Patriots Vs. Dolphins First Half Thoughts
As the New England Patriots head to halftime of their Week 12 divisional battle with the Miami Dolphins with a 21-10 lead, here are some first half thoughts:
An Unusual Start- The game started in a rather unusual manner for the Pats. After receiving the opening kick, New England went three-and-out, but utilized core special teamer Nate Ebner in a fake punt. Ebner, working as the punt protector, received the direct snap and took off down the right sideline for a pick up of 14 on fourth and eight. From there, the Pats rattled off four plays to pick up 59 yards and a score. The fake punt was the team's first such play since the 2004 season.
Back To Normal- The team's second drive got things back to normal, as they marched the ball 83 yards down the field on nine plays for a second score. The drive showed off the solid combination of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. The duo hooked up for three catches for 46 yards, including a 5-yard score in which Gronkowski bullied the defensive back who was in coverage on him.
Gronk & Cooks- Brady completed at least one pass to eight different receivers, while going 14 of 20 for 183 yards and a pair of socres in the first half, though he seemed to rely heavily on Gronkowksi and wide out Brandin Cooks. Gronkowski and Cooks each caught four first half balls from the 40-year-old. Cooks' four catches went for 56 yards, while Gronk's went for a team-high 67 yards including a score.
Fill In Follies- Backup lineman Ted Karras got his second start at center today, filling in for ill starter David Andrews. After a solid performance in his first start last week and a quality beginning to Sunday's game, Karras had his first fill in folly, snapping the ball while Brady was still calling out a play. The ball proceed to sail clear past Brady and was ultimately scooped up by a Miami defender and walked into the end zone for the Dolphins' only touchdown of the half. Karras got an earful from line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who appeared to be none to pleased with the miscommunication and subsequent turnover.
Something You Just Can't Predict- The first half further enforced why sports are something you just can't predict. Heading into the game, we noted how the Pats had such an impressive turnover differential, while the Dolphins have been very poor in that category so far this season. It was expected that those facts would impact the game, but it's actually been the reverse so far. The Pats have, surprisingly enough, turned the ball over twice, while the Dolphins have been able to keep possession. The two turnovers led to seven points for Miami, but it could have been more. The Pats did bail out Brady, who threw a pick late in the second quarter, by picking off Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore in the end zone with under 10 seconds on the clock.
Solid Defense- The New England defense has been solid again Sunday, holding the Miami offense to just three points in two red zone trips. While the Pats have allowed the Dolphins to move the ball a bit, they have held them to just 1-5 on third down and to a measly 4.1 yards per play. They've also done a great job limiting the scoring. There is no better example of that than Stephon Gilmore's last second pick of Matt Moore in the end zone to end the half.
Gotta Be Careful- The Pats need to be careful and ready to keep Brady healthy, as the Dolphins have got a number of hits on the All-Pro quarterback already today. With each hit from the Miami defenders, New England's breathe is momentarily held.