Patriots Lay An Egg @ Miami
The New England Patriots played some of their worst football of the season, Monday night, as they fell to the Miami Dolphins, 27-20.
0-11- The Patriot offense was horrendous all night long and no stat better portrays that than the fact that the unit went an astonishing 0-11 on third down for the game. 0-11. Never in his career, had Tom Brady led an offense that didn't convert a third down in a game, prior to Monday. It's really hard to win a football game when you don't convert a third down.
Streaks Snapped- The loss snapped New England's 8-game win streak. It also snapped their 14-game regular season, road win streak, which was the second longest streak of all time. The Pats also failed to capitalize on a chance to clinch the East division, Monday.
No Gronk, Big Problems- The absence of tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was serving his 1-game suspension for his hit on Tre'Davious White last week, caused a bevvy of issues for the Patriot offense, all night long. Without the All-Pro tight end on the field, the offense seemed out of place, at times, and overwhelmed by the Miami defense. Gronk's absence allowed for the Dolphins to mix up some of their packages and play with virtually no fear of getting burned up the middle.
Cutler Cuts Em Up- In one of the more shocking story lines of the night, the Patriot defense was cut up all night long by veteran quarterback Jay Cutler. Though the journeyman quarterback has always been considered to be naturally talented, he has regularly failed to live up to his skill. On Monday, however, Cutler was mostly brilliant, leading the Dolphin offense to a 362-yard, 27-point night. Cutler completed 25 of 38 pass attempts for 263 yards and three touchdowns on the night, as Miami stunned the Pats.
Done In By Drake- While Cutler put together one of his more solid games of his career, he got a lot of help from young running back Kenyan Drake. On the night, Drake was dominant both running and catching the football. Drake, who was bumped up on the team's depth chart after they trade veteran Jay Ajayi a few weeks back, carried the ball 25 times for 114 yards and added another 79 yards on five catches. He proved to be both elusive and physical, throughout the game, and caused the Patriot defense fits.
Howard Holds Em Down- Miami's second year defensive back Xavien Howard didn't record a single tackle all night, but was the best Dolphin defender in the game. Howard shut down Patriots deep threat receiver Brandin Cooks all night and picked off Brady twice. Howard was relentless in his coverage and took away all of New England's big play potential.
Sluggish All Around- The best way to describe the Patriots for this game would be to say they were really sluggish all around. There offense was inept and their defense lacked that same sturdiness it had possessed over the past eight games. Of course the loss of Gronkowksi and the rash of injuries that the team is dealing with put them behind the eight ball to start, but the guys on the field just didn't look overly interested in the fight.
Still Control Their Own Destiny- Even with the debacle that was this loss, the Pats still control their own destiny in the conference. Next Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is still one that will likely decide which team gets home-field advantage in the postseason. If the Pats win, the two teams will have the same record and New England would hold the tie-breaker with the win. They'll have a rested Gronkowski, Sunday, and potentially guys like Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy and Marcus Cannon back on the field. They ae still 10-3 and things could be far worse.