Pats Beat Chippy Dolphins by 18
On a cold and raw day at Gillette Stadium, the New England Patriots did what they do best, knocking off divisional opponent Miami Dolphins 35-17 Sunday.
Continuing Success- The win is New England's seventh in a row and bumps them up to 9-2 on the season. Getting the win also secured the fact that the Patriots have now gone 17 straight seasons with at least nine wins, a league-best mark.
Brady Takes A Beating- All things considered, this was no banner day for the Patriots' hobbled offensive line. Throughout the game, the line was pushed around by the Miami front and allowed quarterback Tom Brady to take a beating from the known-to-be-dirty Dolphins defense. Brady was sacked once, hit eight times and hurried for most of the game. Mix in a botched snap by fill in center Ted Karras and a pre-snap penalty on LaAdrian Waddle and the unit was an overall down on the day.
Still Put On A Show- Despite the constant pressure in his face and the repeated blows he took, Brady still put on quite a show, Sunday. In total, the 40-year-old completed 18 of 28 pass attempts to eight different receivers for 227 yards and four scores. He did get tagged for two turnovers, though the fumble he was credited with is a scoring error, as the blame should lie mainly on Karras, who snapped the ball inadvertently, and the interception he threw was caused mainly by pressure up the middle that didn't allow him to step into the throw. Working in less-than-ideal conditions, Brady was still able to get the job done.
Two Man Show- In terms of receiving, it was largely a two man show for New England. Receiver Brandin Cooks and tight end Rob Gronkowski seemed to be the top two options for Brady on the day, as they combined for 11 catches and 165 yards on 15 targets on the day. Cooks provided a consistent deep threat all day long, catching a team-high six passes for a game-high 83 yards and one score. Gronkowski caught five balls of his own for 82 yards and two scores. His two touchdowns helped set another franchise record, as he recorded his franchise-best 16th career multi-TD game.
417- Though the line was shaky, they turned the ball over twice and operated in a somewhat sleepwalking motion through some of the game, the Patriot offense still managed to hang 35 points and 417 total yards on the sputtering Miami defense. While it wasn't always pretty, New England was able to control the game most of the way and do what they wanted to do on several occasions. Without key guys along the line and missing some skill guys, the offense went for nearly 200 yards on the ground over 200 yards through the air and 25 first downs on 67 total plays. They also went 5-12 on third down and a perfect 5-5 in the red zone. The success inside the defense's 20-yard line is notable, as the team had struggled earlier in the season in those red area opportunities.
Getting It Done, Again- The New England defense has done a full 360 flip from what they were early on in the season and, once again, got the job done Sunday. Taking away the touchdown that the Miami defense scored on the wild snap in the second quarter, the Patriots held the Dolphins to just 10 points. They also held Miami to a lowly 221 yards of total offense and 15 first downs on 60 plays. On third down, New England was dominant, holding quarterback Matt Moore and company to a horrid 2-11 on the day. They also held Miami to 1-3 in the red zone, coming away with an interception in the end zone at the end of the first half. In total, they also took the ball away from Miami three times on the game.
Sack Party- New England's front seven hasn't been noted much this season for their pressure or ability to get to the opposing quarterback, but that sentiment seemed to change a bit, Sunday. The Patriots hit Moore nine times on the day, while also adding a season-high seven sacks. They also recorded nine tackles for loss, which helped them limit Miami to just 67 rush yards on the day. Linebacker Elandon Roberts and defensive end Trey Flowers led the way for the front, both recording to tackles for loss and two sacks apiece. Second year cornerback Jonathan Jones also recorded his first career sack in the game.
Overall, it was a gritty and, at points, dominant win for the Patriots, against a divisional opponent. The injuries incurred during the game were a bit nerve-racking and will need to be monitored moving forward. There was a bit of a lull in the middle of the game and some sloppy play throughout, but on a raw day against a chippy opponent, they were able to do enough to win by three scores. Looking ahead, there is really only one tough game remaining on the schedule, so the most important thing will be for the team to stay as healthy as possible, as they get ready for postseason play.