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JEFFERSON MAKES UP FOR DROP IN BUFFALO

Shawn Jefferson caught some redemption Monday night when he pulled down the 25-yard pass from Drew Bledsoe that enabled the New England Patriots to score an improbable 26-23 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Still, his mood was subdued afterward as he chose not to join his teammates in the locker room as they whooped and hollered in celebration of their season-saving win.

"It was a great win for us, an overall team effort," said Jefferson, who finished with six receptions for a career-high 131 yards. "I saw something in our team tonight that's been missing the last couple of weeks. Maybe this is the spark that gets us rolling."

Free safety Willie Clay said he was happy that Jefferson had wiped away the stigma of failure that followed him for more than a week after he failed to hang onto a Bledsoe fourth-down pass in the final minute of the Pats' 13-10 loss at Buffalo.

"You gotta feel happy for Shawn," said Clay. "He took a lot of heat for dropping that ball in Buffalo and now he bounced back with a huge performance."

Jefferson sought the ball in the final drive, stepping into the huddle and asking, "Can I have another chance?"

He got two, and made the most of them -- a 12-yard reception on a fourth-and-seven from the Miami 37, then an over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone.

"It's the same route (as in Buffalo on the fourth-down play) and he came through," Patriots coach Pete Carroll said. "He was really upset last week."

Clay said the Pats "wouldn't get too excited" about the win over Miami, even though it enabled them to keep alive hopes of an AFC East playoff berth.

"It's only one game, but it's a game that might be a jump start for us," the veteran defensive back said.

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