What the hell? This was my initial response to seeing the Patriots score when I returned from lunch today. I go to college in D.C. so I can't watch all the Patriots games so I follow them on my computer, and after stepping out for half an hour I returned to see a shocking score. Of course, if you followed the game today, the final score was 38-13, Miami Dolphins over the New England Patriots and I'm not sure what to think. Normally when you see an upset like this, it is easy to explain away in a few different ways:
1. The winning team got lucky.
I don't think so. The Dolphins out-gained the Patriots by a total of 461 yards to 216 yards. They only forced two turnovers so there were really no bad bounces involved. The Dolphins gained 216 yards on the ground with only 36 carries. This comes out to 6 yards a carry. That is a beat-down.
2. The quarterback for the losing team was horrendous.
Ok, Matt Cassel wasn't good, but he didn't cost them the game. He went 19 for 31 for 131 yards with a touchdown and a pick. Those type of numbers don't win you a game, but they don't translate into a 25 point deficit.
3. A major injury occurred.
Nope, that was two weeks ago.
This is a difficult article to write particularly because I wrote one about four days ago proclaiming my belief in Matt Cassel's ability to lead them to a Super Bowl. In a way, I think these two games with Cassel starting have shown what we can expect from the Pats this year. At their best, they can be stifling defensively and good enough offensively to eke out a win. At their worst, they can be porous defensively and that same offense can be ineffective.
I haven't given this up yet though. This game was embarrassing and frustrating because this is the Dolphins who went 1-15 last year. I can only hope that they overlooked the Dolphins for the bye week. I can only hope that this bye week can help them get their act together. And I can only hope that Matt Cassel can get in a groove so we can start putting up more than 13 and 19 points per game. I hope the Pats D just had a bad game and has not been exposed as a fraud. And I worry because all of this things have to go our way for the Super Bowl or the playoffs even to be a thought.
Now I look at the upcoming schedule and all of a sudden, this isn't the easiest schedule that everyone said we had. We've got the Seahawks, Cardinals, and 49ers who have all been solid for the most part this year. We've got the Raiders who look improved, the Broncos who look like the class of the AFC, and the Chargers who surely will play better as the season goes on. We've got two games against the 3-0 Bills, one game against the Dolphins, and another game with the Jets. We also have the Steelers and the Colts. I see only one game that I am confident in predicting that we will win and this is our game against the Rams.
I don't think this Dolphins game was a good indicator of how our season will go. I'm guessing that our future performance will be a little closer to the Jets game than the Dolphins game. But it worries me that we have the potential to play a stinker like this one, and that doesn't bode well for our playoff hopes.