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MORSE: Observations From Patriots’ Week 17 Victory Over Dolphins

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
January 2, 2023 at 10:41 am ET

MORSE: Observations From Patriots’ Week 17 Victory Over Dolphins(PHOTO: Jan 1, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton (11) makes the touchdown against Miami Dolphins cornerback Noah Igbinoghene (9) in the first quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

Sunday’s win over the Miami Dolphins was as satisfying a win as the Patriots have given us this year.  The Defense came up big again.  The Dolphins dominated the time of possession in the 1st half but the score ended tied at the half.

The Defense had their 7th return for a TD.  It was Kyle Dugger’s 3rd of the season.  He is becoming the player I thought he would be when the Pats drafted him.   I loved the trade back to get Dugger and that was the only way the Patriots would have a shot at getting him.  Wasn’t sure that Belichick would trade back for, and also select a Division II player.

  • The Defense stood tall.  They held Waddle to 3-52 and Hill to 4-55. That was Jonathan Jones and Myles Bryant.  Even Practice Squad call-ups Quandre Mosley and Tae Hayes got involved.  Mosely was on the field for the Dugger pick-six.  Mosely switched from CB to Safety on that play.
  • Credit has to go to Defensive coaches Steve Belichick, Jerod May, CB coach Mike Pellegrino and Safety coach Brian Belichick.  Hayes had two tackles
  • The four safeties Defense set a new team record for TDs in a season (7). The Patriots also lead the league with 18 interceptions.
  • The Dolphins’ injuries really hurt them. LT Terron Armstead, LB Bradley Chubb, and all-world CB Xavien Howard being out really hurt.   It appeared that Bridgewater wasn’t waiting around for the receivers to get open.  He was unloading the ball because he didn’t trust backup tackle Greg Little to hold up against the Uche / Judon pressure.  Bridgewater going out in the 3rd quarter and Kendall Lamm in the 2nd.   Lamm was on the Practice Squad two weeks ago.  I didn’t even have Lamm on the roster in my Preview.
  • Teddy Bridgewater missed quite a few open receivers.
  • Tyquan Thornton showed up with 3 catches for 60 yards and a TD. He had nice footwork on the sideline and nearly had a second but stepped out of the endzone.
  • Patriots picked on former Patriot Keon Crossen who replaced Howard.
  • Barmore stood tall by getting two sacks, the second caused by the Uche and Judon pressure Skylar Thompson. Barmore cleaned up when they forced Thompson to step up, right into Barmore’s arms.  We should not have given up a TD to Thompson late.
  • Jones picked up the Dolphins’ blitz often by throwing the ball up there and letting the receivers run under it. The Dolphins played a lot of man coverage and Jones burned them.
  • Michael Palardy is flat-out awful as a punter and needs to go. He had a 42.4 average but his net was in the 30s.
  • This was not Mac Jones’s finest game. Matt Patricia gave him a cookie to start the game with a swing pass.  He screwed that up.  A couple of times he should have thrown the ball away rather than taken a sack.   He finished well going 20 of 33 for 203 yards and a 98.4 rating.  He had 2 TDs and no Interceptions.
  • Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater played in perhaps the last games of their careers at Gillette. McCourty dropped a sure interception.  They have both enjoyed long and terrific careers with the Pats.  Both are Captains and great leaders as well as active philanthropists in the community.  Slater is also the spiritual leader of the team.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see Slater stay with the organization in some aspect.
  • Penalties played a big part in this game. Miami had 9 – 71 yards.  Several were pass interference/defensive holding.  The Patriots cut down on penalties 6 – 39 yards.  A Brenden Schooler running into the kicker penalty prolonged a Phins drive that eventually led to their 1st TD.
  • The Patriots’ defensive plan is what I predicted. Shut down the running game and make the Dolphins one-dimensional.  Miami ran 18 times in the 1st half for 59 yards and a 3.28 average.  That included a 6-yard scramble by Bridgewater.  Mostert and Wilson averaged 10 carries apiece for a game for the season and nearly had that many in the 1st.   In the 2nd half, the Patriots made it more difficult and held them to 35 yards on 9 carries and a 4.00 average.  However, two of those were scrambles by Thompson for 11 and 4 yards.  That’s just 24 yards on 7 carries by the backs.  When Thompson came into the game with 2:36 left in the 3rd Quarter, with Miami trailing, ran only once more for 2 yards.   The official stats had the Dolphins running 27 times for 86 yards and a 3.2 average.  Shut Down!
  • There was still some questionable play calling by Matt Patricia, especially on the 4th down plays.  However, I liked the fact that he let Jones throw on early downs.  He opened the game with a little swing pass that Jones overthrew.  He tried and give him an easy play to build his confidence.  Jones is way too over-amped when he starts the game.
  • Why no Kendrick Bourne early in the game? Bourne jumps for a procedure penalty and is immediately yanked from the game.
  • Miami fumbled in the 1st.  Why was it called Forward Progress?  If anything it should have been ruled down by contact.  That could have been appealed and the replay would clearly show the ball was coming out before his knee touched down.  Compare that play to Stevenson’s against Cincinnati for forward progress!   Extremely inconsistent and unfair officiating.
  • Hunter Henry chipped in with 5 catches for 52 yards.
  • Nelson Agholor, had no catches, and only 1 target.
  • Penalties played a big part with Miani getting 9 for 72 yards and the Patriots 6-39 yards. The Brenden Schooler running into the punter prolonged the 1st Miami TD Drive.
  • Michael Palardy had a very bad day. His net kicking was under 40 yards.  He also didn’t have a punt downed inside the 20.
  • Matt Judon was a non-factor.  He had one tackle.  Miami was scheming for him, chipping him with a back or TE.

READ NEXT:
Five Thoughts on the Patriots’ Win Over the Dolphins

About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.


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