Ryan L. Fox
Well it’s the battle cry that’s been going on for the past week among Patriots fans of, “Squish the Fish!” prior to the New England Patriots’ Week 2 matchup against the Miami Dolphins in Miami, Florida. It was also the site of last year’s “Miami Miracle” where the Dolphins scored the game winning touchdown to beat the Patriots 34-33.
But that was 2018, this was 2019.
The Dolphins were reeling from their 59-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1 while the Patriots were coming off a 33-3 blowout victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. Everybody predicted the Patriots to simply obliterate their AFC East divisional rivals by obscure scores (some predicted 109-0). While the Patriots did drop a ton of the points on the Dolphins, it was their defense that led the way and ultimately “Squish the Fish.”
The Dolphins opened up the game with winning the coin toss and elected to receive. Starting from their own 25, they couldn’t move the ball against the Patriots defense (actually losing yards on that drive) and were forced to punt the ball.
The Patriots got the ball on their own 40 for their first possession of the game.
There were many questions whether or not how newly acquired WR Antonio Brown would fit into the Patriots offense. However, on their first drive, those questions were temporarily put to rest.
Brown caught QB Tom Brady’s first 3 passes for a combined total of 36 yards as the Patriots were able to drive down the field. They got down to the Miami 10 before then relying heavily on the ground for the remainder of the way all the way down to the Miami 1. On 2nd and goal from the Miami 1, RB Sony Michel bowled his way over for the first touchdown of the game. K Stephen Gostkowski booted the extra point through to make it 7-0.
But for the remainder of the 1st quarter, it was just an exchanging of punts between both teams that also continued into the 2nd quarter.
The Patriots were able to break that pattern with a little over 12 and a half minutes left in the quarter (12:38 to be exact).
After getting the ball back on their own 29, Brady was able to lead the offense down the field. They got down to the Miami 37. From there, the Dolphins defense was able to buckle down and hold the Patriots to a combined 7 yards on the next 3 plays. On 4th and 3 from the Miami 30, the Patriots elected for the field goal as Gostkowski trotted onto the field. The kick had the distance but not the aim as it hooked wide right.
After forcing another Miami punt, the Patriots got the ball back on their own 35.
For a moment, the Patriots looked vulnerable. A 7-yard sack on Brady on first down and then an incompletion on second down set up a 3rd and 17. But in true Patriots fashion, they were able to get the first down thanks to an 18-yard pass from Brady to WR Phillip Dorsett down to the New England 46. The Patriots then proceeded to pound the Miami defense with 6 consecutive running plays to move the ball down to the Miami 30. From there, Brady found TE Matt LaCosse for a 10-yard pass play to the Miami 20. Then on 1st and 10 from the Miami 20, Brady looked and found Brown deep over the left side for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Gostkowski then came on to try and boot the extra point through. Instead, he hooked it left as the score was 13-0 to end the 1st half.
The Patriots opened the 2nd half up by receiving the ball and starting at their own 25. After an 18-yard pass from Brady to Dorsett to the New England 43, they could only get 3 more yards on 3 plays before being forced to punt.
Miami got the ball back on their own 15 as the began their first possession of the 2nd half. After two straight incompletions, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick looked to WR DeVante Parker deep. However the pass was deflected by CB Stephon Gilmore and into the waiting arms of S Devin McCourty.
The Patriots were able to drive down to the Miami 10 before having to settle for a 28-yard field goal by Gostkowski to make it 16-0.
After forcing another Miami punt, the Patriots got the ball back on their own 35. After 2 strong runs by Michel, Brady found LaCosse for a 23-yard pass to the Miami 27. That was followed up by a 12-yard run by RB Rex Burkhead down to the Miami 15. Brady then found Dorsett for what appeared to be a 11-yard pass down to the Miami 4. However, the play was called back due to an offensive pass interference penalty on WR Josh Gordon and spotted at the Miami 25.
The Patriots were easily able to regain most of those lost yards on an 18-yard pass from Brady to WR Julian Edelman down to the Miami 7. The Patriots got the ball all the way don to the Miami 4 as Michel bowled his way down to the Miami 1. Patriots coach Bill Belichick felt Michel crossed the goal line and challenged the play. The play was reviewed, the call was upheld, and the Patriots were charged with a time out. A false start penalty backed the Patriots back to the Miami 6. On the ensuing play, Brady tried to find Edelman in the endzone but was interfered with by Dolphins CB Eric Rowe (former Patriots CB), giving the Patriots a 1st and goal at the Miami 1. Brady took the ball over the goal line for a QB sneak score. Gostkowski booted the extra point through to make it 23-0.
The two teams then exchanged punts with one another to end the 3rd quarter and go into the 4th quarter.
The Dolphins got their first possession of the 4th quarter on their own 33. For a while, it seemed like the Dolphins offense had some life in them as they were able to move the ball successfully. They were able to get up to their own 49 before facing a 3rd and 2. Fitzpatrick tried to find Parker over the right side. Instead, he found Gilmore. Gilmore intercepted the pass and ran it back 54-yards for the touchdown. Gostkowski’s PAT then made it 30-0.
The Dolphins got the ball back on their own 25 as they were desperate to score some form of points. Again, Fitzpatrick lead the offense down the field all the way to the New England 38, the farthest the Dolphins have driven for the entire game. On 1st and 10, Fitzpatrick looked to dump it short to RB Kallen Ballage. Ballage caught it but ended up bobbling the ball before bobbling it up into the air and into the waiting arms of Patriots LB Jamie Collins. Collins ended up taking the ball back 69-yards for the touchdown and the 2nd Pick Six of the game. The PAT after made it 37-0 with less than 9 minutes left in the game.
The Dolphins got the ball back on their own 25 as Fitzpatrick was benched in favor of QB Josh Rosen. Rosen lead the team down the field down to the New England 40. After 2 straight incompletions (including one to WR Allen Hurns that would have been a touchdown), Rosen was sacked back at the Miami 47 by Patriots DE Michael Bennett. Faced with a 4th and 23, Rosen’s pass to WR Preston Williams fell short as the Patriots got the ball back at their own 36.
But on their first play, Michel ended up fumbling the ball and it was recovered by S Minkah Fitzpatrick at the New England 40. But Rosen ended up throwing an incompletion, sacked for 0 yards, and then threw 2 straight incompletions to turn the ball over on downs at the New England 41 with a little over 5 minutes left in the game.
But instead of allowing rookie backup QB Jarrett Stidham come in, Brady came back in.
Wasting little time, Brady found Burkhead for a 32-yard pass to the Miami 27 and then followed that up with a 17-yard pass to Edelman down to the Miami 10. After two straight runs, Brady hit RB James White for a small screen pass. White ended up jogging untouched into the endzone. Gostkowski’s PAT made it 43-0 with a little over 2 minutes left in the game.
The Dolphins tried one last time to drive to score some points. They got all the way down to the New England 5. But with 4 seconds left in the game, Rosen’s pass to TE Mike Gesicki found its way into the hands of Collins to end the game, giving the Patriots a 43-0 blowout shutout victory over their AFC East rivals.
The 43-0 shutout was the first shutout the Patriots had since December 12, 2012, when they shut the Dolphins out 28-0 at Gillette Stadium when Tom Brady was only 35 years old. It was also the first shutout on the road for the Patriots since November 19, 2006, when they shutout the Green Bay Packers 35-0 at Lambeau Field when Tom Brady was 29 years old and was just simply viewed as a game manager.
QB Tom Brady: 20-for-28 for 274 yards and 2 TDs for a QB Rating of 124.7, 2 carries for 1 yard and 1 TD
RB Sony Michel: 21 carries for 85 yards (4.0 yards per carry), 1 TD and 1 fumble lost, 5 catches (on 7 targets) for 41 yards
WR Antonio Brown: 1 rush for 5 yards, 4 catches (on 8 targets) for 56 yards and 1 TD
S Devin McCourty: 2 tackles (1 solo, 1 assist), 1 pass defended, 1 INT
CB Stephon Gilmore: 2 tackles (0 solo, 2 assist), 3 passes defended, 1 INT, 1 INT TD
LB Jamie Collins: 5 tackles (3 solo, 2 assists), 0.5 sacks, 2 passes defended, 2 INTs, 1 INT TD
DT Adam Butler: 3 tackles (3 solo, 0 assists), 2.0 sacks, 1 pass defended
DE Chase Winovich: 2 tackles (1 solo, 1 assist), 1.5 sacks
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
8 – The number of teams QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown at least 1 interception for, an NFL record
.556 – Coach Bill Belichick’s winning percentage against former assistants when facing them for the first time in the regular season (5-4)
.667 – Coach Bill Belichick’s winning percentage against former assistants during the regular season (10-5)
20 – The total career regular season rushing touchdown for QB Tom Brady
14 – The number of points off of Miami turnovers (2 Pick Sixes) by the Patriots in the 4th quarter alone.
16 – The differential of 1st downs between both teams (Patriots 27, Dolphins 11)
32 – The longest play for the entire game (a 32-yard pass from Brady to Burkhead)
76 – The combined points of the 2019 Patriots through their first 2 games of the season, tying them with the 2007 squad for most posts in first 2 games of season in franchise history
72 – The number of different receivers Brady has thrown to over his career, the most in NFL history
1 – The number of career pick 6s CB Stephon Gilmore (8 years) and LB Jamie Collins (7) have in their NFL careers
I know it’s only Week 2, but the Patriots are already facing the injury bug.
In the first quarter, Isaiah Wynn had to leave the game with a foot injury. His return was questionable at the time. By the time the third quarter began, it came out that Wynn was downgraded to out for the remainder of the game.
Then in the 3rd quarter with about 8 minutes left, Miami Dolphins RB Kenyon Drake was tackled for a 3-yard gain at his own 21 by DE Adam Butler. However, during the play, a Patriots defender got into a minor tussle with a Miami offensive lineman and as the play ended, the Pats defender pushed his opponent onto the ground. Unfortunately lying on the ground was S Patrick Chung as he felt 300+ lbs crash onto his lower body. Chung was taken out of the game and did not return for the remainder.
Now why is this a concern? It’s because both players are not only key contributors (or in Wynn’s case, a player looked to become a key contributor) but are coming off major injuries from last year. In Wynn’s case, he’s coming off a torn achilles that forced him to miss the entire 2018 season. With Chung, he’s coming off a broken arm he suffered during the team’s 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.
Yeah yeah, I get it. ‘Next Man Up’ and all that crap. But as we saw in the game, Wynn’s backup (LT Marshall Newhouse) had some struggles and a couple of penalties. Also, Chung is an integral part of that Patriots defense that is looked to as a leader. If either of those players have to miss significant time,
Fox Fist Bump
The Fox Fist Bump just goes to the entire Patriots defense. Tom may call himself ‘Terrific’ but the defense was perfect against the Dolphins. They utterly dominated and tormented the Dolphins offense, shutting them out completely. They were able to able so much pressure to the Miami quarterbacks, including sacking them 7 times. Not to mention that they picked off Fitzpatrick 3 times, taking it back twice for a Pick 6, and then picked off Rosen to end the game.
It just seems that while all the focus is going to be on Tom Brady, Antonio Brown, and the Patriots offense, it’s the defense that’s going to carry the team in 2019. Young and hungry players mixed with seasoned veterans, dare I say this defense can be as special if not better than the ’85 Bears and the ’00 Ravens.
In a 43-0 blowout victory, you wouldn’t think there would be a meatball given. But there will be. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski gets a giant meatball. A shanked field goal is something to be expected. But a shanked field and two (yes, two) shanked PATs is unforgiveable. Looks like somebody is going to be running extra laps after practice this week.
Play of the Game
Pick Six Times Two
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