Rob Gronkowski may be underappreciated in New England.
In the Patriots’ 36-7 win over the Dolphins Thursday, the tight end totaled 113 yards and a touchdown. Yet, no one could stop talking about Dion Lewis.
The 5-foot-8 running back missed Week 7 due to an abdomen injury, but returned to the field Thursday night with 112 yards from scrimmage and a receiving touchdown. And it appeared as if tectonic plates shifted under the Dolphins players’ feet as they tried to tackle Lewis, whose light-speed change of direction left defenders on their butts.
Gronk banged and pounded away with solid volume (six catches) and great production. But Lewis is the Patriots’ flashy, new offensive toy, and it seems like Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels love using him.
As the Patriots offense added up points, the Dolphins’ offense, which had broken records for explosive plays a week earlier, dissapeared. Ryan Tannehill looked discombobulated, as the Patriots rolled onto 7-0.
1. Tom Brady — Brady flirts with football perfection on a nightly basis. He finished with 356 passing yards and four touchdowns.
2. Dion Lewis — On a 3rd-and-16 in the first quarter, Lewis got a 17-yard reception. On a 3rd-and-7 in the second quarter, he picked up 12 yards. In so many ways, he gives the offense just what it needs.
3. Rob Gronkowksi — The offensive focal point continues to produce when teams make it their priority to stop him. His best highlight of the night, however, was a throwback video, where he got the best of a pinata.
4. Chandler Jones — Jones is on pace for 19 sacks this season. Ndamukong Suh, take notes.
5. Julian Edelman — It was almost a quiet night for Edelman — until the receiver caught two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
6. Logan Ryan — Few players are in the right place at the right time as often as Ryan, who picked up his 10th career interception in his 39th game.
7. Duron Harmon — Harmon’s fourth-quarter interception was an explosion of athleticism. The third-year safety also broke up a would-be Jarvis Landry touchdown in the fourth quarter.
8. Dont’a Hightower — It seems Jamie Collins and Hightower take turns being the Patriots’ defensive everyman. According to NESN.com, Hightower finished with a sack, five pressures, and four QB hits. He also had a pass breakup, three tackles, and allowed three receptions for 12 yards.
9. Rob Ninkovich — The veteran defensive end finished with two tackles, a 10-yard sack, and he drew a holding penalty on a 3rd-and-1 in the first quarter.
10. Phil Simms — The broacaster expressed the sheer helplessness of the Dolphins’ offensive unit on Thursday.
First round draft picks in the Bill Belichick era