This was a tale of two halves. During the first half, the Patriots scored 10 points off turnovers and 17 unanswered points; however, Miami gained momentum immediately before halftime after the Patriots gracelessly managed to work their way down field for a 47-yard field goal. Their clumsy drive was a prelude of things to come.
While I’m not sold on the Dolphins making a run for the division crown, I am sold on the Patriots’ glaring weaknesses on their offensive and defensive lines. Both were issues last year, and both appear to be issues again this year
While the Patriots’ offense looked solid in the first half, putting up 248 yards and 20 points, it did absolutely nothing in the second half, and that is an understatement. New England’s offense has play makers, but it also has glaring flaws along the offensive line, which could ultimately inhibit those play makers from, well, making plays. The Dolphins found those weaknesses, holding the Patriots to 89 total rushing yards and recording four sacks. All four sacks came in the second half to end key drives, which decimated any potential momentum to pull off a Patriots’ comeback.
Just to end on a positive note, let’s quickly turn our attention back to the first half when the Patriots pretty much rolled to a 20-10 half time lead. They ended drives of 80 and 94 yards with touchdowns and sandwiched in a quick field goal after linebacker Jerod Mayo recovered a fumble on Miami’s 35-yard line.
Again, it was a tale of two halves for the Patriots. During the first half, New England took advantage of three key defensive turnovers and turned them into 10 points. In the second half, the defense surrendered 23-unanswered points and looked as if it had reverted back to its dismal 2013 form. (Spare me the horror.) While the Patriots did hold Tannehill’s offense to 138 total yards during the first half and his passing attack to 178 yards by game’s end, they also surrendered 235 total yards in the second half.
Halves, halves, halves is what this segment is all about.
So, why the sudden collapse later in the game? The answer is simple: The Dolphins used a very heavy dose of running backs Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller. In the first half, Moreno carried the ball eight times and Miller five, and in the second, the Dolphins increased Moreno’s total by 15 carries and Miller’s by seven. Together they tallied 193 yards on 35 carries.
Special Teams Snapshot
If I was Darren Rizzi, Special Teams Coordinator for the Dolphins, I would have taken note of how the Patriots released and then resigned Danny Aiken prior to the start of the season. For whatever reason, the Patriots were either unhappy with Aiken’s preseason performance or had thought someone (possibly Ninkovich) offered slightly more value at the position. In any case, it was an afterthought for most people, but became an eventual disaster