So the win last night felt great, yet the defense seemed to let up at the end and almost allowed the Dolphins back into the game. I wanted to take a look at Miami's drive stats and see what was up, since I also felt that the defense looked good for a good portion of the night. Some of you may see I posted this in a few comments of a post-game thread, but I wanted to put it all in one place in case anyone was interested.
Chad Henne passed for 416 yards last night. However, 181 of those came on the Dolphins' final 4 possessions, the first of which began with 11:02 remaining in the 4th quarter and following a touchdown which puts the Patriots ahead 31-17. Henne did look very good at times, though, and in my opinion could be a far more motivated player following some of the things said about him this offseason.
Miami had 13 possessions, including a kneel down to end the first half. So out of 12 real possessions, they mounted 5 drives of more than 60 yards (the others were 31 yards or fewer). Of those 5 long drives, 3 came with less than 9 minutes to play in the game. They accounted for 213 yards but produced only 1 TD (4th down stop a half-yard line and Arrington INT at the end).
Prior to that point, Miami mounted drives of 84 and 87 yards, resulting in a TD and a FG. Those were their first possession of the game and their second possession of the third quarter. Their first possession of the second half came off the interception which set up a TD “drive” inside the Patriots’ 10 yard line. 6 of Miami’s first 9 substantive possessions ended with a punt.
What this all means is that if that INT doesn’t happen and our defense doesn’t lay off in the late 4th Quarter, this is a 38-10 game. Miami’s offensive stats came largely in garbage time. Belichick will no doubt emphasize the importance of playing a full 60 minute game this week in preparation for San Diego. If ever there was a game in which minimizing mistakes and capitalizing on those of your opponent could prove the difference, it would be against the Chargers.