FOXBOROUGH — Like the rest of the nation, Bill Belichick watched football over the holiday weekend. And with a game at Miami Sunday, the Patriots coach focused his attention on the Dolphins’ 24-21 home victory over the Seahawks, in particular the performance of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
“It was a good win for the Dolphins,” said Belichick, whose team seized control of the AFC East with a 49-19 romp over the Jets Thanksgiving night at MetLife Stadium to improve to 8-3. “We know what kind of team Seattle is, very good. Great effort by Miami in the fourth quarter at the end of the game to come back and make the plays they needed to make to win it.’’
Tannehill, a first-round pick (eighth overall) from Texas A&M, rallied the Dolphins to 17 fourth-quarter points against the Seahawks. With the game tied at 21, and 92 seconds remaining, Tannehill drove his team 65 yards in six plays to set up a winning 43-yard field goal by Dan Carpenter.
“He played good for them,’’ Patriots safety Steve Gregory said of Tannehill, who has completed 197 of 334 passes for 2,373 yards, 7 TDs, and 12 interceptions. “He’s a smart football player. He can throw the ball really well and he can move around in the pocket, so we definitely have some challenges.’’
Belichick was impressed by what he saw of Tannehill against the Seahawks, a team that pinned the Patriots with a 24-23 setback in Seattle Oct. 14. It was the last time the Patriots lost; they’ve won five in a row, a streak that began with a 29-26 overtime triumph against the Jets Oct. 21.
With his team trailing, 14-7, in the fourth quarter Sunday, Tannehill completed 7 of 9 passes for 156 yards to record the first fourth-quarter comeback of his nascent NFL career.
“He’s shown a lot of poise throughout the whole season,’’ Belichick said of Tannehill, who passed for 253 yards and 1 TD to go with 1 INT against the Seahawks. “With Coach [Mike] Sherman there [as Miami’s offensive coordinator], there’s, I’m sure, good chemistry there and a good relationship and some carryover into what they’ve done in the past when he was with him at Texas A&M relative to reads or ‘check-with-mes,’ or offensive packages that they use, however they do it.
“It looks like there’s a good level of comfort there. They’re certainly not afraid to put the ball in his hands in critical situations and he’s done a good job of delivering for them. [He’s] done a good job with that team; he’s a good player.’’
Gregory said his 32-yard fumble return, which was part of a 35-point eruption in the second quarter of Thursday night’s romp over the Jets, was not his first NFL touchdown, only his first with the Patriots. “I had a pick-6 against Buffalo last year,’’ said Gregory, who was with the Chargers at the time.
Asked if he had yet to come down from the high of his impressive night, which included an interception, a forced fumble, and another fumble recovery, Gregory said, “Oh yeah. We enjoyed it, but obviously we’re moving on here and all our focus is on Miami.
“It’s going to be another big game, a big test. We enjoyed that one [against the Jets], but we’ve definitely moved on.’’
Dolphins cornerback Jonathon Amaya, 23, was arrested early Monday morning by Miami Beach Police and charged with assault for allegedly choking a taxi cab driver.
According to a police report, Amaya, a third-year player out of Nevada who plays mostly on special teams, offered the taxi driver $100 to ferry him from Miami Beach to Weston, Fla. But when the player became aggressive, the driver turned the cab around and asked Amaya to get out of the car, at which point the player leaned forward and began to choke the driver.
Police saw the taxi driving in an erratic manner and stopped the driver, who screamed, “This man is trying to kill me.’’ Police arrested Amaya. The driver was not injured.
Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene said the team was aware of the situation and was in the process of gathering more information.
Left tackle Nate Solder recalled last year’s season opener at Miami as his indoctrination into the NFL. Solder, then a rookie from the University of Colorado, drew rave reviews from ESPN analyst Jon Gruden for the way he seemed to make Dolphins veteran end Cameron Wake disappear. “It didn’t feel like it,’’ Solder said, breaking into a laugh. Asked what he recalled of his Patriots debut, Solder said, “He was just quick off the ball. He plays hard and works to the end of the play. He’s certainly a good player. He’s a great edge rusher, both him and [Jared] Odrick. They’ll give us a great challenge. Their backers are really good, too, and certainly their inside guys are good, so it’s going to be a challenge for us.’’ . . . At this time a year ago, Alfonzo Dennard would have wrapped up his season at the University of Nebraska. But the cornerback, who was a seventh-round draft pick, said he had yet to hit the proverbial rookie wall entering Week 13 of the season. “I’m not sure when it’s going to come, but it hasn’t hit yet,’’ he said . . . The Patriots recorded their highest Thanksgiving Day television rating in franchise history with a 35.2 for Thursday night’s romp. The previous mark was a 25.24 in a 2010 victory over the Lions. This year’s game also received a share of 61, meaning an average of 61 percent of all televisions in the Boston market were tuned in. Among the six teams that played on Thanksgiving, the Patriots had the highest TV rating in their market.