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Week 14 Game Recap: New England Patriots 33, Miami Dolphins 34
What you need to know
-Gronk looks healthy, but it's still been a down season for him in terms of production and on-field receiving play.
-The defense once again forced the Pats to keep up, even with 2 blocked punts to their name. All phases of the game had blemishes, but the defense must be more consistent.
The Dolphins were not expected to hang with the Patriots this week, but they went punch for punch and pulled off the miracle at the end. A new running back emerged in the back field with Brandon Bolden
scoring 2 touchdowns and the trio accounting for over 100 total yards. Kenny Stills
finally emerged from his hibernation and broke out with his first 100-yard game and a touchdown since week 1. It was big play after big play for the Dolphins this week and in the end, they had a chance. It took a 2-lateral play with no time left on the clock and needing a touchdown to win. It was a highly improbable last play where the Patriots lapse in coverage cost them the game. Rather than play with dual deep safeties, they played it straight up and got burned in the end. With a Broncos loss, the Dolphins still have a chance to go to the playoffs. They have a tough game next week against the Vikings in Minnesota and then close the year with Jacksonville and Buffalo. They could easily finish the season 9-7 and be in the conversation for the final playoff spot.
New England Patriots
|QB Tom Brady, 82 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 43 - 358 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0|
played very well against the Dolphins, something that doesn't usually happen when in Miami. He was finding Gronk, Josh Gordon
, and Edelman at will, firing throws up and down the field. Granted, there were misses, but he looked better than he has during some weeks. His first touchdown was a short one to Edelman, who pirouetted on the route to get open, reminiscent of a similar route in the Super Bowl win over Atlanta. His second was an absolute laser shot to Cordarrelle Patterson
on a 40 yard deep ball in what had to be one of his best touchdown throws of the year. The third was (finally) a red zone touchdown to Gronk, where Brady stepped up to avoid pressure and threaded the needle to his tight end up high. Pressure was up and down, though the run game was stymied, meaning the Pats were fairly one dimensional in terms of success. Brady did have one huge blemish on the day, however. With seconds to go on the clock to end the first half, Brady took a sack with no timeouts left rather than throw the ball away, and he had plenty of opportunity to throw the ball away. It meant the Patriots missed out on a chip shot field goal try, and they ultimately went on to lose the game by 1. Not that the loss was Brady's fault, but a QB of his caliber needs to do better in that situation. He also missed a wide open Chris Hogan
for a touchdown because he threw off his back foot on the same drive. Still, his actual play was a promising sign, as was Gronk's involvement.
Michel found absolutely no room to run against the Dolphins, who simply didn't allow many holes to open up for him. Smart back 7 play sealed off the second level routinely, meaning that despite 20 attempts, Michel's long run was 9 yards. James Develin
did steal a touchdown again for a second week in a row, but the performance was the Dolphins simply beating the Pats when it came to the run game.
|RB James White, 33 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 13 - 0, Rec: 2 - 15 - 0 (4 targets)|
White wasn't involved like he normally is simply because Tom Brady
was finding open receivers in more intermediate parts of the field, and the short field connection was working with Julian Edelman
. As a result, his screen and short game wasn't needed as much.
was a big part of the reason the Pats had as many points as they did, working the short field particularly well against the Dolphins. He was targeted a whopping 12 times, and caught most of those targets, though many were single digit gainers to set up better situations. His touchdown was a spinning move mid-route that saw him get open on the side of the end zone against single coverage. Business as usual for one of Tom Brady
's top targets.
|WR Josh Gordon, 71 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 96 - 0 (8 targets)|
zeroed in on 3 receivers all day, and Josh Gordon
was one of those 3. He picked up plenty of yards after catch on his receptions, at one point gaining 10 more yards after a hit on his first catch. In particular, Brady targeted Gordon 5 times when a Dolphins rookie CB was matched up against him. There were no true deep shots or superhuman plays, but it's clear Gordon is an integral part of the offense.
C-Patt's play of note was a deep touchdown by Tom Brady
. Patterson outran his defender, and Brady fired an absolute laser with pinpoint accuracy. Patterson also missed another deep shot from Brady. As it stood, he was a bit player, but his role changes week by week.
The healthiest he's looked this season, Gronk had a good day at the office, catching a red zone score and taking a shot to the back by a defender looking no worse for wear. His red zone score was nice placement up high by Tom Brady
, and Gronk was beating his defenders on more than just that play. His health is a critical part of the Pats' success, and eyes will continue to look towards the playoffs for Gronk.
|QB Ryan Tannehill, 46 offensive snaps, Pass: 14 - 19 - 265 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 13 - 0|
After putting up a big goose egg in their first meeting, Tannehill played much better against the Patriots this week. He had almost 100 more yards through the air, added 3 touchdowns, and most importantly did not throw an interception. This was one of his best games of the season and it all had to do with the success of the big plays. The game started with Tannehill trading touchdowns will Brady on their opening drives. He found Kenny Stills
for an easy 7-yard touchdown to open the scoring. From there, things went a little south with a blocked punt and the Patriots scoring 21 points in the second quarter. Tannehill relied heavily on Brandon Bolden
and the run game for 2 touchdowns to keep the game close. After a crucial Patriots missed field goal, Tannehill found Brice Butler
for a 23-yard score down the sideline. He simply beat his man and sprinted for the end zone. Where things really went crazy was on the last play of the game. There were 16 seconds left on the clock before the snap and they would need every last second of it. Tannehill found Stills down the field for 14 yards, Stills lateraled to Parker who only made it another 3 yards before pitching it back to Drake, and Drake took it the final 52 yards down the field for the game winning touchdown. The replay officials reviewed the play to ensure all the laterals were backwards and that Drake did not step out before the end zone. The play was upheld, and the Dolphins took down their division rival. Tannehill lived by the big play this week and it worked out. He is going to have a tougher time against the Vikings next week in Minnesota, but with an outside chance of making the playoffs they will rely on him heavily.
|RB Frank Gore, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 92 - 0, Rec: 1 - 24 - 0 (1 targets)|
There was a clear pecking order in the back field today and Gore led the way. He saw twice as many carries as any other back and was the go to in almost every situation. Bolden may have broke the big run and scored the touchdown, but Gore got the hard yards between the tackles for first downs. His longest run of the day was 36 yards and that was 12 more than Drake had on all 6 of his carries. He also added a long 24-yard reception on his only target of the game. It was a game of big plays for the Dolphins and Gore had 2 of them. He was unable to find the end zone but helped set up the touchdowns by Stills and Bolden later in the game. Gore still has an outside shot at 1,000 yards for the season, but he will need 3 big games to close the year. He will have a tough matchup next week against the Vikings and then the following week against the Jaguars.
|RB Kenyan Drake, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 24 - 0, Rec: 1 - 55 - 1 (1 targets)|
It was a very slow game for Drake, until the final play of the game. He had only rushed for 24 yards and had not caught a pass until that final miracle play. His longest rush was 11 yards and he saw only 6 carries to Goreís 12. Bolden even had a better game and surpassed his yardage with a single run. None of that mattered after the final play when he sprinted 55 yards to the end zone. Tannehill found Stills across the middle, he lateraled to Parker, who then pitched it to Drake. He went down the sideline before cutting back inside and then back to the corner where he outran the defender for the final score. The play was reviewed and upheld as the game winning touchdown with no time left on the clock. Drake was an afterthought this week until that final big play.
|RB Brandon Bolden, 4 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 60 - 2, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (1 targets)|
It must be nice going up against your former team and having your best game of the season. Bolden carved up the Patriots for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns. He had a 54-yard scamper off tackle for a touchdown and then a 6-yard power run up the middle. He does not figure to cut into the crowded back field too much but should see more carries down the stretch. He currently has 3 carries for 70 yards and 2 touchdowns on the season. The split between Gore and Drake has been tough to predict and this is only going to make things more difficult.
|WR Kenny Stills, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 135 - 1 (9 targets)|
It has been a dreadful season for Still outside of week one and now this week against the Patriots. He surpassed 100 yards and had a touchdown for only the second time this season and has not come close any other week. His longest play of the game was a 43-yard reception down the sideline where he got pushed out of bounds before he could get into the end zone. He added a 7-yard reception for a touchdown after a 36-yard Frank Gore
run. Stills ran a quick out and a rolling Tannehill led him far enough to bet his man to the pylon for the score. Stills was the initial receiver on the final play that went for the game winning touchdown. He caught a 14-yard comeback route and lateraled to Parker as he was being tackled. It would have been easy to let the game end there, but he alertly got the ball to a teammate who had some room to run and it was the difference in the game.
There was not much to write home about with Parker and the Dolphins win today. He caught 1 of his 4 targets for 18 yards and did not seem to be in sync with Tannehill at all. His biggest play of the game was catching the lateral from Stills and then getting the ball to Drake who did the rest of the work. Things continue to trend downwards for Parker in Miami and he may benefit from a fresh start somewhere else next season.
It was a rough game for Amendola who caught his lone target for 10 yards and put the ball on the ground after getting hit. The fumble was not recovered by the Patriots, but it was the last ball he saw his way for the rest of the game. Amendola saw a huge jump with Brock Osweiler
under center but his since fallen back to earth with Tannehill. The two have not clicked this season and that does not look to change in the last 3 games.