Found December 31, 2012 on
Boston Sports Then & Now:
New England Patriots
St. Louis Rams
Three weeks ago it seemed improbable that the Patriots would get a 1st round bye, but thanks to the Indianapolis Colts beating the Houston Texans on Sunday, and the patriots winning, they get to kick back and relax next week. Shortly after the Colts defeated the Texans, the Patriots started their rout of the Miami Dolphins.
The Patriots did everything they were supposed to do and beat the Dolphins 28-0. The offense did its job. The Defensive did its job. To put it clearly it was a solid win.
Here are 3 keys from the game:
1.) The Patriots Running Game Showed up. It seems like it’s been awhile since the Patriots had a game in which the Running Backs were dominant against an opponent. In total the Patriots rushed for a total of 167 yards, as Stevan Ridley led the way with 74 yards on 20 carries, and had two touchdowns. Shane Vereen who hasn’t made much of an impact lately came up big, rushing for 38 yards, and Brandon Bolden also contributed 26 yards, 24 of which came on a single rush attempt. Although it was nice to see the Patriots running game again, it’s important to note this was only against the Dolphins, and they put up similar numbers against them just 3 weeks ago.
2.) The Patriots Defense Had its Best Performance of the Year. For the first time all season, the Patriots threw a shutout. Prior to not allowing Miami to score all game, the least amount of points given up by the Patriots was 7 against the St. Louis Rams in London in week 8. When the Patriots played in Miami earlier this month, they defense gave up 16 points, and although Dolphins Quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, had more yards on Sunday than he did in week 13 against the Patriots, he wasn’t able to find the end zone.
The Patriots defense was also able to get the Dolphins Quarterback fairly easily as they sacked Tannehill 7 times for a total loss of 26 yards. Defensive End, Justin Francis, had 3 sacks of his own. In 9 prior games Francis played in this season, he hadn’t recorded a single sack. The Patriots weren’t just stopping the air game but also the run game. The defense only allowed 20 yards rushing in the first 3 quarters of the game, and in total only ended up giving 47 yards on the ground.
3.) Not Turning the Ball over always Works out Well. It looked as though the Dolphins would get on the scoreboard after what appeared to be a Wes Welker fumble and Dolphins recovery which was run back into the end zone. After the official reviewed the play it was called an incomplete pass by the Brady. That was the closest the Patriots came to turning the ball over all game. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots had 2 takeaways, one was a Steve Gregory interception of Tannehill, and the second was a fumble recovery by Dont’a Hightower at the Patriots 1 yard line as Miami was trying to punch in a touchdown. The Patriots now finish the season with the best turnover differential in the NFL with +20. When they lost to the 49ers a few weeks ago, the Patriots gave up 2 more turnovers than the 9ers, and lost by 1 score. Whenever you can force more turnovers than give up, you are always in better shape, and if the Patriots can keep generating their opponents turnovers in the playoffs, winning should come easy.
The Patriots first playoff game is scheduled for Sunday January 13th at 4:30pm at home and they will either be playing the Texans, Ravens, or Colts, depending on what happens next week on Wild Card weekend. By earning the coveted first round bye, the Patriots road to the Super Bowl has just gotten a bit easier.
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