Ryan L. Fox
After being on the road for the past two weeks, nothing beats the comfort of sleeping in your own bed or playing in front of your home crowd. After playing in Denver and in Mexico City, the New England Patriots were back at Gillette Stadium to host a 1:00 p.m. game against their divisional rivals, the Miami Dolphins. This game marked the beginning of a stretch of 6 weeks where the Pats would be playing divisional opponents 5 times out of the 6 weeks. But when you play in the weakest division in football...sometimes getting wins is like shooting fish in a barrel.
Miami won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. The Pats got the ball first on their 25 and could only manage 2 yards, getting to the 27. It seemed like a quick 3 and out situation but on 4th and 8, Pats ST Nate Ebner ran a fake punt sweep for 14 yards to the 41, keeping the drive alive. Three plays later, RB Rex Burkhead plunged over the goal line to his team an early 7-0 advantage.
After forcing the Dolphins to punt, the Pats got the ball back deep in their territory at the 12-yard line. Pats QB Tom Brady then orchestrated a 9-play, 88-yard drive that included 3 plays of 20-yards or more before capping it off with a 5-yard touchdown pass to TE Rob Gronkowski, their career 73rd TD connection, for a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Then second quarter began with the Pats forcing another Dolphins punt. The Pats looked poised to begin their 3rd scoring drive of the game. However on 2nd and 4 from their 38, Pats C Ted Karras snapped the ball before Brady was ready. The ball bounced around until Dolphins SS Reshad Jones scooped up the ball and rumbled in 14 yards to cut into the Pats’ lead 14-7.
On the ensuing Pats possession, it looked like the Dolphins were getting some momentum as they stifled the Pats offense. They looked like they were going to force a 3 and out but CB Alterraun Verner drew a costly defensive holding penalty that kept the Pats’ drive alive. Seven plays later, Brady threw his second touchdown pass to Burkhead, his second touchdown of the game, as the home team went up 21-7.
After surrendering a field goal, the Dolphins defense forced another Brady turnover. This time DB Bobby McCain picked off a Brady pass at the Dolphins 35-yard line. The Dolphins drove all the way down to the Pats 15-yard line and were poised to score before the end of the first half. But on 2nd and 10 from the Pats 15, QB Matt Moore was picked off in the end zone by CB Stephon Gilmore to keep the score 21-10 going into halftime.
After forcing the Dolphins to punt on their opening possession in the second half, the Pats got the ball on their 23-yard line. They proceeded to drive down the field, added by a couple of costly Dolphins penalties, before Brady found Gronkowski in the end zone for a 15-yard TD pass to go up 28-10.
After S Patrick Chung recovered a fumble by Dolphins RB Kenyan Drake (his second consecutive game with a recovered fumble), the Pats got the ball back with excellent field position on the Dolphins 45. However the Dolphins defense held up as P Ryan Allen made his first punt in the game (at 5:13 in the third quarter). The Dolphins themselves punted the ball back as the Pats got the ball to end the 3rd quarter.
In the 4th quarter, the Pats opened up with a 4th and 1 from the Dolphins 25-yard line. Electing to go for it, Burkhead was stuffed for a 2-yard loss. Using that momentum, the Dolphins drove down the field to the Pats 8-yard line. There, Matt Moore found Kenyan Drake for an 8-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-17.
After forcing the Pats to punt again, the Dolphins got the ball back on their 39 yard-line. However the Pats defense got sacks on 1st and 2nd down and then forced the Dolphins to turn the ball over on downs. The Pats got the ball back on the Dolphins 38-yard line and rode RB Dion Lewis all the way down to the Dolphins 5-yard line. There, Brady found WR Brandin Cooks for a touchdown as the Pats lead grew to 35-17.
After an exchange of punts, the Dolphins got the ball back with 2:48 left in the 4th quarter. After getting a first down after the two minute warning, Moore dropped back to throw and looked for WR DeVante Parker. Instead he found Pats S Duron Harmon for the game sealing interception. Brady took 3 knees and the Pats got their 9th victory of the season.
Top Patriot Performers
QB Tom Brady: 18-for-28 for 227 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT, 1 Fumble Loss
RB Dion Lewis: 15 carries for 112 yards, 1 catch for 1 yards
RB Rex Burkhead: 13 carries for 50 yards and 1 TD, 2 catches for 3 yard and 1 TD
WR Brandin Cooks: 6 catches for 83 yards
TE Rob Gronkowski: 5 catches for 82 yards, 2 TD
LB Kyle Van Noy: 6 tackles (4 solo, 2 assist), 1.0 sacks
DE Trey Flowers: 4 tackles (3 solo, 4 assist), 2.0 sacks
LB Elandon Roberts: 4 tackle (3 solo, 1 assist), 2.0 sacks
Jonathan Jones: 9 tackles (9 solo, 0 assist), 1.0 sacks
S Patrick Chung: 10 tackles (9 solo, 1 assist), 1 fumble recovery
The Little Guy
Patriots fans known what Dion Lewis can do and what he brings to the table. However in today’s game, Lewis crossed the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career when he finished the game with 15 carriers for 112 yards. Previously the closest he came to was back on December 18th last year at Denver against the Broncos where he rushed for 95 yards on 18 carries. After the victory over the Dolphins, Lewis has now surpassed the 50-yard rushing mark in 6 of the last 7 games. He may not strike you as a big, bruising running back, but whenever the Pats need a play to give the offense a jolt, they always turn to the little guy.
Gronk Smash Milestones
There’s no denying that TE Rob Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in today’s NFL. But against the Dolphins, he surpassed a few milestones.
In the first quarter, Gronk hauled in a 20-yard from Brady that pushed his career total to 6,756 career receiving yards. That allowed Gronk to pass Hall of Fame TE Kellen Winslow Sr. for 10th all-time in career receiving yards for an NFL tight end.
Later, Gronk caught his 73rd touchdown pass from Tom Brady, surpassing the Drew Brees-Marques Colston New Orleans Saints connection for 5th all-time in that category.
Then in the 3rd quarter, Gronk caught his second touchdown of the game (a 15-yard pass from Brady). That gave him his 16th career multi-touchdown game, which broke the franchise record set by former Pats WR Randy Moss of 15 career multi-touchdown games in a Pats uniform.
Fox Fist Bump
The Pats defense hands down. They were able to sack Matt Moore 7 times, force 3 Dolphins turnovers (2 interceptions and a fumble), and held the Dolphins offense to a total of 225 yards. It’s just amazing to see how this unit has overcome its early season debacles and proof that the Patriots are indeed far superior to other teams in the AFC.
Turd in the Punch Bowl
Center Ted Karras gets it this week. You’re a center, you know your QB’s cadence and when he wants the ball. By committing that bonehead early snap play, Karras allowed Miami to get on the board and almost got his QB killed. It won’t surprise me if the regular starting center David Andrews is rushed back this week or if Pats Offensive Line coach Dante Scarnecchia forces Karras to run more laps in practice.
Play of the Game
A Football Folly if I Ever Saw One
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