Back in week 2, the New England Patriots built up a 31-3 lead over the Miami Dolphins roughly halfway through the third quarter. QB Jimmy Garoppolo suffered an injury and back-up QB Jacoby Brissett struggled to lead positive drives.
The Dolphins surged back with three straight touchdown drives and they cut the score to 31-24. Miami had one final shot at tying the game, but the Patriots intercepted QB Ryan Tannehill in the end zone.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wasn’t happy with the second half performance, but he wasn’t surprised.
“Well, I mean they have a lot of good players,” Belichick said about the Dolphins comeback. “They have a lot of disruptive players. They were able to turn the ball over. They have a lot of explosive players offensively so there’s a lot of that in this league. You see it’s so evenly matched sometimes it doesn’t go back and forth and have seven or eight lead changes. Sometimes one team gets out and then the other team comes back.
“But look, they’ve been the best second half team in the league and they’ve been a great fourth quarter team. They’ve done it multiple games throughout the course of the season so there has got to be something to it.”
Belichick is preparing his team for a full 60-minute battle against the Dolphins and it’s clear that he respects their ability to close a deficit in a hurry.
I’m just not quite sure why he’s calling the Dolphins “the best second half team in the league”
Unless he’s referring to “the best team in the second half of the season,” which is a debatable claim, there’s no real metric that says the Dolphins are the best second half team in the league.
Miami ranks 4th in the NFL in 3rd quarter points with 104 and 14th in 4th quarter points with 101. The 205 second half points ranks 6th in the league. That’s great production, but not “the best”. The Dolphins quarterbacks have also led 5 game-winning drives, which is tied for 3rd in the league behind the Lions (8) and the Raiders (7).
It also doesn’t help that the Dolphins rank 30th in first quarter points and 27th in the NFL in first half points. What Belichick is really saying is that the Dolphins frequently dig themselves into holes early in games, so they need second half surges in order to win- of which they’ve proven themselves capable.
The Patriots rank 1st in the NFL in first half point differential- and it’s not even close- so if the Patriots build up an early lead, they should be able to cruise to homefield advantage.