The Patriots got exactly what they needed on Sunday, at the expense of the Miami Dolphins: A close game on the road that they found a way to win.
The Patriots offense struggled against a stout Miami defense in the first half. Managing only 10 yards rushing and Tom Brady threw his 4th interception of the season. If not for a muffed punt by the Dolphins (which led to a NE touchdown) and a roughing the punter (which also led to a NE touchdown), the Dolphins very easily could have been winning this game at the half. However, like any Super-Bowl caliber team should do, the Patriots were able to take advantage of the young Dolphins mistakes and take a 17-10 lead into halftime.
For much of the second half, both offenses struggled to move the ball and traded punts in the 3rd quarter and field goals in the 4th. Neither team was able to sustain any sort of long drive or get the ball into the end zone. That is, until the Patriots put together what might have been their most impressive drive of the season.
Coming off a Dolphins field goal, that made it a 7 point game with a little over 8 minutes left to play, the Patriots found their groove right when they needed it.
The Patriots quieted the energized Miami crowd by orchestrating a 16 play, 77-yard drive that ate up over 7 minutes of the clock and practically put the game out of reach for the Dolphins. Tom Brady threw the ball only 3 times on the drive, instead the Patriots were able to run the ball right down the throat of the 8th ranked rushing defense in the league and set Gostkowski up for a 20-yard field goal to make it a 10 point game.
Now, with Tom Brady and the Patriots offense having their worst statistical game of the year (321 total yards and a turnover), it’s safe to say the Dolphins defense did their part.
It was the streaky Miami offense that let them down yet again.
Facing a New England defense that has given up over 380 yards a game this year, the Dolphins offense was only able to manage 277 yards. Not only that, but they were a dismal 3 for 13 on third down and were sacked 3 times.
In the end:
If you’re a Dolphins fan, you have to be encouraged by the fact that it was a one score game right through the 4th quarter.
If you’re a Pats fan, you have to be ecstatic about the fact that the Patriots were able to win a game on the road with their defense and running game.
Follow Cole Stevenson on Twitter: @Cole_Stevenson