Patriots 27 Dolphins 24: Grading the Offense

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with teammate Donald Thomas #64 of the New England Patriots after Brady scored the first of two touchdowns against the Miami Dolphins in the second half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Grading the Patriots' offensive performance from the team's 27-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Passing Offense:

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was 7-19 in the first half, and really looked erratic on some of his throws. It's hard to blame him, however, as the team had guard Logan Mankins playing left tackle. And when he went down, the Patriots were playing two rookies and a fourth year guard who hadn't started a game since 2009 (Donald Thomas). While the pass protection was shaky in the first half, it did improve in the second half.

Part of that success was due to Patriots' switching to the no huddle attack on offense (slowing down pass rushers) and Tom Brady making quicker throws. And as bad as that first half passing performance was, it was that much better in the second half.

The Patriots put up 27 points and didn't have any interceptions. Tom Brady threw for 304 yards with Wes Welker having 12 receptions for 138 yards. The first half certainly brings down the grade, but the Patriots were nearly unstoppable through the air in the second.

Grade: B

Rushing Offense:

The Patriots' rushing attack was also a tale of two halves. The Patriots got little going in the first half, as the Patriots were constantly going three and out and failing to establish any type of rhythm on the ground. The team had just 33 yards rushing in the first half.

However, in the second half, rookie running back Stevan Ridley got things going for the Patriots. He ran the ball 11 times for 60 yards, and his powerful, explosive running was key in several Patriots scoring drives as the team ran for 119 total yards on 31 carries (9 for 17 and two touchdowns came from quarterback Tom Brady).

Grade: C+

Overall Offensive Grade: B-

There's no doubt that had the Patriots continued their first half offensive performance in the second, they would have received an "F." However, the unit deserves credit for really turning things around and changing the outcome of the game. In addition, the unit ended up winning the time of possession battle and didn't commit a single turnover. They also get credit for their final touchdown drive that gave the Patriots an essentially insurmountable 10 point lead with just five minutes to play. While I am still concerned about the unit's lack of enthusiasm out of the gates as of late, they are proving that they know how to close out games the right way.

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