“‘Tom, 24/40 238yds 1 TD 1 INT and 4 sacks isn’t very Brady-like now is it?”
For those of you in a hurry I’ll give you the twitter-ized version: They (NE) have Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez and we (MIA) don’t. Miami loses to the Patriots 23-16. That’s all you need to know in 140 characters or less.
I’ll keep going for those of you who’d like to know more. I watched every single snap of the Miami-New England game. Some multiple times. On every play I asked myself, “Who more accomplished their goal during that play?” and assigned a winner based solely on that criteria.
For the game, the Patriots won 89 of 167 plays, or 53% of them.
Miami shot themselves in the foot early. After receiving the ball to start the game they couldn’t even execute something as simple as a ” 3 and out” on offense. The punter Brandon Fields couldn’t handle the low snap and New England took over first and 10 from Miami’s 12.
A touchdown run by Ridley ensued. 7-0 Patriots.
On the Patriots next possession the Dolphins did a nice job of playing a “bend but don’t break” style of defense which kept this game reasonably close all day. Aided by a holding penalty and some well-timed 3rd down pressure on Brady, Miami held New England to zero points after Gostkowski missed a 49 yard FG.
Miami got the ball at midfield but failed to do anything with it and is forced to punt. On second down, Tannehill overthrew a wide open Brian Hartline. It would have been a touchdown had it been completed. This was the first of two occasions in which Tannehill showed that he struggles to hit wide open receivers.
Miami pins New England inside their own 3 and three plays later #20 Jones does a great job of covering #81 Hernandez. He picked Brady off it off and took s it to the house! BUT…FLAG. Two of them actually. Off-setting and on the return. Miami keeps the ball but loses the touchdown.
The Miami penalty hurts them. They wind up trading seven for three when all they can muster is a 44 yard Dan Carpenter FG. And are lucky to get that because #33 D Thomas put the ball on the ground but #68 Incognito bailed him out and RG John Jerry got flagged for holding. 7-3 Patriots.
END of the 1st QUARTER
On the opening drive of the 2nd quarter Miami committed their second special teams turnover of the game. On 3rd & short Miami goes all out for the punt block, missed the ball but nail the punter, 15yd personal foul, 1st down Patriots. Awful job out of #27 Jimmy Wilson on the play. That can not happen.
After a soft pass interference penalty on #2o Jones and some missed tackles by #25 ( I don’t know who he is and don’t feel the need to look it up) and #58 Dansby, on 2nd & G from the Miami 7 #12 Brady makes the perfect adjustment at the line and hits #83 Welker on a screen for an easy touchdown.
14-3 Patriots and there is a lot of time left for this game to get out of hand.
Miami gets the ball and it gets worse. The offense goes nowhere on 1st and 2nd down. Then on 3rd & 4 the Patriots backup LB #99 Trevor Scott dominated Miami backup (Jake Long left early with a triceps injury and did not return) T #75 Nate Garner and gets the ever valuable sack-fumble on Tannehill which Wilfork recovers (and promptly gives to Mrs. Wilfork).
Miami does a good job of holding The Pats to a field goal. Its 17-3 Miami and not looking good.
Miami takes over 1st & 10 at their own 20. HOLDING #80 Fasano. 1st & 20 at their own 10. This is starting to get ugly.
FALSE START #82 Hartline. 1st & 25 at their own 5. It’s going from bad to worse with way too much time on the clock. It looked like things were about to get ugly…
Only they didn’t.
From there, Miami goes on an impressive 13 play 95 yard drive which ends with #17 Tannehill calling his own number and diving into the end zone off a nice play fake. TOUCHDOWN!
17-10 Patriots. We got a game folks.
On the drive Miami “won” 10/13 plays and had nice individual efforts by Fasano, Hartline and Bess picking up critical yards to keep the drive alive and by #68 Incognito and #51 Pouncey paving the way for them.
New England takes a knee to end the half. They go into the locker room with a seven point lead but the game very much still in doubt.
New England gets the ball to start the 3rd quarter but goes three and out. On 3rd & 3 #55 Misi gave a superior effort by taking on not one but two blocks to set the edge and force NE to punt.
For the rest of the 3rd quarter Miami and New England trade punts. On a critical 3rd down #91 Wake got his 10th sack of the year which knocked Brady and the Patriots out of field goal range. And on a just as critical 3rd & 14 for Miami #15 Bess turned what looked to be a sure 1st down into punt.
I don’t know what #15’s problem is but I am not impressed with him at all. I have never seen a WR who catches the ball on 3rd down short of the sticks more often than he does. It’s like he is allergic to first downs. Between the drops, not being on the same page as his QB and plays like this which are all too frequent, I’m done with him.
3rd quarter ends with New England leading 17-10 but deep in Dolphin territory with a 3rd & 1.
Which NE’s #81 Aaron Hernandez converts. Only fitting, he had the catch on 2nd down to set up 3rd and short then he finished it.
Trouble. NE has it 1st & G from the 2.
But wait. Again, bend but don’t break. Sacks by #20 Jones and #55 Misi book ending a 2nd down Welker drop in the end zone (nice pressure by #98 Odrick may have played a part in that) and all of a sudden the Pats have to settle for a FG.
20-10 New England and if you believe in moral victories, Miami’s defense just scored a huge on there.
Miami gets the ball on their own 20 and goes on another impressive 13 play drive which ended in points. Unfortunately they have to settle for a field goal after their own trip to the red zone.
But it is another drive where Miami left points on the board. On the third play of the drive, from their own 33, Tannehill severely under-throws a wide open #82 Hartline on another play which could have easily ended with a touchdown instead of an incomplete pass.
The drive was highlighted by a tough 4th & 1 conversion by #33 Thomas on the NE 22. #68 Incognito basically won the play himself by flat-out dominating Patriots’ all-world DT #75 Vince Wilfork.
With 8:28 remaining Patriots 20 Miami 13 and the Dolphins have all three of their timeouts. It’s official, game on.
But, being the savvy veteran team they are, led by the mad scientist Bill Beli-cheat himself, New England gets the ball and all but ends the game.
They take over on their own 20 and march down the field on a 16 play drive that ends in a field goal which makes it a two score game but more importantly they strangled 7:18 from the clock and ate up all three of Miami’s timeouts AND the two-minute warning.
With only 70 seconds remaining, Patriots lead 23-13 and a two score game means Miami chances of winning are all but over. But they do make it interesting until the bitter end with two big “chunk” yards completions to the sidelines. They muster a FG to make it 23-16 and ensure they at least cover the spread as a 9pt underdog but that’s all. New England easily recovered the onside kick attempt, game over.
It was a loss, a tough one at that but there were some positive things to come of it.
For Miami #55, #96 and #20 all had exceptional games to lead the defense. I thought the Incognito-Wilfork battle was pretty even and very fun to watch. Wilfork dominated early but Incognito did a nice job of battling back and did some dominating of his own. The Patriots entered the game having given up only 15 sacks on the year and the Miami defense got to Brady a season high four times.
Click to watch the full game highlights here.