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Monday, October 28, 2013

Patriots Sleepwalk Through 1st Half, Kick Dolphins' Ass In The 2nd Half For 27-17 Win

Normally I try to leave the crappy clichés to television reporters and bad writers (not saying I'm taking home any Pulitzers these days) but what else can you say about the Patriots-Dolphins game this afternoon at Gillette Stadium then it was a tale of two halves? Miami (3-4 overall, 2-2 away) rolled out to a 17-3 halftime lead but New England (6-2 overall, 4-0 home) outscored them 24-0 in the second half on their way to a 27-17 victory.

This was a nice win for the Pats given the way they started plus the Bills and Jets also lost so they gained a game on all three AFC East "rivals." The bad news and this keeps happening way too much this season is that it looked like Sebastian Vollmer suffered a serious leg injury so he'll be out for the rest of the season.

Something is clearly wrong with Tom Brady's hand (not to make an excuse), you could see it was puffed up which explains why he's looked so average for most of this season but particularly the last few weeks. Today he went 13 of 22 for 116 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. It was a day for role players as Aaron Dobson (4 catches, 60 yards), Brandon Bolden and Steven Ridley (14 carries, 78 yards) had the touchdowns for the Patriots.

The Patriots defense forced three turnovers, granted one was in garbage time on an interception by rookie Duron Harmon, but Marquice Cole had a pretty interception after Devin McCourty tipped it inbounds to him and Rob Ninkovich recovered a fumble. Also, Chandler Jones (1 sack) blocked a field goal and Chris Jones (7 tackles, 3 solo, 1 sacks, 2 tackles for loss) continued to play very well in the middle of the defensive line-he looks like a great undrafted rookie free agent signing (they got him on September 11).

The Dolphins played like a team that has now lost four games in a row after a 3-0 start and now laughable talks of challenging the Patriots for the AFC East crown. Ryan Tannehill is ok (22 of 42 for 192 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions) but they don't use his athleticism and mobility enough. He's not a great passer which makes sense since he played wide receiver for most of his time at Texas A&M. They also lack playmakers on offense, throwing money at Mike Wallace (3 catches, 41 yards) predictably has backfired although Lamar Miller (89 yards rushing, 23 yards receiving) seems like a keeper at running back.

Miami's basic offense of rolling Tannehill out worked in the beginning as Brandon Gibson caught a 4-yard touchdown in the first quarter (before he left with a knee injury) then Daniel Thomas caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Stephen Gostkowski finally gave the Patriots some points with a 34-yard field goal but the Dolphins had all the momentum after Caleb Sturgis' 52-yard field goal with 30 seconds left in the first half.

Dobson caught a 14-yard touchdown from Brady after a great move then Logan Ryan (5 tackles, 2 sacks, pass deflected) forced the fumble recovered by Ninkovich at Miami's 13. Three plays later, Bolden ran for a 2-yard touchdown and New England never looked back from there. Gostkowski's 48-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the third quarter handed them their first lead at 20-17 and then Ridley's 7-yard touchdown run in the fourth put it out of reach for the Dolphins.

Nothing is a given for the Patriots this season with all their injuries and obvious struggles but they get a gift by hosting the Steelers (2-5, 4th in AFC North) next Sunday (4:25, CBS). Pittsburgh is so bad that they lost at Oakland this afternoon (21-18) and their season is going nowhere fast.

UPDATE 10/28: Vollmer has reportedly had surgery today on his broken leg, his timetable to return is unknown.

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