Patriots vs. Dolphins: Live Grades and Analysis for New England

Sterling Xie@@sxie1281Correspondent IIDecember 15, 2013

Brady and the Pats couldn't pull out another late-game miracle.
Brady and the Pats couldn't pull out another late-game miracle.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The New England Patriots couldn't come up with another late-game comeback, falling to 10-4 after losing to the Miami Dolphins

Check out final grades and analysis below.


New England - 20

Miami - 24

New England Patriots Grades
Position Unit1st Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseB+A-
Run OffenseB+B
Run DefenseA-A-
Pass DefenseB-C-
Special TeamsAB-
vs. Dolphins

Game Analysis for the New England Patriots

Pass Offense: Despite shoddy pass protection after Nate Solder went out, Tom Brady and the offense were clicking for most of the fourth quarter. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola came up with massive games, combining for 23 receptions and 270 yards. However, red-zone woes, which included two 15-play drives ending in field goals, helped cost the Pats this game.

Run Offense: Again, the Patriots largely abandoned the run game in their attempt to erase a fourth-quarter deficit. Blount and Stevan Ridley had solid success throughout, but they largely took a backseat to Shane Vereen in crunch time again. Vereen was quiet today, as Miami clearly made him a priority in its coverage.

Run Defense: Miami did not overpower the Patriots on the ground, as New England executed much better in shedding blocks and wrapping up this week. An encouraging sign of progress in this area, and certainly not what cost the Pats the game.

Pass Defense: The Pats’ press coverage did not hold up in the second half, with Miami having lots of success spreading out the defense from shotgun. Ultimately, with a chance to seal the game on 4th-and-5, the Patriots could not take advantage of the golden opportunity. It’s the second straight week the Pats failed to get the critical late-game stop, and the offense could not bail them out this week.

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Special Teams: Stephen Gostkowski missed his first sub-50-yarder since September and also had a critical late kickoff out of bounds that led to the game-winning touchdown. Gostkowski has certainly had an excellent season overall, but today was a bit of a black eye.

Coaching: The Patriots did an excellent job of devising an offensive game plan to combat Gronkowski’s loss, though they were unable to solve their Gronk-less red-zone woes. The aggressive defensive game plan failed in the end, but it gave them a better chance than playing soft zone.

The Pats D couldn't come up with the big stop.
The Pats D couldn't come up with the big stop.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

First-Half Analysis for the New England Patriots

Pass Offense: The Patriots are operating an uber-efficient game plan, with Tom Brady hitting his receivers on quick timing patterns and allowing them to rack up the YAC. The Pats settled for a field goal on their first red-zone drive, but Michael Hoomanawanui bailed them out with a spectacular one-handed touchdown snag near the end of the half. Danny Amendola also terrorized the Dolphins on the touchdown drive, with three consecutive receptions for 48 yards.

Run Offense: LeGarrette Blount’s stock is quietly rising, as the bruising back jumpstarted the offense on the first drive. Blount and the backs have had a lot of success up the middle, a trend that may continue if injured Dolphins defensive tackle Paul Soliai cannot return.

Run Defense: The second-level support has been excellent today, as the Patriots run defense is holding up despite playing much of the game from sub-package personnel. Miami’s running backs have only averaged 3.4 yards per carry. Much better fundamental tackling and gap discipline than we’ve seen in previous weeks.

Pass Defense: The Patriots are playing lots of press coverage, challenging Miami’s receivers and pass protection. Thus far, New England’s pass rush has won the matchup, notching three sacks in the first half. However, the tackling in the secondary got much sloppier on the Dolphins’ final drive, a touchdown that is keeping Miami in this game.

Special Teams: The Patriots got a big play with Miami’s muffed field goal, setting up the touchdown drive. New England has won the field-position battle so far, with Ryan Allen having an excellent game. Allen pinned the Dolphins inside the 10 and also had a critical 58-yard punt backed up in his end zone.

Coaching: Give credit to Josh McDaniels for designing a very creative offensive game plan without Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots have exhibited a variety of formations, including “20” personnel (2 RB, 3 WR), something they have not shown all year. Some bizarre clock management at the end of the half, with two runs and a timeout—a kneel-down would have been sufficient and less risky.