October 21, 2007
A Satisfying Annihilation Of Miami
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
Things were going so well for the Patriots, you could hear the crowd in the fourth quarter chanting "Let's go Red Sox!"
The Patriots don't take too kindly to that sort of adulation for a team they still feel gets too much more press than they do. But being able to hear that meant that there weren't many Dolphin fans still at the game to drown them out, and that the Patriots had the game so well in hand that the fans were simply bored and decided to try something new.
Tom Brady and the Patriots played against an 0-6 team like a 6-0 team is supposed to. There were no trap game issues in this game whatsoever. In a venue where the Patriots usually do poorly, the Patriots came out and went through the Miami defense like a hot knife through butter. Brady kept adding to his incredible numbers this season, set a career high in touchdown passes, earned the first perfect passer rating in his career, and walked off the field a 49-28 winner over a Dolphin team which usually bedevils him here in south Florida.
The heat and humidity were here, but the quality opponent was not. In this Cam Cameron's first year as Dolphin head coach, Miami is simply a bad team right now. There was little the Dolphins could do with the Patriots in general, and Randy Moss and Wes Welker in particular. Brady threw a career high six touchdown passes, two each to Moss and Welker. Welker had nine catches for 138 yards against his former team, while Moss had four catches for 122 yards. Both touchdown catches by Moss were leaping grabs in the end zone in double coverage.
The game was non-competitive from the start. Trying to analyze this game is a waste of Internet bandwidth. The Patriots allowed the Dolphins to make it interesting in the fourth quarter, but were never threatened. When Willie Andrews answered a first quarter Miami touchdown with a 77-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, school was out. Brady amassed a perfect 158.3 passer rating, which largely explains how easy it was for him this afternoon.
That said, here are a few scant observations on what will be discussed this week in Patriot camp, as the 7-0 Patriots try and pull off the impossible next week, that being defeating the Washington Redskins, a team they haven't beaten since 1972.
Matt Cassel has probably had it as a Patriot. By training camp next year, Matt Gutierrez will likely jump up to the number two quarterback spot, or a veteran will be brought in. In the fourth quarter, up 42-14, Bill Belichick thought it was wise to bring in Cassel. On the third play, Cassel tried to hit Welker in the slot, but Welker was nowhere near open. Instead, he hit Jason Taylor in stride just perfect. The formidable pass rushing end rumbled 36 yards for touchdown and it was 42-21. You could have fried an egg on Belichick's neck.
What happened next was very interesting. Brady came back in for the next series, and simply took the Patriots on a 59-yard stroll through the Miami defense in only four plays. Welker caught a 16-yard pass to put the Patriots back up by four touchdowns. Then, on the next offensive series for the Patriots, Matt Gutierrez came in, not Cassel. Gutierrez was able to sit on the football, completed his only pass attempt, and did not embarrass himself like Cassel did. Cassel made a bad read and a dumb throw. Belichick won't forget that soon.
So, why put Brady back into a three-touchdown game? Simple. Anyone recall the comfy 28-14 lead the Patriots had here on a Monday night in 2004? What was the final score? 29-28 Miami, that's what. Belichick had to have that game in mind when he sent Brady back in for one more touchdown just to make the game even more comfy.
Moss has been wandering into the undefendable category all year long. The two second quarter touchdown bombs he caught were both jump balls into double coverage. Will Allen and Cameron Worrell tried in vain to break up the first one from 35 yards out, a play which completed a three-play, 82-yard drive. The second one, on the next drive, featured Worrell and Renaldo Hill trying to break up Moss but failed. On the play, which Moss caught a 50-yarder from Brady on third and eighteen, Hill hyperextended his left leg and had to come out of the game.
The bottom line is that on both plays, Moss was covered as well as anyone could cover him. He used his height advantage to outleap the two defenders, and he used his huge hands to snatch the ball away from the defensive backs. The only alternative would have been to interfere with him. Otherwise, one must wonder what more defenses have to do to put the clamps on Moss. If Brady continues to be as hot as he is and furthers the chemistry he is developing with Moss, the sky is the limit.
Belichick will be seething at his defense this week, not just Cassel. The defense did not play sixty hard minutes of football. They let up in the second half and allowed Ronnie Brown and third string quarterback Cleo Lemon to move the ball a lot easier. Miami did score three fourth quarter touchdowns, which smacked of the aforementioned Monday night game in 2004. Granted, the game was out of hand, but if the Patriots are to tackle a difficult (for them) opponent next week like Washington, a bad defensive fourth quarter in a blowout win is perfect fodder for keeping the team honest all week long. Brown had 76 yards rushing and 33 yards receiving before coming out of the game with an injury. Jesse Chatman came in his relief and scorched the Patriots for 77 yards rushing on seven carries.
Those 77 yards by Chatman could perhaps lead to fewer yards next week by Clinton Portis, who was used to trashing out the Patriots when he was with Denver.
The fans in the stands had it right, with apologies to Bob Kraft. Let's go Red Sox. This game wasn't the big one in the area on Sunday, and everyone knows it. The Patriots took care of their business by day. If the Red Sox do the same by night, go crazy, New England.
Curt Schilling talked to Daisuke Matsuzaka about how to win big games. Wonder if Tom Brady can be flown back in time to chip in his two cents as well. Could it hurt?
Site-specific editorial/photos Copyright 2001-2004 PatsFans.com. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.