So the Patriots played extremely well. They went into Florida and they're coming back with a 41-14 victory. They are the first team in NFL history to score a touchdown rushing, passing, on a kick return, on an interception return and on a blocked kick return. They played their first complete game of the season and have to be happy with the result. Here are my notes from the game.
Oh, and special teams wins the game. Coach Scott O'Brien deserves a steak. Pat Chung and Brandon Tate were incredible.
Danny Woodhead (my nickname: Buzz) went to infinity and beyond all game. I hope he's in the long term plans of the Patriots because he has play making ability.
Tom Brady managed the game well. He wasn't needed to have a monster game, but he didn't mess-up, which means just as much.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis had an extremely efficient game. He hits the hole hard, has great vision and only needs to make one break to get yardage.
Wes Welker - welcome back. He had a solid game to catch the ball and move the chains.
Randy Moss was not seen in the receiving game, but he was in on most blocks and drew coverage.
Sebastian Vollmer had a rough time covering Cameron Wake, but that was a universal struggle for the entire offensive line. He needs to figure out how to handle the pass rushers with quick bursts because he seemed a little lost when Wake used his spin move or ran around him.
The Patriots got lucky on a non-call to continue the drive at the end of 3rd quarter. Cameron Wake was wreaking havoc all game and LT Matt Light got lucky with a non-call on a hold. He "hooked" Wake, which is clearly against the rules. That said, the Patriots were marching the ball down the field at will and still score.
Special Teams Notes:
Stephen Gostkowski had one heck of a game. He kicked the ball out of the end zone on most of his kick offs, nailed two field goals and was money on extra points.
Zoltan Mesko had an okay day punting (great first punt, okay second and third punts), but he also did a great job handling the holds on field goals and extra point attempts.
Brandon Tate had a fantastic game, having an impact on offense as well as a great day on returns.
Special teams did a great job of preventing the Dolphins from starting with good field position and gave the Patriots offense great field position.
Defensive Notes after the Jump!
Solid job by the secondary today. I didn't see Darius Butler in on any action all game (until the end), but Kyle Arrington did well enough in coverage (usually with safety help above or linebacker help underneath). Devin McCourty played a very complete game. He was great against the run, solid against the pass and was rarely heard from all game- which means Chad Henne wasn't throwing in his direction. Pat Chung was a super hero. Oh, and Jarrad Page got an interception.
James Sanders, on the other hand, is playing because of necessity, not because he's a good player. The Patriots need to find a substitute for him.
Speaking of substitute, that should be Brandon Meriweather who had a much better game.
Oh, Pat Chung. Two punts blocked, Pick 6 and the 'Phins made sure to stay away from him. He earned some All-Star votes. Are people still wishing the Patriots drafted Louis Delmas or Jairus Byrd?
Jerod Mayo is back to defensive player of the year style, ending plays at the line of scrimmage and making every tackle he could. I did not see him miss a tackle. Body tackles are the way to go.
Rob Ninkovich, for all the crap I give him, is a great passing down outside linebacker. He's not big enough to set the edge against the run, but he's a monster against the pass. He can get to the quarterback and he can get to the ball. If it weren't for Pat Chung, Ninkovich would be the player of the game. I still think he should be a passing down OLB, but he has shown his potential.
Jermaine Cunningham had a fantastic game. He generated a lot of pressure, was solid against the run, knocked down a pass and tackled a guy for a loss. Very solid game for a player learning his role.
Mike Wright also had a solid game against the pass, with a knock down on a pass and a sack. He's still a liability against the run as the Dolphins made a point to run against him.
The defensive line was quiet again as the defense used a variety of looks. They rarely kept to the Ron Brace - Vince Wilfork - Gerard Warren line and threw Mike Wright, Brandon Deaderick, Myron Pryor and bunch of other looks. However, they did a solid job of forcing Chad Henne to release the ball before his receivers could get down field.
The defense continues to learn the Bend-Don't-Break style of play and they're doing a much better job. If they can put together a couple defensive games like this, then the team will receive a lot more respect.
Oh, and the Patriots outscored the Dolphins 35-7 in the second half. Yeah.