NEPD Staff Writer: Jerry F
The New England Patriots heard it all week. 82 points allowed in the first three games of the 2010 season, the most points allowed by any Patriots defense since Bill Belichick came to new England in 2000. Tom Brady and the high octane offense will have to keep putting up 30 points every game if the Patriots plan on winning games.
The Patriots had something else in mind.
Even though we are just four weeks into the NFL season, this was nearly a must win situation as AFC East leadership was at stake. The Jets were sitting at home with a comfortable 3-1 lead atop the division. The winner of tonight’s game was going to join them with the same 3-1 record. Both Miami and New England were in no position to drop divisional games as each had taken turns losing to the Jets in the past couple of weeks.
Belichick has been known for stirring emotions out of his players, especially when playing the underdog card. He was able to fire up his squad, especially the defense, all week by making them aware of how irrelevant they were supposed to be this season. Clippings from local media picking the Dolphins to win the game were shown in the locker room.
The result of all that was a 41-14 beatdown handed to the Dolphins. In a game where the Patriots young secondary were not supposed to have a smidgen of a chance against All-Pro Receiver Brandon Marshall, they actually neutralized and rendered him useless.
Patriots second year Safety Patrick Chung was like a man possessed tonight as he blocked a punt, blocked a field goal, and returned an interception for a touchdown. Chung, who had edged out Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather earlier in the season, showed the faith the coaches had in him as he made plays all over the field. There is a good chance Chung will be randomly tested by the NFL tomorrow morning for any sign of performance enhancement. He was that good tonight.
Patriots Outside Linebacker Rob Ninkovich was right up there with Patrick Chung tonight, as he intercepted Chad Henne twice in the first half. The second of which set up a 30 yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal that put the Patriots 7-6 behind the Dolphins going into halftime.
The second half was none like the Patriots have had all season. Brandon Tate set the tone early as he returned the second half kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown, his second kickoff return in four games this season.
New fan favorite Danny Woodhead continued his magical run with his second touchdown in as many games.Woodhead caught a short pass from Tom Brady and raced 10 yards into the end zone to stretch the game 27-14. Wes Welker continued his amazing comeback from a knee surgery earlier in the year as he led the Patriots with 8 receptions for 70 yards.
With the Patriots being short at the Running back position, the law offices of BenJarvus Green-Ellis had it all covered. Green-Ellis ran the ball 16 times for 76 yards for an average of 4.8 yards per carry. Danny Woodhead also carried the ball 8 times for 36 yards and a modest 4.5 yards per carry. Rex Ryan and the Jets, although loaded at the running back position, still has to be wondering if it was a wise decision to let the diminutive Woodhead go, and to a division rival at that.
Make no mistake about it, this was an all round effort by the New England Patriots as a team. They scored touchdowns on fffense, defense and special teams, a trifecta that all coaches aspire for. The fact that Tom Brady threw just 24 times completing 19 of those passes for a mere 153 yards tells the story even further. It looks like a typo when you consider the fact that the Patriots scored 41 points but Randy Moss did not record a catch let alone score a touchdown.
The Patriots were able to put their overly analyzed road woes to rest momentarily, playing an all-around game tonight as they assumed the “us against the world” approach. This often maligned young defense have shown so far that they have the potential to be great, and with time and some cohesion seem to be on their way to being a force to be reckoned with.
The Patriots couldn’t be going into the bye in a better way after this resounding victory tonight, however, it does not get any easy from here on out. The Baltimore Ravens come knocking two weeks from now at Gillette followed by San Diego and Minnesota Vikings. If the Patriots continue to improve on all aspect of the game like they did tonight they could very well come out of that brutal stretch unscathed.