Tom Brady and the Patriots clinched the AFC East for the 12th time since 2000, blowing out the Miami Dolphins 41-13 Sunday. (USA TODAY Images)
The New England Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 41-13 on Sunday afternoon.
The Patriots returned home after a two-week road trip, clinching the AFC East for the sixth-straight season thanks to a dominant effort in the second half. After getting embarrassed in some phases week one, New England was able to get revenge on their division foes.
After reviewing the game, here¬†are a few thoughts on Sunday’s victory. –
Defense Keeps Team in Game Again, While Offense Struggles: The defense continues to play well, putting the team in good position to win games. On Sunday the unit held Miami’s offense to 3-of-16 on third down, had two interceptions and compiled four sacks.
There were some rough moments, as Mike Wallace torched Malcolm Butler on the first drive and scored a touchdown as the second half came to a close. It’s a tough matchup for the undrafted rookie cornerback, and it’s fair to question why Darrelle Revis or a more qualified defensive back wasn’t put on Wallace.
The defense clamped down in the second half. While the Dolphins had 271 yards and 13 points in the first two quarters, they were held to only 90 points and shut out in the final two quarters.
New England has outscored their last four opponents (Detroit, Green Bay, San Diego and Miami) 54-6 in the second half. The defense has allowed only one second half touchdown since the bye week (six games) coming against the Colts in Indianapolis.
The Return of Chandler Jones: After missing six games and being sidelined for about two months with a hip injury, Chandler Jones returned to the field for the Patriots.
Jones recorded seven total tackles, 1.5 sacks and forced a fumble in his first game action. Jones lined up in multiple spots, playing defensive end with his hand in the dirt and standing, also kicking inside to rush in certain situations.
He was on the field for 55-of-74 defensive plays, working his way back from the injury. While he wasn’t a full-go, Jones didn’t miss a beat. He looked explosive, moved well and his fresh legs could give a much-needed boost to the pass rush. Great sign moving forward.
Patriots End Troubling Trend, Dominate in Third: New England struggled in the third quarter heading into the contest. In the three games previous, the team scored just three total points in those games and had four-straight possessions to start the third quarter in San Diego, all resulting in three-and-outs for the offense.
On Sunday, Tom Brady and the offense flipped a switch. The Patriots scored 24 points, dominating Miami and crushing any hopes of another upset. In their four possessions this week, the team scored on every drive. Hopefully this continues after some shaky play coming out of the break in weeks past.
Brady’s Scramble¬†Boosts Team: On the first drive on the second half, New England was driving down the field. New England was on Miami’s 20, facing a third and 11. After the snap, Brady ran off right-tackle after the play broke down, picking up 17 yards and lowered his shoulder to the Dolphins defender.
The crowd went crazy, Brady was fired up and instead of settling for a field goal, the Patriots picked up the first down to score a touchdown on the following play. Any time Brady decides to run instead of throw, it’s usually a win for the defense, but his competitive spirit and toughness sparked the team’s dominant third quarter play.
Belichick Climbing All-Time Ranks: With yesterday’s win, Bill Belichick tied Curly Lambeau for fourth all-time, 229 wins, and passing Don Shula for most division titles as a head coach since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. The Patriots have now won 12 division titles since 2000, all with Brady as the starting quarterback.
New England’s dominance has been remarkable. Whether you’re a fan of the team or not, it’s incredible to see this team win year-in-and-year-out. The consistency and strong foundation inside the franchise is what every NFL team strives to achieve.
What’s Next:¬†The Patriots¬†travel to face the Jets in New York, wrapping up their road games for the 2014 regular season. New England has a 4-3 record on the road this season and defeated the Jets 27-25 Oct. 16 at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots could clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs with a victory Sunday.
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Listen to our “Patriots 4th¬†and 2 Podcast” on Blog Talk Radio as writers Russ Goldman, Steve Balestrieri¬†and I from¬†PatsFans.com¬†discuss the latest Patriots news on Wednesday.