Here are our winners and losers from the Patriots 31-24 victory over the Dolphins.
Winner: QB Jimmy Garoppolo
What more can be said about the young quarterback that hasn’t already been said? He was almost perfect on the day, going 18 for 27 (66.7%) for 234 yards and 3 touchdowns. That’s a 130.8 passer rating for those keeping track.
Sidenote, back-up Jacoby Brissett posted a passer rating of 100.2. That’s not bad, either.
Winner: RB LeGarrette Blount
Blount collected 123 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. His 4.2 yards per carry was fine- nothing to write home about- but he put the team on his back when they needed him. The Patriots drained 4 minutes off the game clock with their final drive and Blount provided 8 carries for 35 yards. The Dolphins knew the Patriots were going to run the ball and they couldn’t stop them.
Winner: TE Martellus Bennett
The Black Unicorn posted 114 yards and a touchdown on 5 catches, but it was his blocking that caught the attention of head coach Bill Belichick- and for good reason.
Bennett is becoming a huge part of the offense.
Winner: LT Nate Solder
Solder played his first game in almost a year and he was clearly the best blocker on the Patriots. He was a dominant run blocker- Blount ran behind him for much of that clock killing drive- and he kept the pocket clean. It’s great to have him back.
Losers: Patriots cornerbacks Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, and Justin Coleman
According to NESN’s Doug Kyed, this trio had an awful day. Butler allowed 139 yards in coverage, Ryan gave up 51 and a 20-yard defensive pass interference call, and Coleman allowed 50 yards and a touchdown. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill walked down the field in the second half and the lackluster performance by this trio is a big reason why.
Winner: ED Chris Long
The Patriots didn’t have Dont’a Hightower to provide pressure up the middle, so Long took it upon himself to destroy the Dolphins from the edge. He hit the quarterback three times, collected a tackle for loss, a pass defended, a fumble recovery, and a few other pressures. What more could you ask of him?
Loser: S Patrick Chung
Chung was battling injuries during the final quarter, but Tannehill threw in his direction a few times on the final drives and on crucial third down plays, and Chung wasn’t able to make a stop. Tannehill was 5 of 6 for 69 yards and a touchdown when throwing at Chung, per Kyed.
Loser: K Stephen Gostkowski
Gostkowski is supposed to be Mr. Automatic and he finds himself in the negative category because he missed the chance to end the game. He shanked a 39-yard field goal attempt with 1:08 left in the game that would have given the Patriots a two-score lead. The Patriots needed a Duron Harmon interception in the end zone to save the day.
Winner: S Duron Harmon
Harmon broke up a pass, almost recorded an interception on another, and saved the game with an interception in the end zone. Harmon seems to have a knack for collecting these game-ending interceptions and he’s playing himself into a nice paycheck this offseason.