December 2, 2012

Patriots: Ending up in the end zone

New England has an offense that may be the best the NFL ever has seen

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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From left, Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley and Wes Walker

Photos by The Associated Press

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New England Patriots (8-3) at Miami Dolphins (5-6)

WHEN: 1 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Sun Life Stadium, Miami

TELEVISION: Channel 13

WHEN: 1 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Sun Life Stadium

TELEVISION: CBS

SERIES RECORD: Dolphins lead 50-43

LAST MEETING: Patriots beat Dolphins 27-24, Dec. 24, 2011

LAST WEEK: Patriots beat Jets, 49-19; Dolphins beat Seahawks, 24-21

PATRIOTS OFFENSE: Overall -- 1, rush -- 6, pass -- 4

PATRIOTS DEFENSE: Overall -- 27, rush -- 10, pass -- 29

DOLPHINS OFFENSE: Overall -- 26, rush -- 16, pass -- 22

DOLPHINS DEFENSE: Overall -- 21, rush -- 7, pass -- 26

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES: Since 2001, Patriots have lost 15 games to AFC East teams. Seven of those defeats came against Miami. Miami's Brandon Fields ranks second in NFL in punting. New England's Zoltan Mesko is 28th. With a victory, Patriots would clinch the AFC East for the fourth consecutive season and would clinch their 12th winning season in row. ... New England has won 11 consecutive December games. ... The Patriots lead the NFL in points and yards per game. They're converting 53 percent of their third downs, best in the league. In past four weeks the Patriots have scored 190 points, more than four teams have totaled all year. ... In 420 pass attempts, Tom Brady has thrown three interceptions. ... In Miami last year, Brady threw for a team-record 517 yards, the most ever allowed by the Dolphins. ... Dan Carpenter's 43-yard field goal on the final play to beat Seattle last week was his fifth winning kick. ... The Dolphins rank third-best in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 40 percent. ... Over the past four seasons, the Dolphins are last in the NFL with 70 takeaways. They have none in the past four games. ... Opponents have 16 fumbles but Miami has recovered only three. ... Miami's Ryan Tannehill has passer rating of 59.1 on third down, worst among NFL starters.

– The Associated Press

WES WELKER

80 catches, 961 yards (12.0)

3 touchdowns

On pace for an NFL-record fifth season with 100-plus catches

STEVAN RIDLEY

206 rushes

939 yards (4.6 average)

8 touchdowns

On pace for more than 1,300 rushing yards, which would be fourth in team history

TOM BRADY

274 for 421 passing, 3,299 yards

24 touchdowns, 3 interceptions

Has thrown a TD pass in 43 straight games, the NFL's longest active streak

The Patriots aren't missing a beat, said wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, because "we have a very accomplished group of pass catchers. And when guys have been injured and guys have been down, we've been able to step in and continue to make plays. And Tom's doing a fantastic job of finding the open player."

On this team, just about anyone can expect to get a pass thrown to them. Wes Welker leads with 80 catches, and is on the verge of becoming the first player in NFL history with five 100-catch seasons. He's followed by the injured Gronkowski with 59. After that, Lloyd, Hernandez, Danny Woodhead and Julian Edelman have all contributed.

No one complains when the ball isn't coming their way, because they know it will eventually.

"I think that part of being part of a team and being part of an organization is being unselfish and doing what's best for the team, always," said Brady. "It's not what's best for the individual players or the individual position, it's how we're going to score the most points and in order to score the most points, we need to do what our job is.

"If your job is to run through the defense and clear out for another player, then you do that the best you can. We've found guys to be able to do those things. So it's not about rushing yards or passing yards or receiving touchdowns. It's about winning games."

Lloyd said the receivers understand what's expected.

"On this team, we believe in each other," he said. "We believe in the coaching staff. They put us in positions that we're comfortable in. We're not going to have to operate outside our comfort zone and we don't do things we're not good at."

Like Brady, Lloyd sees plenty of room for improvement in the offense.

"We just have to continue to remain consistent," he said. "We have to continue to make the plays when our number is called. We have to continue to get open. It's the same things."

It's the little things. And when all put together, they make up one of the best offenses in the NFL.

"It's cool, man," said Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty, of watching the Patriots' offense. "We know if we do our job, there's not a doubt in any of our heads that they're not going to do their job and put points up on the board." 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

mlowe@pressherald.com

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

 

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