The Patriots improved to an AFC best (Pittsburgh plays Monday night) 9-2 and rolled to a 35-17 win over the self-destructing Miami Dolphins. While it was far from a clean game by the Patriots it was more than good enough to send Miami possibly to the golf course for any kind of post-season hopes now.
The Bills remain three games back in the division which sets up a very big divisional game next weekend in Buffalo. A win in upstate New York and they can just about clinch the division.
Here are our observations after watching Bill Belichick give a somewhat salty press conference after an 18-point win. Which tells you all you need to know about clean the game was from a Patriots perspective.
Miami Had No Answer for Dion Lewis: Remember the trade deadline rumors about Dion Lewis? Hmm, those seem like a distant memory now. Lewis had his first career 100-yard game and rolled for 112 yards on just 15 carries with a monster game between the tackles.
Lewis was his elusive self but then showed great power for such a diminutive back getting a lot of yards after contact. Lewis has great vision and once in the hole, he has the quickness and speed to make defenders miss along with his eel-like moves.
The Patriots ground game overall had its best day of the year, grinding out 200 yards on the ground. They officially ended up with 196 but four Brady kneel downs took off four yards. Overall it was a very, good day for the running game. Rex Burkhead added 50 yards on 13 carries. The team averaged 5.2 yards per rush.
Sloppy affair for the Offense: While the Patriots racked up another 400+ yard game and 35 points they were definitely sloppy at times, especially in the second half on offense. In the first half, Ted Karras snapped the ball before Tom Brady was set and he never saw it. The ball skipped by him and although he dove for it, (unlike Superman), it was scooped up nicely by Rashad Jones and run in for a score.
Brady bobbled another snap and the result was a sack by Cameron Wake. Forget about blaming that on Cameron Fleming. That was on Brady all the way. He gets rid of that ball had he not bobbled the snap
He also threw an interception of a very poor decision of trying to squeeze the ball into too tight a window. The pass protection today wasn’t good and Brady was hit hard several times, including a few that straddled the line between clean and dirty where Miami was doing things Miami always does. However, (comma)…
Brady Throws Four TDs for the 28th Time in His HOF Career: While he only threw for 227 yards, don’t be fooled by that number, Brady was having great success with throwing the ball today and his favorite target was Rob Gronkowski. Brady ended up completing 18-28 for 227 yards with 4 touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 114.1.
Gronkowski caught five passes for 82 yards and two big touchdowns on eight targets. The Dolphins had no one that would match up with him inside. Brandin Cooks had another big game catching six passes for 83 yards and a score on seven targets. He then rode Gronkowski like a racehorse in a bizarre end zone celebration. Despite the Dolphins pressure, the Patriots had vast chunks of real estate open downfield and one had the feeling that was there whenever Josh McDaniels wanted to go back there. But they were content with grinding it out in the second half. The offense in the red zone today was 5-5, so it doesn’t get much better than that.
Defense Steps up Nicely Again: For the seventh game in a row, the defense allowed 17 points or less. In actuality, the Dolphins offense scored just 10 points. The other seven coming off of the bad snap by Karras. Miami had just 221 yards of total offense. That is a far cry from the early season doldrums where they were giving up more than 400 yards per game.
The secondary play was tight. Without the benefit of a film review yet, a look at the numbers for Miami shows the Patriots corners were playing tight coverage. Stephon Gilmore was locked up with DeVante Parker all day and the Dolphins WR had just one catch for five yards. Gilmore had a huge interception in the end zone to snuff out a drive at the end of the first half and should have had another with less than two minutes to go. He had perfect position to pick it off but Duron Harmon came in and snatched the ball away from his hands.
Kenny Stills had just three catches for 47 yards, all in the second half as he and Malcolm Butler were tied up and competing hard all day. Most of the damage the Dolphins did was with Jarvis Landry who had eight catches. Julius Thomas ended up with five catches for 52 yards but was a total non-factor. All of his catches came in garbage time.
The defense held Miami to just 2 for 11 on third down. And with a big lead, they got the pass rush going. Matt Moore threw for just 215 yards but only 154 net. The Patriots sacked him seven times for 61 yards. Even newcomer Eric Lee in his first NFL game had a sack and a QB hit. That was a nice confidence builder for the young player. Today was a good day for Matt Patricia’s defense. They did a decent job in the running game, played tight coverage and kept nearly everything in front of them in the passing game. Moore’s passer rating on the day was just 70.1.
Injuries Put a Damper on the Win: The Patriots entered the game pretty banged up and ended the game even more so. Six players were hurt during the game. Nate Ebner took a fake punt on the first drive and looked to suffer a serious leg injury after getting the first down.
Both Marquis and Trey Flowers (ribs) were hurt on the same play as they sacked Moore. Trevor Reilly had an awful collision on special teams and both he suffered a head injury, LaAdrian Waddle suffered a leg injury and Kyle Van Noy suffered a leg injury.
We’re on to Buffalo…
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2017 Patriots Season Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Danny Amendola Dion Lewis James White Miami Dolphins New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rob Gronkowski Tom Brady Trey Flowers