After the first quarter of today's game, things were rolling in New England. The Patriots were up 14-0 and Jimmy Garoppolo looked like a combination of Joe Montana and Tom Brady. Garoppolo was showing poise in the pocket and hitting the open receiver with ease. Martellus Bennett was a beneficiary of Garoppolo's strong play, registering five receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown. This is Bennett's third-career 100+ yard game in the NFL.
As the Patriots approached the end of the first half, Garoppolo was forced out of the pocket, as pressure was coming from newly acquired linebacker, Kiko Alonso. Jimmy G was able to get a pass off to Malcolm Mitchell, but was hit hard and driven into the ground directly on his right shoulder. Garoppolo was in noticeable pain and had trouble getting off the field. He was finally able to get off the field and was taken for x-rays at a nearby hospital. Early indications have revealed that Garoppolo may miss as much as six weeks before he is completely healed from a still-unknown shoulder injury. On the day, Garoppolo finished throwing 234 yards and three touchdowns in under a half of football.
Nonetheless, there was still football to be played and the Patriots had a job to do. Rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett entererd the game and was able to lead the offense to a touchdown drive on their first possession of the second half. While Brissett was not relied upon heavily in the offense, he was effective, throwing for 92 yards on six of nine passes. As soon as the move at quarterback happened, it was apparent that the Patriots were changing their scheme on offense to a more conservative game plan. Legarrette Blount and James White were much more heavily involved in the offense, specifically in the run game. Blount finished the day running the rock 29 times for 123 yards and a touchdown.
While the offense did it's job, especially in the first half, the defense did not. In the second half, the Patriots were outscored 21-7 and could not generate any pressure to speak of on Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill. While Tannehill recorded his first completion in the second quarter after being held helpless in the first quarter, Tannehill was able to pull the Dolphins to within a touchdown at 31-24 with 6:06 left in the football game.
Jacoby Brissett was again able to lead the offense down the field, setting the Patriots up to finish this game late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, pro bowl kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39-yard field goal and gave the Dolphins life. Tannehill was able to find Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker all night, and this drive was no different. With less than 10 seconds to go in the game, Tannehill heaved a Hail Mary into the end zone, which was intercepted and the game was effectively over.
It became apparent as this game was coming to an end that the Patriots need another quarterback on the roster. Whether this quarterback will start in front of Brissett or be his back up, the Patriots had Julian Edelman, who registered seven receptions for 76 yards, listed as the #2 quarterback on the depth chart by the end of this game. Even through all these injuries, the Patriots are in great position to get healthy and make a serious run at a Super Bowl, especially when TB12 returns from his four-game suspension.
Hang in there, Patriots Nation.