Tag Archives: Miami Dolphins

Brady Picked In End Zone As Dolphins Hang On To Top Pats

Michael Thomas of the Dolphins celebrates his game-ending pick with the rest of the Miami defense.

The Patriots have been nothing shirt of dominant in the moth of December for the past few seasons. The Miami sunshine must have confused them.

With a chance to take advantage of Denver’s Thursday night loss at the hands of the Chargers, the Pats could not pull off their fourth straight gut-check win. Trailing the Dolphins, 24-20, Tom Brady was picked off by on a fourth-down play in the end zone by Michael Thomas, fresh of the 49ers‘ practice squad, as time expired.

The Miami win kept their hopes for the AFC East alive as they improved to 8-6 and the Patriots lost for the first time since the Monday Night game against the Panthers. It was their first win against New England in eight games and their third straight overall.

“We didn’t do a good job in the red area,” Brady said after the game.And didn’t do a good job finishing drives. We came up on the short end of the stick. It wasn’t a good day. Just couldn’t make enough plays.”

Brady did throw two touchdowns to Michael Hoomanawanui and Julian Edelman, but his only mistake of the day at best prolonged New England’s 11th division title in the last 14 seasons.
Miami’s Ryan Tannehill threw the game-winning touchdown pass – his third of the day – to Marcus Thigpen with 1:15 remaining in the fourth, leaving just enough time for Brady to get within striking distance thanks to a couple of big conversions.
The Pats went into the half up 10-0 thanks to a botched Miami field goal attempt, but quickly saw their halftime lead turn to 10-7 to start the third and then 17-10 after a field goal and another TD pass.

They would come back to score the next 10, however, with a Stephen Gostkowki field goal from 23 yards out and a 24-yard pass from Brady to  Edelman with 4:07 left in the fourth quarter. Gostkowski had missed his first attempt earlier in the game.

Again, however, the Pats’ makeshift D gave up the go-ahead score despite Miami facing a 3rd-and-16 to begin the drive. Tanehill would complete two straight and pick up the first down as the clock kept rolling. After mostly short and intermediate throws, he then connected with Rishard Matthews for a 24-yard gain to the New England 14 and then hit  Thigpen on the next play to put the ‘Phins up, 24-20, with 1:15 to go. Gostkowski’s kickoff had gone out of bounds, which set Miami up at their own 40.

Then, facing a 4th-and-8 at his own 33, Brady threw a pea to Danny Amendola for one of his 10 catches, to pick up 12 yards with 52 seconds left. On the next series, Brady connected with Edelman for one of his 13 catches to pick up 16 on 3rd-and-10 now with 27 to play. And the Pats were in the red zone.

A Dolphins’ offsides set the Pats up at the 14, but Brady tried three times to get in the end zone and failed. The first was to Edelman, the second to Hoomanawanui and then his fourth-down pass intended for Austin Collie was intercepted by Thomas in the end zone to end the game.

“I knew being the new guy that Tom Brady would come after me,” Thomas said. “He’s a great quarterback, and he’s going to exploit any weaknesses.”

Danny Amendola's potential game-winning catch slipped through his finger tips.

Danny Amendola’s potential game-winning catch slipped through his finger tips.

Brady finished the day 34-of-55 for 364 yards – his fourth straight 300-yard game. Edelman caught 13 for 139 yards and a score while Amendola snagged 10 for 131 of his own, but couldn’t haul in the game-winner in the end zone despite having both hands on the ball on the final drive. Both were huge in the comeback bid that fell just short while Shane Vereen mustered only 21 total yards on five touches for the day. Neither team ran for 100 yards.

The loss dropped the Patriots to 3-4 on the road this season while they are a perfect 7-0 at home. Fourteen fourth-quarter points allowed had a lot to do with that.

“We were short in every area [today],” Bill Belichick said, noting that special teams play had a lot to do with it.

Miami coach, Joe Philbin, said after the game that he might go home and jump in his pool for the second time since moving to Florida, referring to a celebratory swim.

The Pats will host the 7-6 defending champion Ravens in the late game next Sunday while the Dolphins look to bolster their playoff chances against the Bills at Ralph Wilson.


Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

NFL Week 15 Preview : Patriots @ Dolphins

Bill Belichick may have his toughest challenge to date after the loss of Gronkowski

It wasn’t pretty, in fact – it was a gruesome, improbable and miraculous 27-26 victory by Tom Brady and the Patriots last week against the Browns. Toss up, losing against Cleveland in Week 14 or losing Gronk for the postseason run? I think we all know the answer here. Just after New England escaped again in Houston, following a historic comeback versus Denver, the Pats absorbed their biggest blow of the season. It’s difficult to understand how New England is 10-3 after season-ending surgeries to two Pro Bowl defensive leaders in Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork. Losing the best TE in the game is just icing on the cake. If anything, 2013 has been an opportunity to reflect on how great of a mastermind Bill Belichick really is. He has been able to produce more with less for years and faces his steepest uphill climb to date. No one deserves the coach of the year more than BB.

While a death stare from the hooded menace may have taken the Browns safety’s soul, T.J. Ward took Gronk’s ACL/MCL in the 3rd quarter. Rewind to the first six weeks and the Patriots posted a scrappy 5-1 record without Rob, there’s hope.

New England controls their own #1 seed destiny after San Diego upset Peyton Manning and the Broncos last night 27-20. Furthermore, the Patriots have a chance to clinch their 11th AFC East title in 12 years by defeating the (7-6) playoff hungry Dolphins in Miami on Sunday. Incognito v Martin is still brewing but this mini-run is somewhat of a smoke-in-mirrors to their embarrassing MNF loss to a winless Tampa Bay squad at the height of the scandal. 2013 has been a roller-coaster ride full of luck, controversy and struggle for some but Belichick and Brady are exactly where every team in the NFL wants to be – a game away from clinching. The Patriots have the opportunity to make the Superbowl go through Gillette Stadium by winning out and it starts at Sun Life Stadium at 1:00 PM on CBS. Check out these three keys to victory for the New England:

1) Protect the ball: Over their last six games, the Patriots have had seven turnovers in the first half of these contests. That’s one easy way to fall behind early and often. This trend has been the achilles’ heal to an uncharacteristic season. Belichick is known for his second-half adjustments but these halftime deficits are scary and need to vanish, ASAP. Despite ranking 31st in the NFL by allowing opponents a healthy 135.8 rushing YPG, the young New England defensive unit has kept the Patriots in games by forcing 24 takeaways – good for 2nd in the AFC. When the Gronk returned in Week 7 and beyond, Brady smothered him with targets to a point where fans realized there was such a thing as forcing it too much to the beast. Tom was trigger happy and let more than a few get away from him in the first half of the season. Chemistry later developed and the offense was clicking on all cylinders, but now it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

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Big Second Half Lifts Patriots Past Dolphins

Brandon Bolden celebrates his third-quarter touchdown that tied the game at 17 apiece.

For pretty much all of the first half, it looked as though Week 8 against Miami would mirror the dreadful finish in the Week 7 loss to the Jets as the offense could get nothing going, the Dolphins were running through the injury-depleted defensive front and Tom Brady’s hand had swelled up to the size of a balloon. Patriots Nation was certainly frustrated for a bit as their team found themselves down 17-3 at halftime, before Brady, doing all he could to keep his throwing hand functioning, led them back in the second half for the 27-17 win with 24 unanswered points despite not picking up a first down until the final minute of the first quarter.

We can skip the majority of the first half lowlights, like Brady getting picked on his first attempt while throwing for only 25 yards, and just give the ugly particulars. A Brandon Gibson reception after three third-down conversions and a Daniel Thomas run put the ‘Phins up, 14-0, just five minutes into the second and rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis made it 17-3 before the half, but it was his miss in the third quarter, after the Patriots had gone three-and-out with just a miserable drive, that gave the home team some momentum back. Dont’a Hightower sacked Ryan Tannehill on third down and Sturgis’ kick hit the upright from 46 yards away.

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NFL Week 8 Preview: Dolphins @ Patriots

Tom Brady needs to raise his production level in Week 8 against the Dolphins

Referees aside, Tom Brady and the Patriots did not execute well enough to earn a victory against the Jets in the controversial finish at Metlife Stadium last week. Despite the return of Gronkowski (17 tgts, 8 rec, 114 yds), TB12 finished the 30-27 OT loss with an uncharacteristic 53.5 QBR, completing 22/46 passes for 222 yards, zero touchdowns and a critical pick six. New England converted one out of 12 third down chances, surrendering 11/21 opportunities on the opposite side of the ball. The Patriots allowed 30 points to a Jets team that hadn’t scored over 29 in a game over their last 16 matchups and got manhandled in time of possession 46:13 to 23:40. New England still had chances to win the game late but could not pull through.

The (3-3) Miami Dolphins come into Gillette Stadium after losing 23-21 to the Bills on a late Dan Carpenter FG. It’s been seven years since Belichick and the Pats have lost back-to-back AFC East contests as they look to extend that dominance on Sunday. The injury bug continues to strike week after week, building New England’s injury report up to 15 players this week. Two of the notable cogs returning to practice on Friday were Danny Amendola (concussion) and Aqib Talib (hip). Gronk and Danny have not lined up together this year, creating an optimistic outlook for TB12 to get back on track in 2013. After escaping against New Orleans and almost again last week, the Patriots need a decisive and dominating win against the unproven but dangerous Dolphins tomorrow afternoon. Check out these three keys to a divisional New England victory:

1) Running back production: After netting over 100 total yards and 2 TD against the Saints, Ridley lead the Patriots with just 50 yards, 1 TD on the ground after Bolden (36 yards, 1 TD) got the “start” against the Jets. The two of them combined for three receptions for 10 yards, an area where New England needs to improve. Blount gained four yards on one carry, as Rex Ryan limited the backs to under 100 yards rushing for the second time this season. The aforementioned time of possession stats from last week will urge Josh McDaniels and company to execute a balanced gameplan. Shane Vereen returned to practice but remains eligible to return in Week 11, putting more pressure on Ridley and Bolden to maintain production. Brady’s completion percentage will increase and their three WR sets + Gronk will open holes for the rushing attack to gain over 100 yards.

2) Protect Brady: DE Cameron Wake is finally healthy for the Dolphins and will be going up against T Sebastian Vollmer all day. While Brady will always have an impressive “pocket presence”, there is no denying his age has come into play a few times each game in 2013. Whether it’s taking a sack that could be avoided with younger legs and increased mobility, this is his 13th season and is now 36 years old. If the Patriots want any chance of staying atop the AFC East the rest of the season, they will have to improve from the four sacks the Jets got on Brady during the OT defeat.

The offensive line has been a model of consistency for years, creating the time for Tom to make the right decisions. But as he continues to grow older, the rushing attack becomes exponentially important. Being able to lean on positive yards in early down situations opens up the playbook for manageable and more flexible third down playcalls. The Pats were 1/12 on third down because most of them were longer than five yards. The offensive line needs to have a strong performance this week in order to pave the way for a victory against the Dolphins.

3) Stay aggressive: DE Chandler Jones has established himself as the Patriots’ leading pass rusher all season long, already surpassing his sack total (6.5) from last year. There was never a question of his ability, but rather the health of his ankle that was injured early in his rookie campaign last year. The resigning of veteran DE Andre Carter sheds light upon Belichick’s emphasis on QB disruption. Ryan Tannehill has 9 TD and 7 INT on the year but is almost athletic as Geno Smith, playing WR in his first two years at Texas A&M. The Pats have forced a turnover in 34 consecutive games and need to continue this streak with defensive schemes to cause some bad decisions by Tannehill. The phrase “You play to win the game” has been long overused; however, Belichick and New England need to be proactive in their playcalling.

It’s clear that the Patriots are not the dominating team they have been in years past. If TB12 and the defense can make enough clutch plays each week, the wire-to-wire nailbiting games will start to vanish. WR Mike Wallace is always a threat to take the top of the defense but Devin McCourty has been strong at safety this year and made a brilliant play to break up a TD last week. RB Lamar Miller has been solid, if that, but has topped out at 69 yards for his season high. The Patriots will win this game 24-20 and command the AFC East lead for another week. If they lose at home, the media will start to rumble.

Patriots Match-Up Mania: Tom Brady Vs. His Mirror

Is Brady ready to be Brady?

This is not a case of me offering a fashionista critique of Tom Brady that leads to calling him a “pretty boy” player. After seven games, however, Brady needs to look to himself to cure what is ailing this New England Patriots team.

Injuries, personnel questions, and, at times, poor execution or play have plagued the Pats. We’ve seen the games. Brady can’t be exempted from the poor play factor. Despite the other factors, TB12 simply has to step his game up in order to beat the Miami Dolphins tomorrow, who look to have their full complement of defenders ready for the first time this season.

Statistically, Brady looks worse than he’s played. He’s 27th in completion percentage at 56.9. Even worse is his 19th-best quarterback rating of 48.5. Once you factor in the injury-plagued and very young wide-receiving corps, the numbers could be telling a bit of a lie.

Let’s be optimistic, though. Rob Gronkowski returned last week and was surprisingly effective in his first game this season. Brady and Gronk put 114 yards up. Danny Amendola says he’s ready, too. Can he stay ready?

Having said all that, football in 2013 is about winning. Brady is still focused on it and not stats.

Really the team stats matter the most, and the individual stats – in football they’re not probably as telling. I mean, you have them and you keep track of them [but] the wins and losses is the most important – truthfully, it’s the only thing that’s important. As long as you win and as long as you’re doing what it takes to win and help the team win, then you’re in a good situation.

At least one person unequivocally supports Brady: Brett Favre. He said: ““In my opinion, by far, it’s the most impressive performance, in any season, that Tom [Brady] has had.”

Patriots Force Four Turnovers, Hang On To Top Jets, 13-10

Julian Edelman's career night helped the Patriots improve to 2-0 with an ugly win over the Jets.

Julian Edelman’s career night helped the Patriots improve to 2-0 with an ugly win over the Jets.

Just four days removed from their season-opening win in Buffalo, the Patriots kicked off their home season against the always confident Jets. In one of the more ugly games in recent memory – not helped by the torrential downpours coming down in the second half – the Patriots rode three forced turnovers from Aqib Talib to survive the Jets’ attack and improve to 2-0 with a 13-10 victory.

After electing not to practice during the short week, all looked fine at the beginning as Tom Brady provided the team with a 39-yard Aaron Dobson touchdown catch to open the game. In the tight formation, Brady executed a perfect play fake and lobbed the ball to the wide-open Dobson, but then the offense stalled as they did on Sunday and Brady began showing his frustration with his group of young receivers. It was far from pretty, but a late interception from Geno Smith, the Jets’ fourth turnover of the game, gave the Patriots their second win of the season by a combined five points.

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