The Patriots improved to 9-2 against the Dolphins on Sunday but it wasn’t all perfect.
There were some great moments along with some not so great moments, and here’s a quick rundown of a few from both sides.
Tom Brady – While Brady was far from perfect, the fact he managed to have a pretty solid outing is impressive given the amount of punishment he took. While Miami recorded just one sack, they hit him officially eight times and there were likely others that didn’t make their way into the stat sheet from what it seemed like watching the game. However, despite the duress he was under, there were several plays where he escaped, gathered his feet, and made some terrific throws down the field to keep the chains moving. Despite everything, Brady still managed to throw four touchdowns against a tough Dolphins defense and while fans obviously expect him to play at a high level, seeing him do it against that type of pressure is still impressive.
Rob Gronkowski – With Martellus Bennett inactive for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, it was up to Gronkowski to carry the load and it’s safe to say he did about as well as could have been expected. He finished the afternoon with a solid effort, catching five passes for 82-yards including two touchdowns, including three plays of 20-yards or better. His first big play of 20-yards also moved him past Kellen Winslow into 10th place all-time in career receiving yards.
Jonathan Jones – Lost among some of the big plays on the afternoon was the play of Jonathan Jones, who quietly was the one of New England’s best performers against Miami. Jones finished Sunday’s game with 9 tackles as well as a sack, and also made a key fumble recovery in the third quarter after Danny Amendola took a hit after catching a punt and lost the football. Had Jones not made the recovery, it would have given the Dolphins the ball deep in Patriots territory and at 21-10 could have allowed Miami back into the game. But fortunately Jones came up with it and the Patriots went on to score a touchdown, increasing their lead to 28-10 which allowed them to stay in control of the game and keep the pressure on the Dolphins.
Elandon Roberts – Roberts had a solid outing on Sunday, finishing with two sacks and four tackles. Roberts showed off his speed on each of those sacks, tracking down Matt Moore from behind and making the tackle. This is a fun time of year where you tend to see players start to come into their own and hopefully we’ll see Roberts continue to grow heading into the final month of the season. With Dont’a Hightower sidelined and the injury suffered Sunday by Trey Flowers, the Patriots will need more players to step up on the defensive side of the ball and it would be great to see Roberts ultimately become more of an impact player. As a result, it was great to see him come up with a strong performance.
Trey Flowers – Flowers came up big on Sunday with forced fumble and two sacks of his own, with the turnover he forced halting a Dolphins drive where Miami had gotten to midfield. Flowers is a player who we’ve already started to see big things from but he suffered a reported rib injury that knocked him out of the game, leaving his status heading into next weekend against Buffalo in question. New England can’t quite seem to catch a break and hopefully the severity won’t be bad enough where if he’s forced to sit out, he won’t miss too much time.
Dion Lewis – Lewis certainly had one of the best games we’ve seen from him running the football, finishing the afternoon with 15 carries for 112 yards and averaging an impressive 7.5 yards per carry. Two of those carries went for 25-yards each, matching the second-highest run of the season by a Patriots running back, which Lewis set back in Week 7 against the Falcons when he rushed for 25-yards in the second quarter. He’s running the ball really well right now, and if the Patriots have success in the postseason, he may be the player who could ultimately end up being the reason if he continues to play like this.
Dion Lewis had a strong game Sunday against Miami
Ted Karras – Karras takes a little bit of heat in this game for making his first mistake since taking over at center, but unfortunately, it was a big one. With the Patriots leading 14-0, Karras snapped the ball early and the ball flew past Brady, who obviously wasn’t expecting it. Brady chased after it but wasn’t able to recover it and the Dolphins scooped it up and scored a touchdown, which at the time pulled Miami to within seven at 14-7. Fortunately, Karras put it behind him and there were no further miscues the rest of the way, but against better teams, those types of turnovers can obviously be a problem.
Danny Amendola – This wasn’t a terrible game by any means for Amendola, but the normally sure-handed receiver had a miscue that could have been costly. His muffed punt that as mentioned above could have been a tough one give the timing, but he was fortunately bailed out thanks to the recovery by Jones. The good news is, if ever there was a team to make this type of mistake against, the Dolphins are certainly it. Needless to say, it’s better to get this one out of the way now instead of in January or February, which is when bigger things will obviously be at stake.
Malcolm Butler – Butler had a tough day, although he falls into the category where despite his problems, he still made a couple of plays. He struggled in coverage all afternoon against Kenny Stills, including making a ill-timed defensive pass interference penalty that lead to a field goal for the Dolphins. The upside for Butler is the fact that even when he struggled, one of his best attributes is the fact he’s got a short memory and it doesn’t affect him down the line. Like Amendola, it’s better to have an off afternoon now than later on when it counts.
LeAdrian Waddle – Waddle struggled against Miami’s defense and was part of the problem behind the beating that Brady took on Sunday. Waddle faced a daunting challenge and it was a little disappointing that he didn’t handle it better. To make matters worse, Waddle was knocked out of the game by an injury and replaced by Cameron Fleming, who was immediately beaten for a sack.
In the end, the Patriots are now 9-2 and right where they want to be as they continue the challenge of trying to contend for a top seed. The rest of the road won’t be easy as the Patriots will now embark on a three game stretch away from Foxboro, which begins next week in Buffalo, followed by a trip to Miami and a showdown in Pittsburgh.
For now, it will be a long time before the Patriots play again at Gillette Stadium, with their next home game scheduled on Christmas Eve against the Bills.
Posted Under: 2017 Patriots Season