Here are my takes from attending yesterday's game. Due to a friend of mine ending up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning (nothing serious) I had to leave in the begining of the 4th quarter, so most of the comments ignore that part. 1) As poorly as different phases of the Pats have played at various points of the year, sans a major injury to Brady, they are all but assured a spot atop the AFC East. Spare me the "the games still need to be played" garbage because as a fan, I don't need to focus on just the next game. In case anyone has forgotten, not only does NE have a 2.5 game lead on their nearest competition, making it likely that someone would have to go 9-2 the rest of the way, but NE has played 5 games - three against the AFCE and two against the teams that are assigned to them for winning the East last year. By comparison, the Jets have already played TN, Buffalo has played MN (who I know have improved, but are still an average team), and Miami has faced off against TN and Houston already. So, to recap, NE has a two game lead, three wins in the division and has yet to face any of the common opponent creampuffs. Start printing those T-shirts. 2) Miami is good at stopping the run, so it's not a surprised that NE struggled a little, but a major reason for NE's problems yesterday was Graham's absence. He is a difference maker in the running game as much as his more highly acclaimed bretheren are in the passing game. 3) That said, why did Maroney take so many carries yesterday when it was clear that Dillon was running a little better? I will address this with some wild speculation below, but if anyone has more reasonable rationale, please provide. 4) NE's secondary was not very good yesterday. My buddy (not the drunk one) and I noticed early on how easily Welker was getting open, and what truly surprised us is that he ran basically the same route every time. By every time I mean during the period that we watched for him, not the entire game. Basically all he did was run a sideline out pattern where he broke to the sideline right around the distance needed for the first down. By the third time, both of us knew exactly what he was going to do, and still he got open. It seemed that NE was overly concerned about letting Miami's WRs get down the middle of the field, because an out pattern like that is not hard to defend it you really want to. The numbers say that Miami didn't do too well on third down, but from what I could see, it wasn't because guys weren't getting open. ***Side tangent**** I love Wes Welker. I would honestly be thrilled if NE gave Miami a third round pick for him, and I could probably talk myself into being happy sending a 2nd rounder. He just makes things happen. I could go on about it, but since he's still on Miami, I won't blow too much up there. ****Close side tangent**** 5) To give the secondary a little break, the larger problem was the abysmal pass rush. Harrington had plenty of time to let his WRs and TEs get open because no one was in his face. From what I could tell, NE wanted to give up the short middle to take away the deep middle and deep sideline. But this only works if the pass rush is good enough to force the back or TE to stay in or not have time to chip someone and then come over the middle. When pressure is absent, you see what occured yesterday; the back comes free and not a single defender is within 10 yards of him. BTW, if anyone taped the game, you will see why Harrington will prove to be a flop with Miami eventually, too. He did not make one play where he was under even moderate pressure. Trust me, go back and look. 6) Everyone here knows that NE is a few bullets shy in their offensive 6-shot, but it seemed to me that they went into the Miami game feeling like they only needed 2 in the pistol. They play calling seemed purposely simplistic, and the heavy use of Maroney, it seemed to me anyway, was a way of testing him against a good defense. I wish I could say that it was a hit, but Maroney still looks a little tentative to me when the hole is small. 7) I wasn't able to tell, did Jackson even play yesterday? This is not sarcasm, I really couldn't tell and I don't recall any plays by him. In the end it all comes down to matchups. Take a look at the AFC South. The Colts needed come from behind victories against the Jets and the Titans, while the Jags destroyed the Jets and dominated Pitt. Who won the matchup between them? Indy, of course. Miami's season was on the line yesterday. A loss and their chances of making the playoffs are essentially over. They knew it, NE knew it, we all knew it. Miami gave NE their best game of the season, and it still wasn't anywhere near enough. One last thing. I hate to do this because it always seems to cause a big commotion, but I must get it off my chest. I was very disappointed in NE fans yesterday. The stadium was not even close to loud, except during a few obviously key Miami third down plays. I don't find fault in the crowd having a little bit more in reserve for those moments, but the baseline is downright embarrasing. In my section (303) it was me, my friend and the two people to my left cheering and that was about it. I am exaggerating a little, but not really that much. I even had the people in front of me turning around and giving me looks because I was yelling during every defensive down! And to boo at the half!? I was disappointed that NE let Miami back into the game too, but that is ridiculous. It isn't really any of you that I am talking about, because I'm sure that the people who go just to socialize don't frequent these boards. But it was a terrible collective display on our part for a team that has given us so much joy in the past few years.