Well, that’ll teach us to expect a shootout!
To look at this a little more realistically, neither team has exactly been shut down offensively. Miami has run up 169 yards, and New England has 148 yards. But each defense has played well enough in spots to keep the score down. That, and each offense appears to be protecting its offense by going on long, drawn-out drives. Here’s some more of what we’re seeing …
1) The Patriots clearly have put the emphasis on stopping Brandon Marshall, bracketing him with a safety floating over the top of him on most snaps. And that’s opened things up underneath for the old Patriot killer Davone Bess, who has registered six catches for 71 yards and the Dolphins’ lone touchdown.
2) BenJarvus Green-Ellis has again been workmanlike, and is reading things well and taking what’s there. He was the key guy, really, on the Patriots’ 16-play field goal drive that stunted the Dolphins’ momentum, and though he has just 32 yards on his eight carries, he’s helping keep the Patriots in manageable down-and-distance situations and extending possessions. New England’s taking advantage of Miami on the edges of the defensive front.
3) The Patriots have struggled to contain Cameron Wake in pass-rush situations, and it’s been Sebastian Vollmer who’s been most victimized, though Matt Light was called for a hold on the Dolphins’ pressure specialist. On one two-play sequence, Wake sped past Vollmer to pressure Brady on one snap, and Vollmer missed his assignment (or that is, at least, what it looked like) and Wake buried Brady for a snap on the next.
4) Vince Wilfork seemed surly all week. And he’s been disruptive in the running game tonight, to say the least. The Patriots have also moved him around, playing him plenty at left defensive end over Miami right tackle Vernon Carey. That makes sense, because Miami figured to have an edge running outside with Carey and bookend Jake Long, so the move of Wilfork mitigates the issue a bit.
5) A couple of pretty impressive picks by Rob Ninkovich. He was shockingly deep in coverage on the first one (for him), and made a nice read to undercut Patrick Cobbs and dive for the second one. Both interceptions came just as Miami was building offensive momentum. Both huge, to say the least.