Chalk this one up in the “good win” column. With Monday night’s 41-14 drubbing of the Dolphins, the Patriots became the first team to score touchdown on the ground, through the air, on a kick return, a blocked punt and a blocked field goal in the same game. And why were they able to do that? Because they played with urgency.
This was an important game in the AFC East. With the New York Jets holding wins over New England, Miami and Buffalo, the Jets are in the driver’s seat in the division and whoever lost this game would have a very tough time digging out of the hole.
Now at 3-1 heading into the bye, the Patriots are in a comfortable position. The Jets still sit in front of them, but after a very encouraging outing by both the special teams and the defense, as well as the offense moving the ball when it needed to, the Patriots actually had Bill Belichick smiling and a week’s worth of rest could do wonders for the Patriots, especially its aching backfield.
New England gets a bit of a rest before having to take on Baltimore and San Diego in back-to-back weeks. It could be worse. It could be the Dolphins’ schedule upcoming.
The Dolphins take on three teams currently 3-1 in Chicago, Green Bay and Baltimore during a five-game stretch in which the opponents are a combined 13-7. So perhaps with that brutal schedule upcoming, this game actually meant a little bit more to the Dolphins.
As for the game itself, some would say the Dolphins beat themselves and in a lot of ways they did. But the difference between a good team and a mediocre one is the ability to capitalize on mistakes. Three of the big plays in the game – Patrick Chung’s punt block and field goal block and Rob Ninkovich’s second itnterception were flat out athletic plays. The two blocks led to points. The interception prevented points.
Tom Brady and the offense didn’t put up much in the way of stats, but they didn’t have to. But when they needed to put up points, they were able to do that, too. Remember that this game was not decided until late in the third quarter. Miami was within a touchdown of taking the lead after Ricky Williams scored on a 28-yard pass from Chad Henne, but the Patriots 12-play, 78-yard drive that took the Patriots 4:47 to march down the field and boost the advantage back up to 13 points.
Big plays got the Patriots a big win in a big spot. That’s what good teams take advantage of.