The first half was ugly.
It was ugly offensively. It was ugly defensively. It was ugly on special teams and coaching. It was so ugly this is all I will say about it.
The second half though was entirely different story as the New England Patriots rallied from 17 points down to defeat the pesky Miami Dolphins 27-24 Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro MA.
Some Patriots players had second half stats that would equal a good full game for most players in the NFL. I just hope heading into the playoffs this team doesn’t think they can turn it on when they need to. With a defense as bad as the one patrolling “The Razor” these days it’s the last thing they need.
They are built to build a lead and hope the prayers of Patriots fan everywhere pull them through to the victory.
The 17-point comeback is so unique in Patriots history in the Belichick/Brady era it was the first time all season they were behind by 17 points. They hadn’t been behind by 17 points since November 7, 2010 when they lost at Cleveland 34-14.
And more so they hadn’t overcome a deficit that large since 2002, that’s 9 years ago. The reason for this is they haven’t been behind by 17 many times in that time period.
The big keys to Saturday’s turnaround was the second half play of QB Tom Brady, who got his balls off of the turf as well as WR Wes Welker and WR Deion Branch who were manhandled by the Miami defenders most of the game finally being able to wiggle free. Rookie RB Stevan Ridley who is quickly becoming a favorite along with TE Aaron Hernandez and TE Rob Gronkowski, who proved once again, they are there when the going gets tough.
Brady actually ran for two TD’s and Branch caught one and K Stephen Gostkowski added a pair of field goals for the scoring.
Defensively DT Vince Wilfork continues to be the man in the middle. He along with LB Jerod Mayo may not be spectacular or pound their chests like players on other teams but in many ways they are better and they show it in the effort.
Just a shout out to Miami WR Brandon Marshall, that dude killed them, especially CB Devin McCourty nearly the entire game. Great game for a great player. He has the skills to be an all-time great and he sure is fun to watch regardless of what uniform he is wearing.
Next Sunday, New Years Day, New England hosts Buffalo in the regular season finale. They then will have a week off because they clinched a bye and they will start the AFC Playoffs the weekend of January 14-15 at home in Gillette Stadium.
Dolphins at Patriots Gamebook. This includes the box score, all the stats, play by play, drive charts and more.
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Turning Point(s) of the Game
Patriots DT Vince Wilfork recovered a Matt Moore fumble in the third quarter that led to New England’s first TD and turned the momentum of the game.
Offensive Player(s) of the Game
Patriots WR Wes Welker had 12 catches for 138 yards and broke Randy Moss’ team records for single season receiving yards.
Defensive Player(s) of the Game
Patriots LB Jerod Mayo had 13 tackles (4 solo), 2 sacks, 1 tackle for loss and 2 QB hits.
Starters for the Patriots were:
Inactives for the Game:
1. T Sebastian Vollmer (foot)
2. LB Brandon Spikes (MCL)
3. RB Shane Vereen (hamstring)
4. T Matt Light (ankle)
5. S Patrick Chung (foot)
6. DL Ron Brace
7. QB Ryan Mallett
1. TE Anthony Fasano (concussion)
2. G Ray Feigna
3. DT Ryan Baker
4. G/C Ryan Cook
5. T Will Barker
6. RB Steve Slaton
7. QB Pat Devlin
The spread (Patriots minus 10) WAS NOT covered. The over/under (48) WAS COVERED. I GAVE the points (Dolphins) and took the OVER. I am now 9-5-1 vs. the spread and 11 of 15 calling the under/over.
The Dolphins lead the all-time series 50-43. This includes 3 meetings in the playoffs (1982, 1985, 1997) with the Patriots holding a 2-1 post season edge.
New England is 52-15 against their AFC East Rivals since 2001.
The Patriots have won 14 of the last 19 games between the teams.
New England is 29-17 as the home team in the series including playoffs.
The Patriots swept Miami for the 2nd consecutive season.
New England has won 7 consecutive games after a 2 game losing streak. It is their longest win streak of the season.
Since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, New England is 73-15 at home including the playoffs and is 20-1 in December home games. Both are the best in the NFL in that time period.
Since 2001 The Patriots are 41-5 in December games, home or away, and have now had 7 undefeated Decembers.
Bill Belichick coached teams are 15-11 vs. Miami. Belichick is 15-9 as Patriots head coach and he was 0-2 as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns.
Belichick’s 189 wins are good for 9th all-time. Chuck Knox, who coached the Rams, Redskins and Seahawks, is 8th all-time with 193.
Tom Brady is now 14-6 vs. the Dolphins.
Brady’s 1 TD pass gives him 297 TD passes in his career he is now 6th all-time. Hall of Fame QB John Elway is 5th with 300.
Brady has 123 career wins he is 6th all-time. Fran Tarkenton is 5th with 124.
Brady dressed gingerly after the game seemingly favoring his left shoulder. He may have banged it up on the second TD “run”.
Brady had two rushing TD’s in a game for the first time in his professional career.
WR Wes Welker now has catches in 97 consecutive games including playoffs, 80 as a Patriot. The last time Welker did not have a catch in a game was 12/24/05 as a Dolphin.
Welker had 138 receiving yards to break Randy Moss’ team record of 1,493 set in 2007.
TE Rob Gronkowski had 78 yards receiving to break the team record of 1,174 by a TE set by Ben Coates in 1994.
Gronk needs just 72 yards receiving to set a NFL record for single season yards by a tight end that is held by the great Kellen Winslow Sr. with 1,290 yards in 1980.
New England was 8 of 17 (47%) on 3rd down and 1 of 1 (100%) on 4th down. Miami was 5 of 13 (38%) on 3rd down.
Dolphins were 3 for 3 in the red zone and 1 for 1 on goal to go efficiency while the Patriots were 3 for 4 in the red zone and 3 for 3 in goal to go efficiency.
The Patriots tied their season high of five sacks in a game Saturday. (5 at Pittsburgh and 5 at New York Jets).
After not having allowed a 100-yard rusher all season New England has allowed a back to get 100 yards or more in two of the last three weeks.
Earlier in the week we reported that LB Markell Carter was promoted from the practice squad that was incorrect.
Recently signed CB Vincent Fuller was released just days after the former Detroit Lion was signed due to an arm injury that wasn’t healed. The Patriots promoted DE Alex Silvestro and S Sterling Moore from the practice squad.
This was Miami’s 300th franchise loss.
The Dolphins are 17-29 as the road team in the series and 2-8 at Gillette Stadium.
Miami is 28-39 vs. the AFC East since 2001.
Miami interim head coach Todd Bowles is now 1-1 as a head coach in the NFL.
Dolphins QB Matt Moore is 0-2 vs. New England in his career. His previous start came as a member of the Carolina Panthers.
Moore was 17 of 33 for 294 yards, 3 TD passes and 1 INT and 1 lost fumble.
Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall had 156 yards on 7 catches, one of which was a TD.
Miami RB Reggie Bush had 113 yards on the ground on 22 carries.
Alberto Riveron was the game referee. The temp at kickoff was 30, sunny and cold with a wind chill of 23.
Game Attendance – 68,756 – Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA.
Post Game Interviews
This Week in the AFC East
Buffalo whipped Denver, 40-14
NY Giants downed the NY Jets, 29-14
AFC East Standings
The Patriots host the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA on Sunday, New Years Day. Kick off is at 1 p.m. on CBS. It is the regular season finale.
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Photo credit: Getty Images