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Patriots Gain Sole Possession of Eastern Division Lead with Win over Oilers

Dec. 9, 1963 - The Boston Patriots jumped into the driver’s seat in the American Football League’s Eastern Division title race by smashing their old nemesis — the Houston Oilers, 46-28, yesterday afternoon. The teams entered the game tied for first place. They victory placed the Patriots at the doorstep of the Eastern Division title and a berth in the championship game Jan. 5, against the Western titlist, either San Diego or Oakland. If the Patriots, now 7-5-1, defeat or tie the Chiefs at Kansas City Saturday afternoon, they can’t be caught by either the Buffalo Bills or the Oilers. Winning the biggest game in their four-year history, the Patriots simply outmuscled and outhustled the Oilers, Eastern champs since the AFL began operation in 1960. The turning point came in the second quarter when the Pats punched across 21 points to take a commanding 31-14 lead at halftime. With four minutes gone in the second and trailing 14-10, the Pats turned tiger to score three touchdowns in the next 10 minutes. The 31 points were the most ever scored against Houston in a half — and the Oilers could never recover. It was also the first time that Boston ever had won at Houston, and a disappointing crowd of 23,462 in Jeppesen Stadium watched Boston roar from behind after a slow start. Houston wanted to avenge a 45-3 drubbing the Patriots gave it earlier this season in Boston. Instead, the Patriots became the first team ever to beat the Oilers both games in a season. Houston Oilers quarterback George Blanda sat out the last part of yesterday’s game because of a torn cartilage in his knee and not because of his erratic performance. Patriots’ linebacker Tommy Addison revealed last night that Blanda told him of the injury during their postgame handshake and said that he’d probably be operated on this week. He’s expected to be out the rest of the season. Boston Coach Mike Holovak singled out the Pats’ defensive unit for special praise after the game. “Sure,” he said, “they gave up 28 points, but remember, they scored two touchdowns, a safety, and set up two touchdowns for our offense with two fumble recoveries.” “What spirit this unit has,” Holovak continued. “Why, I think if I even tried to bench anybody on that defensive unit the rest of them would try to kill me.” Oiler backfield coach Walt Schlinkman remarked, “[Boston Quarterback] Babe Parilli did not have a great day passing, but he killed us with his play calling. He did a better job picking apart our defense than any quarterback for some time.”

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