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 several 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 yet again went behind by a considerable amount early as they were down 21-0 at the end of the 1st quarter. This time they would make their move in the second quarter, and eventually score 49 unanswered points. The Patriots were able to come back and defeat the Bills 49-21 at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
It seemed like groundhog day as the Patriots played similar to how they came out against the Dolphins one week ago. The problems were on both sides of the ball. The Bills offense was clicking through the air as it got 21 points in the first quarter. On the flip side, the Patriots offense could not get going in the first 15 minutes. The performance once again in this 1st quarter was tough.
Somehow though the Patriots got it in gear on both sides of the ball in the 2nd quarter, and the half ended 21-14. The second half was all Patriots as they basically steamrolled the Bills on their way to a victory.
The negatives on defense for me have much more to do with the passing game than in the running game. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 307 yards, and 2 touchdowns. In the first half, his receivers seemed to be wide open. Devin McCourty I thought had a poor game, and was part of the problem. However, to their credit though the defense rallied, and did intercept the Bills quarterback 4 times later in the game.
The negatives on offense are all about the slow starts. It seems to be about execution and focus, because once this unit figures it out, it takes off like a rocket. Tom Brady and his teammates really need to fix this issue leading up to the divisional round of the playoffs.
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. The return of Patrick Chung on defense was a huge positive. Watching the game you could see his impact early and often. He made a huge hit on a third down play. He ended with 7 total tackles, and was active in this game. His leadership in the secondary can also not be overlooked.
2. A no name on defense makes two serious plays in the secondary. Sterling Moore had 2 interceptions, and both of them were legitimate. He even ran one pick back for a touchdown. For a player that came to the Patriots in their tenth game, and then got cut and brought back, this was quite an accomplishment.
3. The Patriots running game was a solid compliment to the passing game. The continued improvement of Stevan Ridley was on display once again. He ran for 81 yards, and had a 5.4 yards per carry average. However, he did fumble the ball that went out of bounds luckily. He will have to be better holding on to the ball in the play-offs.
Benjarvus Green-Ellis gave the Patriots some tough yards as well. He was also able to score 2 touchdowns. Overall, the running game was a positive against the Bills.
4. Aaron Hernandez shows again there are two dominant tight ends in the Patriots offense. With so much talk about Rob Gronkowski lately, it has been interesting to see Hernandez emerge once again.
Hernandez had 7 receptions for 138 yards, and one touchdown. He also ran the ball for 26 yards out of the backfield. There is no question he is completely healthy now and dominant.
5. The mental toughness of the Patriots continues to show itself. This was a positive last week, and definitely needs to be mentioned once again. When you go down 21 points in the 1st quarter, and don’t panic, that really shows me a huge intangible that the Patriots players possess.
I am sure we all wish that the slow starts would not be a factor in several of these games, but the reality is that it keeps happening. The positive is that the Patriots can dig themselves out of these holes, and I think character and mental toughness are important in these situations.
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 the Divisional round the play-offs in 2 weeks.