The Miami Dolphins won the time of possession over New England, controlling the ball nearly 31 minutes of the game. They also used the “Wildcat” formation effectively against the Patriots, with Ronnie Brown, Pat White, and Ricky Williams combining for 126 yards on 28 carries.
Ronnie Brown even threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Joey Haynos out of the formation to cap off a 16-play 66-yard drive in the third quarter that lasted over ten minutes and gave the Dolphins a 17-16 lead.
Miami also held Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady to one touchdown pass and intercepted him once, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the fact Brady also connected on 25 of his 37 pass attempts for 332 yards as New England racked up 432 yards of total offense in a 27-17 victory at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough over the ‘Phins.
Coming into the game, the ‘Phins were without nose tackle Jason Ferguson and linebacker Channing Crowder. More important than those injuries might have been the loss of cornerback Will Allen for the season two weeks ago in the game against the Saints, as Randy Moss connected on two incredible plays, the second winning the game for the Patriots.
The first play will be shown on ESPN over the next few days; an amazing one-handed grab of a 36-yard Brady pass that set up the Patriots at the Dolphins one-yard line and led to New England’s first touchdown of the game, giving them a 7-3 lead over Miami.
The ‘Phins had opened the scoring on a Dan Carpenter 52-yard field goal (the longest of his career) to take a 3-0 lead early in the opening quarter, but everyone knew this wouldn’t be a defensive struggle. Moss’ incredible catch minutes later reiterated that fact, as he snatched the ball out of the air beyond the reach of cornerback Vontae Davis.
A few Stephen Gostkowski field goals, interspersed by a Ricky Williams 15-yard touchdown run, gave New England a 16-10 halftime lead, yet there weren’t many Patriots fans who felt secure with that 6-point cushion.
Their anxiety had to have risen considerably when Miami opened the third quarter with that incredible ten-minute drive and took the lead. The hush that fell over the stadium when Haynos caught that pass from Brown was impressive.
Yet, there was still plenty of time left, and they were only down by a point. They really wouldn’t need much time, though, as on the next New England drive, with the Patriots facing a 3rd-and-1 on their own 29-yard-line, Brady connected with Moss on the second of their spectacular connections, a 71-yard touchdown that effectively sealed the win for the Patriots.
Brady and Moss also connected on the two-point conversion after the touchdown in order to put New England up 24-17. All told, Randy Moss ended the day with six receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown.
Chad Henne and the Dolphins would have a couple of shots at tying the game, as the Miami defense stiffened up considerably, yet in both series they failed to get the job done, the second one leading to the Patriots taking over on downs deep in Miami territory and setting up their final field goal that capped all scoring and gave New England a 27-17 win.
Although the ‘Phins are now 3-5, and effectively out of the playoff chase, I’m hoping they don’t lay down and die for the rest of the season.
One troubling aspect of this game, and the last few, is knowing that Henne’s performance against the Jets in that Monday Night thriller was probably more indicative of the exception, rather than the rule, of his game.
Henne just hasn’t seemed anything like that quarterback we saw in that fourth-quarter comeback, and the Dolphins have lost two of their last three games because of the lack of production from that position in clutch moments.
It’s not like he’s been terrible, he just hasn’t been anything even comparable to Dan Marino, who he was being compared to even by this writer (although there were considerable caveats in those associations).
Ted Ginn Jr. also wasn’t able to capture the magic he had in the Dolphins last game against the Jets, and as I’d pointed out in my preview, Miami would need some of that magic to overcome all the considerable hurdles they faced coming into the game against New England.
Simply put, Miami didn’t have enough in the tank to take down the Patriots in their home stadium. If this game had been played in Land Shark Stadium, it might have been a different story; who knows?
Yet, it wasn’t. It was played in the hostile confines of New England, and the better team won.
There’s no shame in admitting the Patriots are a better team than the Dolphins. New England is now 6-2 on the year and leads the AFC East. They’re an offensive juggernaut who put up 59 points on a very talented Tennessee Titans team, and the fact Miami held them to 27 points with a decimated defensive core is impressive.
Miami and their fans can take consolation from the fact there are other sports their teams are doing well in.
Well, one sport, at least: basketball.
The Miami Heat are 5-1 on the season, and it’s looking like D-Wade and company might be for real this year. Regardless of whether you have another team to fall back on and invest all your emotional support in, still root on the ‘Phins this year.
Miami will need that support now more than ever, so to all the ‘Phins fans out there, GOO ‘Phins!.
To the Patriots fans? We’ll be seeing you down in Miami soon.