The New England Patriots' passing game looked anemic for much of Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins, but, sparked by the defense and running game, it delivered some clutch plays that helped give New England the win.
Aaron Dobson led the Patriots in receiving against the Dolphins, picking up four catches for 60 yards and a big touchdown, New England's first third-quarter touchdown of the season. The second-round pick had just one drop and looks like he's starting to develop some chemistry with Tom Brady, along with some confidence.
However, Dobson was the only positive for the Patriots receiving corps.
Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola were supposed to provide a boost, but they combined for just five catches and 42 yards.
Gronkowski did have a touchdown called back on a holding call, but he was also the intended target when Brady's first pass of the game was picked off. Gronk's return continues to be up-and-down, as should be expected coming off multiple surgeries.
However, Brady didn't make the mistake of over-targeting Gronkowski like he did against the Jets. The Dolphins appeared ready for it, and that was likely what gave Dobson some favorable coverages to exploit.
Amendola had a drop that would've converted a 3rd-and-10, and Brady was clearly upset with him. Amendola looked great in the opener against the Bills, but since his injury he's failed to make much of an impact.
Both he and Gronkowski seem like they'll soon start clicking, but they were inconsistent at best in their first game playing together.
Kenbrell Thompkins appeared to have been passed by Austin Collie on the depth chart, though neither recorded a catch. Thompkins was only targeted once and appears to have fallen by the wayside after catching the game-winning touchdown against the Saints.
Taking a step back might do the undrafted Thompkins some good.
Julian Edelman has also faded since his hot start to the season, picking up just two catches for seven yards.
Despite the win, Tom Brady completed just 13 passes on the day and was sacked three times. The protection started off shaky in the first half but solidified in the second half, just enough for the Pats to put up some points.
Without the spark from the defense and running game, the Pats' passing offense might've never gotten on track.
The Patriots' passing game has shown little progress the last two weeks, but Dobson's emergence is a positive. He made a difficult catch in traffic going over the middle and has shown much improvement since September.
They certainly aren't the Patriots offense of 2010-2012, but they keep winning and buying themselves time to continue to develop. With just one more game and then the bye week, the Pats will be looking to take more badly needed strides.
With their injured weapons re-assimilating and Dobson emerging, things should be looking up, but the Pats are still waiting for everything to come together.
With six wins, they can afford to wait a little longer.
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