NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas
“A tale of two halves.”
It may be an overused phrase seen across sports ledes, but it was the story of what transpired at Gillette Stadium on Sunday. The New England Patriots went into halftime down 17-3 to the Miami Dolphins in the Week 8 AFC East battle. Yet through the first 30 minutes, the on-field performance signified a larger disparity than the box score.
The Patriots were stagnant on both sides of the football; the offense had totaled just 25 pass yards while the defense had allowed 103 rush yards. And in the process, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer was lost to a gruesome leg injury, conjuring up the same season-ending reality that claimed defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Jerod Mayo.
Just when things hit rock bottom for head coach Bill Belichick and Co. – a booed three-and-out on New England’s opening third-quarter series – fortune switched sides. A sack by New England linebacker Dont’a Hightower snowballed into a missed field goal by Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis, and the Patriots responded with a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tom Brady wide receiver Aaron Dobson. Then, after Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill was strip-sacked by cornerback Logan Ryan, a two-yard score from running back Brandon Bolden tied the game.
Before the third quarter was over, the Patriots had propelled to a 20-17 advantage by way of a 48-yard field goal by kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The lead would not be relinquished, as New England went on to win, 27-17.
But if there was one play that defined the contrast between the first and second half of the Oct. 27 contest, it took place five snaps into the fourth: the assisted interception. (more…)