Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Patriots were able to come back and beat the Miami Dolphins 27-17 Sunday for many reasons,
They shut out Miami, 24-0, in the second half because the defense throttled the Dolphins.
But New England also got 111 rushing yards in the second half to help offset a so-so passing game from Tom Brady. Stevan Ridley provided the spark with 56 of his 79 rushing yards in the second half while LeGarrette Blount had 42 of his 46.
"The holes were a little bit tight at first,'' said Ridley, who had the clinching touchdown run in the fourth quarter. "I think as the game progressed, the offensive line, we really started leaning on them aned some creases were in there.''
Chandler Jones blocked a field goal late in the game. Coach Bill Belichick said he comes close to doing it in practice all the time.
"He's gotten a few of those in practice,'' said Belichick. "That's one of the areas he's worked really hard on and it's really great to see him make that play in that situation.''
Jones said it was a matter of coaching.
"When Coach calls that play, I definitely try to focus on my technique,'' he said. "That's what he emphasizes, my technique. That's the biggest thing. The swim move, taking that jab step and swimming. And it came home free.''
The Patriots also got some huge plays from rookies.
Logan Ryan had two sacks, the first of which resulted in a fumble by Miami's Ryan Tannehill that was recovered by Rob Ninkovich, setting up the tying touchdown. Duran Harmon had an interception. Chris Jones has seven tackles and a sack and Joe Vellano had four tackles.
Safety Devin McCourty said they're really not rookies anymore.
"They've been through a full preseason, full training camp and eight games,'' he said. "They're still rookies on paper but they can't play like rookies anymore.''
Some notes for you to chew on while considering whether Tom Brady's swollen right hand has affected his throwing (he says it hasn't):
- The comeback from 14 points down at the half was the biggest by the Patriots since Dec. 24, 2011, when they rallied from 17-0 at the half to beat the Dolphins 27-24.
- The Patriots have won 14 consecutive AFC East games at home and are, in fact, 22-1 at home in October since the 2003 season.
- Tom Brady moved past Fran Tarkenton into fourth place on the NFL all-time touchdown pass list with 343 with his scoring pass to Aaron Dobson. He's tied with Drew Brees, who threw for five touchdowns on Sunday.
- Rob Ninkovich recovered his 11th fumble since 2010, tops in the NFL.
- The Patriots had a fumble recovery and two interceptions, extending their streak to 35 consecutive games with a forced turnover. It's the longer active streak in the NFL.
- Stephen Gostkowski kicked two field goals, extending his consecutive streak to 15. Adam Vinatieri holds the team record at 23.Tweet
Mike Lowe has covered the New England Patriots since 1999 for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and has had a nice view of their emergence as one of the NFL’s premier franchises.
He’s been at the paper since 1982 and has covered everything from a Little League World Series to the Summer Olympics. He is married to Tracie and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeLowePPH.