By: Russ Goldman
Fans were treated to quite a game after we watched the Patriots pulled away in the second half in their 38-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins on the road on Monday Night Football.
This was a typical season opener as both teams were feeling each other out in the beginning stages of the game. However, it was the Patriots who progressed more as the game went on, and they earned their first win of the season.
The Dolphins came out strong to start the game, and scored convincingly on their opening drive. However, the Patriots answered right back with a touchdown, and it was obvious from the beginning, that their offense was way ahead of Miami’s defense.
At the half the Patriots were up 14-7, but a missed field goal to go into intermission hurt the reality that the Patriots were controlling the game. A Brady interception early in the the third quarter, while driving the team changed the game momentarily as the Dolphins drew even in the game at 14-14 with most of the entire second half still to be played.
But, what was impressive regarding the Patriots in this game was their ability to answer right back as they scored a touchdown shortly after the Dolphins put up their points. The Patriots offense could not be stopped on this night, and they would eventually pull away in this victory at Sun Life Stadium.
So what did we learn from watching the game on Monday Night?
The first thing we learned is that the Patriots offense already looked like it was in mid-season form. Tom Brady carved up the Dolphins all game, and the Patriots offensive line did a tremendous job of giving him time to find the open receiver. The Dolphins had no answers for the Patriots offense.
The second thing we learned is the Patriots defense is a work in progress, and even though the statistics will show otherwise, I feel there are encouraging signs coming from this side of the ball which I will explain later. This unit is working itself into shape, and it could take some time to see the finished product.
The Dolphins going into the game were huge underdogs, but I expected them to play well in their home opener. After watching the game I am surprised by the lack of conditioning, and the overall play of the Dolphins.
On offense, Chad Henne I thought stepped up his game and played well. He was 30-49 for 416 yards and 2 touchdowns. Reggie Bush was decent, but I think he needed to be better against the Patriots. He ran for 38 yards, and had 56 receiving yards. However, I still doubt his ability to be a feature back. For the Dolphins to have a successful season, I think they are going to need more out of Bush running the ball.
On defense, the Dolphins were below average the entire game against the Patriots. Brady had his way against the Dolphins, and they had a hard time getting much pressure on the Patriots quarterback. I expected much more out of a defense that was in the top 10 in many categories last season.
For the Patriots on offense, Brady was at his best against the Dolphins. He was 32-48 with 517 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He had very little issues with the Dolphins defense. The Patriots also ran for 106 yards as a unit with Danny Woodhead and Benjarvus Green-Ellis combining for the majority of the yardage.
On defense, the Patriots gave up a good amount of passing yards. It wasn’t the complete attacking style I was hoping for, but I saw encouraging signs as the Patriots did get 4 sacks, and at times pressured Henne. The best signal of improvement had to be on third down. The Dolphins were 2-14 on third down conversions. Last season the Patriots were the worst in the NFL in these situations.
The most important thing to come out of this game is a victory that happens to be on the road in the division. It is certainly a positive first step to build on this season.
As I always do, I like to look back at my keys to victory to see what kind of role they played in the game. Below is my analysis of ” My Five Keys To Victory For the Patriots Against The Dolphins.”
1. The Patriots will need to make coaching adjustments on the fly. I really thought going into the game that Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator would play a huge factor in this game. The Dolphins came out strong, and scored on their opening drive. However, the Dolphins did not score again in the first half. I am not sure if it was coaching adjustments, but the Patriots defense settled down as the game progressed.
2. The offensive line will have to do an exceptional job of protecting Tom Brady. I thought the offensive line did a tremendous job of protecting Brady the entire game. The star of the line had to be Nate Solder as he really shut down Cameron Wake the majority of the game.
Even with the injury to center Dan Koppen, the offensive line did not skip a beat with Dan Connolly in there as the replacement. Brady had so much time to do whatever he wanted in this game. The line deserves so much credit in this victory.
Rob Gronkowski (pictured) and Aaron Hernandez were unstoppable Monday night. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
3. The Patriots tight ends need to take advantage of the middle of the field. Well this key was a huge factor in the game. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were unstoppable Monday night. Hernandez had 7 receptions for 103 yards, and 1 touchdown. Gronkowski had 6 receptions for 86 yards, and 1 touchdown. This duo is going to be very hard to stop the entire season.
4. Jerod Mayo needs to become a play-maker against the Dolphins. Mayo dropped into coverage a good amount of the game. He did have 5 tackles, but this was not a game that Mayo was asked to be a play-maker. His role was obviously dictated by the game-plan.
5. The Patriots defense needs to cover the middle of the field. This key continues to be a concern for the Patriots. Anthony Fasano, and Brandon Marshall ate up the middle of the Patriots defense. I think the defensive backfield as whole is accountable for this problem. The Patriots need to figure out a way to fix this issue soon.
So what did we learn from this game? I think we saw an offensive unit that is ready to go, and could actually be better than last year’s version if that is possible. On defense, I think this a unit in its beginning stages. It is only going to get better as the weeks go by. It is not a finished product, and I think we saw that in Miami.
What are your reactions to the game? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of New England’s 38-24 victory against the Dolphins.