Patriots' Patrick Chung Harpoons The Dolphins: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Has Patriots' safety Patrick Chung joined the ranks of elite playmakers like Troy Polamalu and the injured Ed Reed?
Are Randy Moss' days of being a feared weapon over?
Is it time to stop calling linebacker Rob Ninkovich, "Stinkovich"?
After a primetime blowout of the Miami Dolphins on "Monday Night Football", Patriots fans are faced with these questions and more in this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
Good: Patrick Chung
Chung was all over the field on Monday night. He registered five tackles (four solo) during the game but spent most of his time playing over the top of the defense in support of New England's inexperienced corners.
I think he's already surpassed Meriweather as the best safety on the team. Considering Meriweather made the pro bowl last season, that's high praise. The two of them together are developing into one of the league's best tandems of safeties.
Chung took the game into his own hands, starting on Miami's first possession of the second half.
His blocked punt gave the Patriots the ball at the Dolphins' 15-yard line. Two plays later they scored a touchdown, taking a 20-7 lead
He wasn't finished yet. Miami attempted a field goal to pull within 10 points. Instead Chung flew into the backfield so quickly he almost took a football to the gut. It was an "in your face" block. Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter had no chance.
Kyle Arrington recovered the ball and took it to the house for a touchdown and a 20-point New England lead.
To erase any chance of a Miami comeback, Chung intercepted a pass over the middle of the field and ran it back 51 yards for another score.
Patriots 41, Dolphins 14.
Points created by Patrick Chung, 21.
Good: Patriots Second Half
The team's woeful second half performance this season has been well-documented. Lackluster efforts against the Bengals, Jets and Bills had the Patriots looking more vulnerable than they have in years.
No such problem on Monday night.
After allowing 46 second-half point through three games, the Patriots held the Dolphins to just seven. They outscored Miami by 28 points in that span, sealing a much needed victory.
Good: Rob Ninkovich
Where did that come from?
The man they call "Stinkovich" may have earned enough respect in Patriot Nation to be called by his rightful name.
Ninkovich, to the ire of many fans, wears Mike Vrabel's old number. On Monday night he did his best Vrabel impersonation.
Out of nowhere Ninkovich was a disruptive force on defense. He had two pass interceptions, one of which was actually 'wicked' athletic. He also broke through the line for a sack.
If you're counting at home, his single sack equalled half of the team's total for the night.
This could change with the next bad play he makes, but for now at least it's time to stop calling him Stinkovich.
Good: Special Teams
I did a piece during the preseason in which I predicted Brandon Tate would make the Pro Bowl as a return man. After returning his second kickoff for a touchdown in Miami, he's well on his way.
For the second time this season Tate returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown. It was an instant spark for a team that needed one.
Special Teams took that spark and ignited it into a roaring blaze with a blocked punt and a blocked field goal, the latter of which was returned for a touchdown.
It was the first time in NFL history that a team scored on returns of a kickoff, blocked field goal, and interception in the same game.
Special Teams were the difference between winning and losing on Monday and they came through in a big way.
Good: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Don't look now, but the Patriots just may have a legitimate running threat.
The Firm totaled 76 yards on 16 carries and led all rushers in the game. He showed excellent quickness and straight ahead running on a nifty 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
His grip on the starting role gets more "Firm" each week. With Houston's Arian Foster leading the NFL in rushing after originally signing as an undrafted free-agent, Green-Ellis could be the next practice squad player to prove skeptics wrong.
Good: Jerod Mayo
Watching the game it was easy to see that Mayo was making a lot of plays. He always seemed to be around the ball.
It wasn't until I checked this morning's box score that I realized just how active he was. Mayo finished with 16 tackles, 14 of them solo.
For the season, his 43 tackles rank third in the NFL.
Good: Play Calling
The Patriots had a tough time handling Dolphins pass rusher Cameron Wake. He gave them fits on both ends of the line.
So rather than drop back and run their typical spread offense (hope you're reading this, Chicago) they ran the ball to keep pressure off Brady. New England ran the ball 32 times (including kneel-downs) and only attempted 24 passes.
That approach kept Miami on their heels and off Tom Brady. As a result, Brady had good protection when he did drop back and a lot of the Dolphins' pass rush was neutralized.
It helped that Green-Ellis and emerging fan favorite Danny Woodhead looked good running the ball.
On a side note, Brady is the best in the NFL at converting the short yardage QB Sneak. It's New England's bread and butter in third or fourth down and less than a yard. They ran it twice on Monday and it's a very underrated part of Brady's game.
Bad: Randy Moss
Moss got shut out. No catches.
He was thrown to only once, and he dropped a touchdown. It would have been a nice catch, but it's the type of play you expect Moss to make.
He didn't on Monday and wasn't thrown to again.
It didn't hurt the Patriots as they won handily, but what if they'd needed Moss down the stretch? This was a closer game than the score indicates and were it not for the special teams it could have come down to the wire. They can't afford to have their best receiver lay an egg in an important game.
This does beg to ask a more pressing question. With just nine catches for 139 yards through four games, is Randy Moss still the explosive playmaker the Patriots need him to be?
It's too early to tell, but without a single 100-yard game of reception of 40 or more yards, the prognosis certainly isn't good.
It was refreshing to see Brady on the sideline high-fiving his teammates and getting them fired up for a big win. His spirited congratulations are contagious and bring a certain fire to the team.
It was even better seeing Belichick gushing on the sidelines. Hoodie Bill is usually a picture of stoicism, rarely showing any emotion, good or bad. On Monday he was clearly elated with his players and had no problem letting it show.
This game meant a lot to the team, and it was good to see its leaders acting accordingly.
Ugly: Dolphins Cheerleaders
Real ugly. What can I say.
I mean honestly, I don't see what's so appealng about these women. What kind of man enjoys looking at those beasts?
Before you comment indignantly about how wrong I am on this one, go grab a dictionary and look up the word sarcasm.