Well that sucked. The Patriots went into Miami yesterday with an opportunity to lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs, IF they won. But Pats looked flat on both sides of the ball and looked terrible in a 20-10 loss to the Dolphins
New England’s offense continued to struggle, as it has for the last month or so. Josh McDaniels tried to get the running game early and often, with carries from Steven Jackson and Brandon Bolden, with little to no effectiveness. The offense could only muster 70 yards rushing on 27 total carries, averaging just 2.6 yards per carry. Jackson would find the end zone on a two yard carry, but only had 35 yards on 14 carries. The ground game has been awful all season, and the fact that they could only muster 70 yards on the 28th ranked run defense in the league isn’t too promising heading into the playoffs.
With no help from his run game, the game had to fall on Brady’s shoulders. Unfortunately, Brady didn’t look too comfortable all game. He was just 12/21 with 134 yards and no touchdowns for the first time all season. In my opinion, he didn’t get into much of a groove in part of the play calling by Josh McDaniels, who only had Brady drop back to pass five times in the first half, the least amount in a half in his career.
When Brady dropped back to pass, the offensive line was about as bad as it could get. Brady got sacked twice and was hit six more times. He was consistently pressured all day long by the likes of Ndomukong Suh and Olivier Vernon, including an ugly low hit from Suh that made my heart skip a couple of beats.
During the course of this game, I texted the group chat for this blog and said that this is a game Brady where it’s not worth the risk of him getting hurt. This game was just about meaningless, because getting, and keeping, bodies healthy should have been the supreme goal for this week. And following the hit above, Brady limped off the field and had to get taped up on the sidelines. After the game, Brady was still limping following his press conference after the game. Suh and Vernon have both been suspended in the past for hits on quarterbacks. Vernon was suspended earlier this season for hits on Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota.
The lone highlight in the passing attack was a 68 yard catch and run by James White. Unfortunately for White, he ran out of gas around the 10 yard line and failed to score. Pro-Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski had a very quiet day, with just two catches for 17 yards on seven targets.
Heading into the playoffs, the offensive line needs to serious work. Brady is the franchise, and to keep allowing him to get hit as often as he is, is frankly unacceptable. Having an extra week of work with the bye is huge, and you better bet your bottom dollar that Bill will spend a little extra time with his O-Line.
Even Stephen Gostkowski played bad, missing a field goal.
With the offense sputtering all day, the Patriots defense needed to step up big, and boy did they disappoint. The defense only allowed 20 points, but also allowed just under 450 yards of offense to the Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill had all day to throw every time he dropped back to pass. Tannehill tore the Pats secondary apart with 350 passing yards and two touchdowns. Dolphins receivers DeVante Parker, Greg Jennings and Jarvis Landry were all able to find seams in the defense consistently, with Parker going for over 100 yards and a touchdown.
The defense was without Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, but it’s still disappointing .
Rookie Geneo Grissom recorded the only sack on the day, his first career NFL sack. Devin McCourty, albeit at less than 100%, looked terrible, as did Patrick Chung. McCourty was beat badly on Parker’s touchdown grab and was found out of position on multiple plays. Pro-Bowler Malcolm Butler played well, but it didn’t help too much. The key for the Patriots defense is to get to the quarterback to give relief to the secondary, but with the pass rush doing nothing today, the secondary was exposed.
The run defense didn’t play too bad. Lamar Miller was held in check outside of a 29 yard run, but was still helped to just 60 yards on 19 carries. However, they allowed a big third down run from Ryan Tannehill that kept a Dolphins drive alive down the stretch in crunch time.
The Pats can never win in Miami and today was no different. This game was an eyesore from beginning to end. But before everyone writes this team off, listen to this. This team has been injured all season, with a key player seemingly going down every single week. A week to get healthy is invaluable for this team. An extra week to work on the offensive line and find a front five to keep Brady upright is also huge. The extra week to work out the kinks in the offense that have been seen the last two months is another major key. I get the Pats have lost four out of the last six, but remember last year when everyone counted this team out? They won the Super Bowl. You can NEVER count out a Brady or Belichick team, ever. I don’t care about home field as much as I care about everyone getting healthy, and if I were a gambling man, the Pats would still be my favorite to come out of the AFC.
Gif via TheBigLead
Picture via Bleacher Report