard flashed scores from other games where his players were scoring points in our matchup. I had Tom Brady on my team and as the game went on, my fantasy team was making a comeback. Our match was close when the Pats game went to overtime. The Pats made a key defensive stop and then Brady hit Troy Brown for a 75-80 yard TD to not only win the game but give me the W in my fantasy matchup. It was awesome and one of the best times I can remember having with Ryan. He passed away 5 years later. I still think about him all the time. He was a great friend.
2004 - The Pats/Dollfans game fell on a Monday night this year. A buddy of mine and I got to the game early and got the fire going to cook some dinner and drink some beers. It was a good thing we had a nice fire going because it was the coldest night I can remember in South Florida. At kickoff it was 52 degrees and there was a ton of wind. We used the fire to keep warm and had 2-3 layers on! Sure, it was nothing like a snow game at Foxboro but for Miami it was cold! We scored killer seats for this game about 5 rows up on the 40 yard line and sat there with our hands going numb as they clenched beer after beer. The Pats went up 28-17 about halfway thru the 4th quarter and my buddy, who had driven us to the game, wanted outta that stadium like a typical shitty Doll Fan. I laid into him as we walked to the car for being a shitty fan and as we opened the doors the stadium goes nuts. The Dollfans had scored but botched the 2-point try and were down 6. As we drove South on 93, Brady threw an interception and Derrius Thompson (I'll never forget that jobber beating us) scored the game winning TD. "THAT'S WHY YOU DON'T LEAVE EARLY!!!", I yelled at my friend the rest of the way home even though I was glad to not have had to deal with the loss in person.
2005 - I get to see my 2nd Pats win as they take the game 23-16. Heath Evans, a former Dollfan, starts for the Pats at RB even though he's a FB and has a great game. This was also the first time the Pats would see Nick Saban as coach of the Dollfans. It was also the last.
2006 - The Pats played the Dollfans on my birthday this year and I scored great tickets for me and an old friend of mine from back home. The game, however, will forever be remembered by me as the "Birthday Beatdown". The Patriots lost 21-0 in a horrible game. It was like I was a Patriot out in a boat on my birthday and a dolphin jumped out of the water and over my boat, taking a crap on my birthday cake in the process. It sucked.
2007 - Redemption. For as bad of a beatdown as 2006 was for the Patriots, they more than made up for it in this game. Tom Brady threw 6 touchdowns with 2 going to former Dollfan, Wes Welker, and 2 being lobbed up in the air for Randy Moss. Both Welker and Moss also had 100+ yards in this game. The Pats would go on to break a bunch of records this year with an undefeated regular season and nearly a perfect season. I still don't care what any Doll Fan who clings to the past says - 18-1 in the year 2007 is still more impressive than 17-0 in 1972. I was at the Super Bowl when the Giants defeated the Patriots on a lucky heave and catch and that would've sucked more than the "Birthday Beatdown" had it not been for the insane time I had out there.
2008 - Tom Brady was injured and knocked out for the season on the opening drive of the first game of the season. Matt Cassell came to Miami and led the Patriots to a blowout 48-28 victory, throwing for over 400 yards with 3 TD passes to Moss. I got really shitfaced at this game and that's about all I remember haha.
2009 - Disappointment. The Pats shot themselves in the foot this game. Belichick overcoached and the players underperformed after going up by 14 on a bomb to Moss (one that I called before the snap) and a TD run by Kevin Faulk in the first half. They led 21-10 after a lucky pass caught by Sam Aiken led to a TD but then blew a number of chances to score as the Dollfans crept back into the game and eventually won 22-21. Davone Bess had a great game and looked like the Dollfans version of Wes Welker in this game.
2010 - This year I was nervous about the game. The Patriots defense is abysmal this year and although the Dollfans offense doesn't impress me, I figured they would score easily and that their D would play strong and give Brady trouble all night. We tailgated a good 4 hours for this game and sucked down many beers. I couldn't have been more wrong about feeling nervous that the Pats would lose. They won in a blowout 41-14 with Randy Moss not even catching one pass. It was all defense and special teams. The Pats would trade away Moss 2 days later to the Vikings and the Dollfans would appropriately fire their special teams coach.
Wow, nine years and 10 games of Patriots and Doll Fans. My record at Dollfan Stadium/Landshark Stadium/Sun Life Stadium is an even 5-5. Looking forward to breaking that tie next year!
*Out of all teams in all sports, I don't think there is a team I hate more than the Dollfans and that's coming from a Red Sox fan with extreme dislike for the Yankees and their fans. I HATED Dan Marino growing up. Not because he beat my team but because I thought he was an asshole. Every time he would throw an interception or fumble, he would always yell at his teammates. It was never his fault. I also can't stand the majority of the Doll Fans and can't believe they would enjoy that moniker of fandom. They are fair weather fans and most have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to their own team. Just a sad group of fans. Not all but many of them. They also cling to the "perfect season" and bring it up whenever they feel the need to pretend how much their current team doesn't suck.