FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Lance Schulters was still shaking his head five minutes later, after his phantom interception had turned into another touchdown for the New England Patriots. It has been that kind of season for the Miami Dolphins, and for the Patriots, too.
Opponents cradle their arms for a pickoff and whiff, and the Patriots cruise along untouched, now at 15-0.
The Patriots beat the woeful Dolphins 28-7, which barely qualifies as news given Miami's state -- until Bill Parcells gets his hands on them. But like Schulters' miss on a Tom Brady fastball, which wound up as a 48-yard touchdown reception by Jabar Gaffney, everything broke perfectly for the Patriots on Sunday.
The Giants clinched a playoff berth with their victory over Buffalo, rendering their regular-season finale against the Patriots on Saturday virtually meaningless -- except to the Patriots' pursuit of perfection.
The Patriots are already the first team to go 15-0 in the regular season. If they beat the Giants, they will join the 1972 Dolphins as the only teams to complete unblemished regular season schedules. Then will come the real goal: a flawless championship run.
"Records come along, recognition comes along," Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi said. "We're not shooting for anything. We have to focus on who is in front of us. A small piece has to be in our mind what we can achieve. We want our fans to have fun and you can talk about it. Now that we're 15-0, yes, we want to be 16-0."
For most of the first half, the Patriots seemed to set or approach a record with each snap. Quarterback Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes to Randy Moss. Brady is one short of the season touchdown record of 49 set by Peyton Manning in 2004, and Moss is one short of Jerry Rice's record of 22 touchdown receptions in a season, set in 1987.
The four unanswered touchdowns in the first half gave the Patriots 71 for the season, breaking the NFL record set by the 1984 Dolphins of Dan Marino, who must cringe when he watches this iteration of the Miami offense -- which was outscored by 70-7 in the first half by the Patriots this season and which on Sunday allowed seven sacks of Cleo Lemon.