GAME REVIEW WEEK 17 2016
Miami Are Down But Not Out
As expected the New England Patriots came to play and it didn't take long for them to stamp their authority on the game. They came out with a plan to throw short passes and screens, mixing it up with a balanced rushing attack. It worked to perfection as the Dolphins defense didn't have an answer to anything that was thrown at them. Tom Brady ground out a seven and a half minute drive following the first kick-off, capping it with a short pass to Martellus Bennett who was wide open in the back of the end-zone. Miami gave the ball back to New England shortly afterwards and six plays later newly acquired Michael Floyd was fighting his way across the goal line for a fourteen yard score. Just like that Miami were down 14-0 and it was still the first quarter. There were missed tackles and lost opportunities all over the field, things were looking bleak and it wasn't going to get any easier as Matt Moore tried to move the ball on a broken play but was intercepted. New England made them pay by adding another three points on the very first play of the second quarter, 17-0 with not much of a response from the home team.
After that Miami showed some signs of life by going no huddle and managed to move the ball twenty one yards, things were getting that bad that twenty yards seemed like a result, but that is as far as they managed before punting the ball back to the New England juggernaut. They went on a roll before running out of steam having to settle for another field goal, 20-0. The Dolphins were floundering but with just a little over three minutes to play they showed some fight. Jay Ajayi asserted his presence on the drive with runs of 6, 8 and 6 together with an eleven yard reception, that with a mix of passes and Miami was on the Patriots eight yard line.
Moore hit Jarvis Landry in the flat who was subsequently drilled by Dont'a Hightower but as we have seen so many times Landry did not go down. He bounced out of the tackle, somehow staying on his feet and just like that he lunged for the pylon...TOUCHDOWN! The score was slightly tarnished because he drew a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty for throwing his helmet to the ground after the catch, that was tacked onto the ensuing kick-off. Brady wasn't finished and was intent on adding more points before the half, he drove down the field and into field goal range just like that. Luckily for the Dolphins Stephen Gostkowski missed a fifty two yard attempt so the half time score was 20-7 and Miami would receive the second half kick-off, so there was hope.
Hope was rewarded when Moore orchestrated a six minute drive starting at his 25 yard line and resulting in a perfectly thrown pass to a wide open Kenny Stills, the extra point was good, there were now only six points between the teams, could this be? Not a chance, four plays and Julian Edelman took a short pass and turned it into a seventy seven yard score. He was sprung free because Bobby McCain was all in on a blitz, Bacarri Rambo then missed the tackle and Kiko Alonso wasn't quick enough to get in position and then was left for dust. There was a chance for Tony Lippett to take him down but Floyd knocked Lippett into next week taking him out of the play. So for as long as it took Miami to score, the Patriots came sprinting back with a score of their own. Still it was only 27 - 14 with 1 1/2 quarters to play, plenty of time......for New England to put the icing on the cake and cherry on top for good measure.
There was a period of punt ping pong before Miami decided to stop the boredom by putting together a drive that got them down to the New England nine yard line, Moore hit Damien Williams for 3 yards, then disaster struck, while he was trying to get extra yards the ball popped out, it was scooped up by New England and returned all the way back to the Miami 18, and from there it was game over as LaGarrette Blount barrelled in from 1 yard out shortly afterwards. Belichick went for the two point conversion, as if 34-14 wasn't enough with a little over five minutes too play. Maybe he was trying to prove a point but it did seem a little unnecessary as by then the game was out of reach.
This was a bitter pill to swallow being that it was the last game of the regular season at home, a win would have been a great way to bring in the new year, we will just have to wait until next week for that. The thing that stood out from this game was the inability to bring down Patriot players, the Floyd touchdown was the highlight as he forced his way across the goal line with six Dolphins trying to stop him. It was also remarkable how receivers, tight ends and running backs were so open when Brady went to the pass, lack of team speed is hurting the defense at the moment and will have to be addressed in the off-season. For now these flaws will have to be patched up, not sure how Vance Joseph is going to work his magic, but without a miracle cure it is going to be a very short venture into the post-season.