Miami Gave New England's Offensive Line All it Could Handle Sunday

Christine Roy
December 03, 2012 at 10:20pm ET

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On Sunday in Miami a roughed up offensive line had their hands full with a stout Dolphins defense. With Logan Mankins out for third straight game and Dan Connolly battling a back injury, the makeshift line had a difficult time protecting Tom Brady and allowing room for the run. We've seen injuries hurt this line before but their inability to protect Brady is cause for concern.

The offensive line is struggling without the presence of Logan Mankins and needs to step up as the season winds down. (FILE:USPresswire)

The o-line gave up four sacks on Sunday and Brady finished the game with a 53.5 QBR which is second worst only to the Patriots loss to the Cardinals in Week 2. He completed just 60% of his passes, only threw one touchdown pass and had an interception on a lofted pass intended for Aaron Hernandez. One has to wonder if he got rattled by the pressure from the defense. It wasn't until the Patriots last drive of the game that they got into a rhythm. With just about eight and a half minutes left in the game the Pats executed a 77 yard drive down the field that ate up 7:18 and ended in a field goal. The hurry-up offense seemed to have fallen by the wayside as it was slow moving in Miami.

Donald Thomas and Nick Mcdonald weren't the only ones struggling. Sebastian Vollmer had a difficult time on Sunday with three of Brady's four sacks coming from the right side of the field. He has been dealing with injuries this season and in the past so his performance on Sunday once again brings up questions about his health. The AFC East is locked up but as Bill Belichick says there's still a quarter of the season left to play. Dante Scnarecchia will have his hands full this week trying to figure out what went wrong down in South Beach. He is a master at his craft so hopefully by the time Monday night rolls around he will have put a stopgap in the system to give Brady the protection he needs.

As far as the run game is concerned, it was almost nonexistent on Sunday. The Patriots threw for twice as many first downs as they rushed for and in total only rushed for 108 yards. They only averaged 3.4 yards per rush which is abysmal compared to other games this season. It's as if the run game was at a standstill until the second half. Stevan Ridley carried the ball four times in the first half and 15 times in the second half and got 71 yards rushing the hard way. Shane Vereen meanwhile didn't get any carries in the first half and finished the game with a modest three carries for 41 yards. It is obvious that the symmetry was off this week and the offense got caught without their run game in full effect.

There is a lot to improve upon moving forward with this offensive line. It is apparent how crucial it is to the offense functioning seamlessly. The Patriots can't afford to have Brady taking as many hits as he did and the run game's success is dependent on solid play from the line. This week getting ready for the Houston Texans, the best team in the NFL, it will not only be in Bill that we trust, but it will also be in Dante we trust.