Tough game to watch.
It seems like that has been a frequently used phrase for me lately, right? First a crushing OT defeat against the Broncos in Mile High, then embarrassing losses against the Eagles, Jets and Dolphins in the final weeks of the regular season.
A Bill Belichick team has never lost 4 out of the final 6 games heading into the regular season, but lets talk about the game and leave the future of this team for the next two weeks.
Coming into this game, no one really gave the Dolphins a chance to win; they just lost their GM, had players' wives tweeting about how terrible their quarterback was, and were playing for a quarterback that may not even have a job by the time I'm done writing this recap.
Nevertheless, the Patriots limped into South Florida as the heavy favorites, but from the first offensive possession, everyone knew how boring and unattractive this game was going to be.
In the first half, the Patriots ran a total of 4 plays in which Brady attempted a pass, which is a franchise-low. Fans saw a lot of Steven Jackson and Brandon Bolden, who, at times, were extremely ineffective. Defensively, the Patriots allowed 10 points in each half, but the score line does not reflect just how mediocre the secondary played.
Even without Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones, the Patriots were able to put the Dolphins in many 3rd-and-long situations, but Ryan Tannehill found the open receivers in the secondary and torched Logan Ryan multiple times.
However, the bigger storyline is the health of the greatest quarterback of all time, one Mr. Tom Brady. Ndamukong Suh went low on Tom Brady and and rolled his ankles at the end of the play, which left Brady with a significant and noticeable limp for the rest of the game. X-rays came back negative for a fracture or break, but a bad sprain is nothing to shrug off. These next two weeks will be extremely important to the entire Patriots organization if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs.
This does not look like the same Patriots team that we saw for the first 10 weeks of the regular season. There is no denying that injuries have played a major role in the decline in production on both sides of the football, but I feel like there is something else. I am not sure what it is, and I have no factual evidence to back this up, but I have never seen the Patriots play a more conservative offensive game.
With all that said, the Patriots now have two weeks to get everyone healthy and ready for the Texans/Chiefs/Bengals. Personally, I believe that the Patriots have chosen health over the #1 seed, and I am 100% fine with that.
By Pete Packowski