Postgame, Week 7: New England 49 @ Miami 28

Fish .. Squished
Boston Returns as Hub of Sports Universe

I say this with all sincerity: Enjoy this.

I hate to sound so Private Ryan-esque, but this could be a very special time in history, not just for New England sports fans, but for American sports entirely.

  • The Boston Red Sox came back from a 3-1 deficit in Major League Baseball's American League Championship Series.
  • The New England Revolution begin pursuit of a title in the Major League Soccer playoffs Saturday.
  • The Boston College Eagles football team is ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Bowl Championship Series.
  • Your New England Patriots are now 7-0 and rewriting the National Football League record book just shy of the season's halfway point.
  • The Boston Bruins are 5-2 early in the National Hockey League season.
  • The Boston Celtics were Patriot-like in the offseason, contracting the services of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to team up with perennial All-Star, Paul Pierce, and the C's have sky-high expectations.

Boston is once again the Hub of the Universe.

P1hotobucket - Video and Image Hosting49 - - - P1hotobucket - Video and Image Hosting28

Before we return our attention to your New England Patriots, I want to encourage you to visit a couple of my brother sites on the Sports Blogs Nation network:

  • Over The Monster, SBN's home of the World Series-bound Boston Red Sox
  • Green Bandwagon, home of the greatest franchise in sports history, the Boston Celtics
The BC Eagles, Boston Bruins and New England Revolution remain unrepresented, so if you're interested or know of any solid existing blogs, drop me a line.

Now about the Patriots and yesterday's shellacking ...

Rise of The Animal -- Patriots receiver Wes Welker muscles his way past Miami's Renaldo Hill during the second quarter Sunday. Welker had 9 catches for 138 yards and 2 TDs.

Photo courtesy: Boston Herald / Nancy Lane

With all respect due the team with the only undefeated NFL season ever, the Patriots and Dolphins were hardly playing the same game. New England obliterated Miami for 30 minutes before allowing them to come up for air. For all the hot air about the Patriots running up the score, it was all they and Bill Belichick could do not to utterly embarrass the Dolphins.

It was like watching an old WWF match when the villain would beat the snot out of the "good guy," pin him for a two-count and then pick him off the canvas to continue the punishment. Except the Patriots had not the luxury of pinning Miami. So they held them at arm's length and left them bloodied, but not broken. When the Dolphins chose to fight back late -- which I completely expected and would have lost respect for them if they didn't -- New England delivered another power slam, effectively ending the match.

It wasn't fair, but Miami was the opponent on the schedule, so that was the team New England played -- as many a dominant team has done before.

"It's not fair" was a common phrase used up and down the eastern seaboard Sunday, as millions watched Randy Moss snatch two deep balls away from pairs of defenders in the end zone as though he were the only one there among a couple mosquitos. As amazing as was that catch, the most amazing catch was an incompletion out of the back of the end zone. Tom Brady threw one of his many perfect passes -- did you see those spirals? -- but this one was just a little too deep. Moss stretched out his right hand like a frog stabbing at a flying insect and snatched the ball out of the air. That was one of just 4 incompletions.

Two Sides of the Same Coin -- Patriots inhuman wide receiver Randy Moss hauls in a touchdown reception in double coverage of Sunday's 49-29 obliteration of Miami. Moss is becoming mythical in NE.

Photo courtesy: Boston Globe / AP and Reuters

Miami had shown no ability to stop any other team's passing game -- well, except for Oakland and Daunte Culpepper, who won despite the leading passer being Miami's Trent Green who had 158 yards -- had no chance of stopping Brady, Moss, Donté Stallworth and former Dolphin Wes Welker. Moss caught just four passes, two for touchdowns, and still broke the 100-yard barrier (122).

But four catches meant that Moss wasn't open often. He wasn't even open on the two touchdowns, but when you decide to throw deep, you throw deep. Just that now Brady has one of the great receivers in the game.

But most of the rest of the time, Moss was covered, so Brady, a master at finding the open man, found the open man. And boy were they open. Sorry, I already covered this.

Despite the gaudy passing numbers, the Patriots offense was relatively balanced. New England ran 28 passing plays and 22 rushing plays. Laurence Maroney (playing at less than 100 percent), Kevin Faulk and Kyle Eckel ran the ball six times each, and Heath Evans carried it four times.

Nowhere to Run -- Patriots safety James Sanders and linebackers Junior Seau and Adalius Thomas swarm toward Miami running back Ronnie Brown during Sunday's action

Photo courtesy: Boston Globe / AP photo

And despite the final statistics, the defense played very well. At the half, Miami had 70 yards on the ground and 76 in the air. That included a 79-yard drive from the end of the first quarter to the start of the second. That left the Dolphins with 67 yards in the other 25 minutes.

The Patriots offense was so overpowering, Miami actually led in time of possession -- slightly at halftime (15:25 to 14:35) and tremendously at game's end (35:05 to 24:55). What that means is that New England toyed with the Dolphins. They allowed them to hold onto the ball in the second half.

They held them at arm's length.

Each team had seven possessions in the first half (if you count Willie Andrews's kickoff return for a touchdown. New England scored on six of them, including the return. And they scored quickly, putting the ball in Miami's hands. Excluding the one long drive, the Patriots shut down Miami, limiting the Dolphins to drives of 5, 3, 4, 3, 5 and 1 play.

In the second half, each team had just four possessions. That's because New England didn't storm down the field and run up the score. That's because the defense didn't annihilate Miami, impose their will and stop them in their tracks. Miami had drives of 14, 10 and 11 plays over the third quarter and start of the fourth. It wasn't halftime adjustments.

Objects in Rearview Mirror -- So much for kicking away from Ellis Hobbs. The Dolphins saw nothing but taillights as Willie Andrews returned a kickoff 77 yards.

Photo courtesy: Boston Herald / Nancy Lane

And when Matt Cassel allowed Miami a free touchdown and Brady reassumed control, the Patriots sped down the field: four plays, four first downs, 60 yards, 1 touchdown, 2:19 off the clock. Score at will.

And then the defense held Miami at arm's length so as not to punish them.

There's little doubt in many people's minds that the final score easily could have been 63-14 or 70-14. But for all the complaining, Belichick and the Patriots did not run up the score.

Meanwhile, "old man" Tedy Bruschi led the Patriots with 10 solo tackles, tacking on a pair of assists. Brother geriatric, Rodney Harrison, was second, tied with Adalius Thomas, with 7 solos, including a sack, and an assist. But with just three sacks, an interception, only 4 passes defended, and no forced fumbles, one may think the defense didn't show up.

Look at Miami's first-half possessions again. There was only one drive on which the defense had many opportunities to do those things. And in the second-half prevent defense, there was little opportunity or motivation for such. Randall Gay's interception was the epitome of bend-don't-break defense, nabbing Cleo Lemon's pass in the end zone.

The beauty of it is that Patriots fans have had not to sweat out the last-minute 2-point victories. Many of us certainly miss Brady and company's unbelievable comeback wins, but these new-fangled comfortable wins are sitting just fine with us.

By the way, during ESPN's Monday Night Countdown, two real coaches, Bill Parcells and Mike Ditka, said Belichick was justified in sending Brady back in the game in the fourth quarter. They said people should stop whining, and (in Ditka's words) "if teams don't want the score run up against them, play better."

So disregard the sour grapes. Ignore the whining, the condescension. Your New England Patriots pay no mind. And there's one other thing they do that you should as well:

Enjoy this.

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