FOXBOROUGH – A quick look back at what transpired in the Patriots’ 38-7 victory over the Dolphins:
WHY DID THE PATRIOTS WIN?
While the Dolphins clearly didn’t come to play, you have to give a lot of credit to the Patriots’ defense, which only enhanced the Dolphins’ poor play. The run game was stellar as the Patriots shut down Ronnie Brown (2.3 average) and Ricky Williams (0.8). If you do that with quarterbacks the caliber of Chad Henne and Tyler Thigpen, you’re going to have an easy day. They combined to complete 43.2 percent of their passes. Combine the defense with an efficient showing of the offense, both throwing and running, and you have one really good day for the Patriots.
RB Danny Woodhead (concussion) left after his fumble and did not return. He got hit really hard so this is something to watch. But he seemed to be pretty active on the sideline after his helmet was taken away, so hopefully the week off will do him some good.
DL Myron Pryor (eye) left and did not return.
THREE THINGS (OUT OF A MILLION) TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT
1. Defensive pressure: Hard to tell if it was mostly because the Dolphins’ line didn’t show up, but the Patriots were able to get pressure all game with five sacks (two each from Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich), two more tackles for losses and eight quarterback hits. Eric Moore also continued to do some good things. A great way to finish the regular season.
2. Scoring defense: The Patriots may give up yards, but, boy, are they stingy with the points. Patriots finished eighth in the league, giving up 19.6 points per game. That’s something to hang your hat on and, when all is said and done, is all that really matters.
3. Young players gaining confidence: Whether it was Brian Hoyer, Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman or Taylor Price, a lot of younger Patriots got a chance to play a lot and play well. That will only help them should they be needed during the playoffs and beyond.
THREE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT
1. Ooh, a fumble: Actually, this is a good thing. Woodhead will obviously receive 40 lashes for daring to fumble the ball when he was concussed. It ended a streak of seven consecutive games without a turnover. So the streak came to an end. That’s probably a good thing. You’d rather have it now than in the playoffs.
That’s all I’ve got on pseudo bad stuff, so I’ll continue with some thumb’s up to Bill Belichick (first coach to get at least 14 wins in four separate seasons), Patriots offense (setting NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season – 10; eight straight games over 31 points), Patriots fans (8-0 home record), Edelman (franchise record 94-yard punt return), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (1,008 rushing yards), Rob Gronkowski (10 touchdowns), Patriots (finishing plus-28 in turnover differential) and Tom Brady (0.81 interception percentage, at least two TDs and zero interceptions in nine straight games).
Phew. I’m tired from just typing that.
We’ll see. But go rest up.