By: Russ Goldman
Each week after a Patriots victory I usually go back and write a post about “What We Learned From The Patriots Victory”. I have decided to change it starting a few weeks ago, and focus on what good came out of each game. The negatives are again this week pretty obvious on both sides of the ball. I am going to bring you Five Positives To Take Away From The Patriots Victory Against The Dolphins.
The Patriots were able to come back, and then hang on in their 27-24 victory against the Dolphins. The Patriots got behind early, and were down 17-0 at the half. The best word to describe the play of the team in the first half would be pathetic. The Dolphins came out strong, and played a complete first half of football.
However, this was a game of two completely different halves as the Patriots would rally in the second half. Eventually, Tom Brady and the offense would get their rhythm together, and take over the game.
The negatives for me are obvious on defense as the Patriots gave up big passing plays, and Reggie Bush had 113 yards with an average of 5.1 yards per carry. But, the defense at times made plays when they needed to, and that should not be glanced over.
Matt Light was a game time scratch on Saturday. (FILE:Icon/SMI)
The negatives on offense had to do mostly with the offensive line. Matt Light was a game time scratch, and Logan Mankins went out early in the game with an injury. There is no question that the loss of those two players were tough to overcome. The Dolphins dominated the line, and put constant pressure on Brady in the first half. However, in the second half, the line was able to contain the Dolphins better, and the offense was able to come together.
As I have done the last few weeks, I want to mention the negatives, but not harp on them. I would rather look at the good that came out of this game.
1. Tom Brady again rallied the offense and showed why he will be in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame someday. Brady had a very bad first half, and he was under constant pressure.
Brady did not panic as always, and rallied the team in the second half. To be able to find a rhythm and continue to fight is a trademark of a Brady offense. He was able to lead the Patriots offense to 27 unanswered points. He ended with throwing for 301 yards, with 1 touchdown pass.
Statistics don’t show the value of having an elite quarterback who can bring a team back when they are struggling. Brady really put the team on his shoulders in the second half.
2. Stevan Ridley is starting to show the potential that he could bring at the running back position. Ridley ran for 64 yards with a 4.9 yards per carry average which is excellent.
You know what you have with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and that is a consistent 3-4 yards on most carries. Ridley is starting to show the potential to have longer runs with a strong burst. I am starting to see why the Patriots drafted him.
3. The Patriots continue to show mental toughness. Many teams in the NFL would not be able to recover from being down 17 at the half.
The Patriots don’t panic when they get down, and they continue to hang in there. They have shown this against the Eagles, Broncos, and now against the Dolphins. The Patriots have their flaws, but they still find ways to win games, and that can’t be denied.
4. Linebacker Dane Fletcher continues to improve. When Fletcher started to really show his potential in the pre-season, I was looking forward to seeing him to play this year. However, injuries have hurt him, and he has missed many games.
However, Fletcher came back a few weeks ago, and he is starting to make progress. He had 6 total tackles which includes solos and assists. More important was the pressure he was putting in the backfield on running and passing plays. I am not saying he is going to be an impact player, but he could be a contributor to a defense that also needs those types of players.
5. Jerod Mayo is now a play-maker on defense. I think it is now the place to erase the doubts on Mayo. He might not be Ray Lewis or Patrick Willis, but he is the leader of the Patriots defense, and showing he can make impact plays.
Mayo had a combined 13 tackles with 2 sacks, both of which were his first of the season. He has been called a tackling machine, but you add that to the interceptions he has made lately, and the sacks in this game, he is now bringing another facet to his game. Mayo is becoming a real complete linebacker.
This is another week that there are several positives to take out of this victory. As I stated last week, ignore the negatives and let’s look forward to next Sunday’s final regular season game against the Bills.