Patriots Shut Dolphins Down, Cruise to Seventh Straight Win
The New England Patriots steamrolled the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night, winning the divisional match up 36-7 at Gillette Stadium.
Here are some final thoughts on New England's lopsided win:
Still Undefeated-The win moved New England to 7-0 on the season. Its going to take some team's absolute best shot and New England's worst effort to break this team's stride.
Handling The Division- The win also improved the Patriots' divisional standing to 3-0 as they've knocked off all three AFC East opponents, in convincing fashion.
Brady Can't Be Stopped- Pats quarterback Tom Brady picked apart the Miami defense all night long, with relative ease. Brady completed 26 of 38 pass attempts for 356 yards and four touchdowns. He also finished the game with a passer rating of 133.2.
Owning Miami- Brady's 356 passing yards marked the seventh time he's gone for at least 300 yards against the Dolphins. That leads all quarterbacks to suit up against Miami.
Battle Of The Lines- Coming into the game, many people thought that Miami's best chance to thwart the Patriot offense was with their skilled defensive line. While Miami's front did sack Brady twice, the Patriot offensive line was more than up to the task of silencing Miami's pass rush. They continually gave Brady time to pass and also opened up plenty of holes for running back LaGarrette Blount to carry the ball for 72 yards on 17 rushes.
Sack Party- The Patriot front seven played well again, as they continually got pressure on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In the first half, defensive end Chandler Jones sacked Tannehill twice and in the second half his friends joined the party. New England's other starting defensive end Rob Ninkovich and linebacker Dont'a Hightower each had a second half sack, while safety Devin McCourty joined the big boys up front for a sack of his own, late in the fourth quarter. All in all the Pats notched five sacks for a loss of 45 yards.
Usual Suspects- It was the usual cast of characters making a bulk of the plays for New England in the passing game, as Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Dion Lewis caught 19 of the 26 passes snagged by Patriot receivers. Edelman led the way with seven receptions for 81 yards and two scores. Gronkowski and Lewis each chipped in with six catches and a touchdown apiece. The big tight end had 113 receiving yards while the shifty back had 93 yards through the air.
Edelman's Equalizer- With the two touchdown receptions tonight, Edelman tied his previous career high for touchdowns with six. He's got nine more games to set a new mark. Seems safe to say that will undoubtedly happen.
Record Books- With a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter, Patriot kicker Stephen Gostkowski set the record for the longest streak of successful field goal attempts for New England at 26. Gostkowski, who was awarded AFC special teams player of the week honors for last week has been absolutely automatic in a season that has seen many kickers struggle, league-wide.
O Line Injury- The Patriots, who entered tonight's action with just six offensive linemen dressed for the second straight week, lost another player along the interior tonight. Rookie guard Tre' Jackson left tonight's win in the third quarter with a leg injury after apparently being run into by a Miami defender. Jackson didn't return, leaving the Patriots with no back up lineman for the last quarter. Hopefully the injury is not serious, as the team has lost a few guys on the line already this year. The good news is that rookie Shaq Mason will most likely be back next week as he has been practicing the last few days. Also next week marks the first time this season that second year center Bryan Stork will be eligible to return from short term IR. Adding Stork could allow the Patriots to give rookie center David Andrews, who has played ever snap this season, a chance to add more depth at the guard position if needed.
Pats Take The Ball Away- The Patriots won the turnover battle again tonight, picking off Tannehill twice. The first pick was made by Logan Ryan, while Duron Harmon, who has played very well this season, made a tremendous diving play for the team's second interception. Both Ryan and Harmon each have three picks so far on the season.
All in all, in a very short week, the Patriots proved that quality football can be played on Thursday night. Most of these Thursday games look sloppy because the teams simply have such little time to rest from the prior week and prepare. New England showed little to no rust however, handling the Dolphins all night long and putting up 36 points with much push back. The Patriots are cruising through the league with such ease, that it almost looks unfair. They'll be back at it next Sunday at 1 pm, as they host the Washington Redskins.
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