What an incredible game. High scoring, lots of emotion, and a fight to boot! After getting completely and utterly annihilated in their first meeting of the season, the Patriots came out with one goal: stop that #@$#$^* Wildcat formation!
Entering the week, the Patriots (and fans) saw this as a must-win game. Side note: although it always is great to beat the Dolphins, and the games are usually close, it still feels weird to think that a win over Miami is essential to making the playoffs. Regardless, this Miami team is a lot different than last year (and a lot trickier, too), but Matt Cassel is also alot different from their previous matchup.
After a back-and-forth first half, the Pats finally skinned the fish in the second while whopping up a humungous number of yardage. There were a few players who didn't seem to play well, but overall, the team performed extremely well. This team fought their tails off and made sure they would win this game, no matter what.
Consider this: Wes Welker was knocked out of action early in the first half, well before he could hit his trademarked 6th catch of the game. He seemed to be in some serious pain - but nothing serious enough to keep him on the sideline for more than one play. And he didn't come back in as a diversion - he was the target on his first play back on the field. And he went straight at the linebackers after he caught it. That type of heart is rarely seen in this free-agency era where players look out for their own wallets before their team. Do you think LT would have come right back in if he wasn't 100%? Absolutely not.
Though the game was unruly and extremely rough, players from both sides of the ball lost their heads by the end of the game. Pats' LT Matt Light and Dolphins LB Clam Chowder went blow for blow (err, Light actually started beating him on his exposed head), causing both to be ejected. Dolphins' LB Joey Porter caused two 15-yard penalties on back-to-back plays at the end of the game, and wouldn't come off the field when his coach called for him.
Add to the fact that Miami DT Jason Ferguson complained that the Patriots were "rubbing it in" by scoring a touchdown at the end of the game, and we can legitimately call the Miami Dolphins "sore-losers". Someone should remind Ferguson that the Patriots were running the ball up the middle with their backup, backup, backup undrafted rookie free agent running back. If that's rubbing it in, I don't want to know what
he thought of the games last year.
On to the player stock market:
- QB Matt Cassel: 400+ yards for two weeks in a row. This guy is a very competent replacement for Brady. He also has some swagger, getting up from some tough hits and staying in the game. Heck, he even threw a nice ball following a hit that left him limping.
- WR Randy Moss: We all know Moss is great. But when was the last time you saw him put his shoulder down and take a defender 5-yards for a touchdown? If teams keep "disrespecting" him by not double covering him, we should have a few more Moss-shows to see.
DT Vince Wilfork: On one drive, he stopped the ball carrier on one play, sacked the QB on the next, and proceeded to slide along the defensive line causing a
false start penalty on the Dolphins. Other than that, it was business as usual for the big man in the front: stop the run, read the screens, beast the offensive line. And the Wildcat netted the Dolphins next to nothing.
- WR Wes Welker: The little engine that could (and did).
- S Brandon Meriweather: Gets another pick to have a team-high 4 on the season. After the pick, DT Vince Wilfork did the Joey Porter "kick" celebration.
- K Stephen Gostkowski: Consistent in all phases of the game, he also booted a kickoff WELL past the endzone.
- G Stephen Neal: 3 penalties (amassing 30 yards) in the first quarter. Otherwise he was solid.
- CB Ellis Hobbs: Dropped an interception, messed up against Ted Ginn Jr's 45+ yard play, and most likely had an unnecessary celebration on the field. This guy needs to get his head together and learn that tackling a guy after a 10-yard run when it's 3rd-and-5 doesn't warrant a celebration. If the players behind him at CB were any better, Hobbs would be strictly returning kickoffs.