Just the first half for now - I'll get to the second half tomorrow: Run offense: Generally the Pats ran the ball with 2 or even 3 TEs (LeVoir), using a number of pulls, traps, and even an unbalanced line. Since the Dolphins stayed in their base defense and didn't counter with any extra big men, the Pats were generally successful running in the first half. Connolly was especially solid, while Kaczur had his share of problems. Moss also was blown back by a CB on a play and pancaked into Maroney's rushing lane. Other problems came when the Pats got in the red zone and tried to line Morris up at FB and Maroney at RB; Morris is quite simply not a lead blocker and that play didn't work. Instead, the Pats went to the draw on their next play, which was successful (their 2nd touchdown). The Pats' blockers generally took care of the DL, but it was the ILBs and SS that gave them problems; they were able to gobble up some good 4-5 yd gains before the SS got to the RB, though. (Forgot one): I'm going to disagree a bit here with the description offered by a Miami writer on the failed 4th-and-1 Morris run in the 2nd. While the Pats certainly didn't get any OL push on the play, they didn't allow any penetration either. On a FB dive, with inches to go, Morris saw the wall of blockers in front of him, and had three choices, in my mind: (1) jump and dive (2) lower his pads and push forward (3) turn and lower one pad and try to squeeze through a hole. His choice? #3. It didn't work, and that's not the type of running I would expect out of Morris. There wasn't a free linebacker in the area to stop Morris from diving forward, nor was there a penetrating DL to stop him from trying to push the OL forward. Still, he decided not to keep his shoulders square to the line and instead turned one shoulder into the pile (while at the same stopping his forward progress and going vertical) and tried to sneak through sideways, something Maroney is known for. Hardly a surprise, it didn't work. Pass offense: There was more play action here than I remembered. The Pats typically kept six in to block, taking the TE out of the passing game. The blocking, though, was solid, especially on the part of Connolly and Light; it should be noted that the Dolphins showed blitz on numerous occasions but actually blitzed very little in the first half. Accuracy wise, Brady was on-target, except for one throw in the red zone, you may remember, where he had plenty of time and Welker beat his man outside, but Brady just sailed it over the sideline. Welker was his usual self, running some beautiful patterns. The screen game was used some too, although Moss again blew a key block on that Faulk 3rd-and-short screen that wasn't converted. Run defense: The very little the Dolphins ran the ball, it was mostly off the play action and against the Pats' base defense (the 3-4). In that case, what gave the Pats the most trouble were the guard bubbles, specifically Mayo's. I'll get into it more in the next section, but the Pats were very careful about giving up big plays over the middle of the field, leading to Mayo not only staying home on the play action, but actually taking his first step away from the ball. As such, the G was able to meet him six yards off the line, opening up a hole that was either filled by the other ILB (Seau once, Guyton once) or a CB (Bodden, when he got hurt). The Pats also rotated linemen a bit, playing Wright at the nose and also Pryor, shifting Wilfork outside. Pryor plays a different NT, more of a 4-point stance and a low squat; on the inevitable double, this led to him getting too low to the ground and his knees buckling. Wright plays off the ball a bit more as a NT and fared better. As a DE, Wilfork was a machine, coming off the weakside on a run and catching the RB from behind. Last, the Dolphins used an unbalanced line for a handful of plays, all of which the Pats made the correct adjustment to (moved the weak DE over the ball and NT over strong G). In the one play they used the "pistol" with White, Banta-Cain bit on the fake but kept his head in it (thanks to Long whiffing on the block) and was able to pressure White on the option, with Green breaking free to cover the pitch back. Pass defense: Especially in the 2nd quarter (before the last drive), the Pats brought a pretty heavy blitz on almost every single play. However, the Dolphins countered this by keeping seven in (RB and TE). Still, this blitz was able to generate that sack in the 1st and later in the second had at least 2-3 hurries on Henne, and for all of them he stared down the rusher and delivered an accurate pass. When the Pats did blitz, though, it typically left the flats uncovered, meaning a DB or LB had to come up/over to make the tackle. Speaking of tackling, it was so-so for the half. Mayo and Wilhite whiffed on a big 3rd down play on the final drive, while Butler whiffed on Bess' TD earlier. As I mentioned in the last section, the Pats, as part of their game plan, were obviously concerned with the passing game over the middle. If you recall the Week 3 game from 2008, both the TE Fasano and WR Camarillo made some big plays over the middle, usually going over the top of the ILBs on a play action. That led to Mayo playing further back than usual and honoring that TE, and also led to the Pats playing a lot of cover one, putting McGowan in the lower middle third of the field, over the TE. As a result, the Dolphins did very little over the middle in this half, except for one pass on their two-minute drive late in the 2nd when the safeties were playing prevent. The Pats also honored the TE by bringing Chung onto the field whenever the Dolphins went to a 1 WR/2 TE package, instead of leaving a CB on the empty edge. However, the Cover-1 had an impact on the CBs. Without safety help over the top (Meriweather played the single deep zone, and had his pick when Chung was in tight nickel coverage on Bess), the corners generally had to play conservative, keeping everything in front of them. This is what led to a lot of those Bess catches we saw on Butler; because he had no immediate help over the top, Butler needed to play back and make a solid tackle on the stuff in front of him, and for the most part he did. Both CBs were on islands, simply put. Special teams: Nothing really of note here, except one funny moment on one of the Dolphins' early KRs. On the return, one of the Dolphins blockers got beat by a Pats coverage guy and was turned around. When he turned back around downfield, the Dolphins blocker immediately saw a guy in his face and landed a pretty good block on him. The problem? It was another white jersey. As the two Dolphins blocked each other, their KR was tackled behind their block.