The New England Patriots crushed the Miami Dolphins 35-14 in the season finale. This is what we learned.
QB Tom Brady had no problem with the Dolphins defense
Miami was playing without their two starting safeties and a starting linebacker, all on the injured reserve. They rested CB Byron Maxwell, LB Jelani Jenkins, and DE Mario Williams. Brady was not facing the Dolphins top defensive unit.
Brady still completed 25 of 33 (75.8%) for 276 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a passer rating of 130.4. Brady might not win MVP, but he was definitely the best quarterback in the NFL. The Patriots only threw two interceptions all season, a new NFL record.
WR Julian Edelman had the best day, year of his career
Edelman collected 8 receptions for 151 yards and a touchdown, and added another rush for 6 yards. Edelman’s previous best was 141 receiving yards and 145 yards from scrimmage in 2014 against the Chargers.
Edelman finishes the year with a career-best 1,106 receiving yards on 98 receptions, along with 3 touchdowns. He added 57 rushing yards. He’s come a long way since his foot injury early in the year.
WR Michael Floyd made the two most noteworthy plays of the day
Floyd joined the Patriots after he was arrested for driving under the influence and released by the Arizona Cardinals. He also made the two most physical plays for the Patriots all day.
First, he dragged half the Dolphins defense into the end zone...
...and then he cracked a Dolphins defender to spring Edelman for a 77-yard touchdown run.
Floyd might not leapfrog over Malcolm Mitchell in the playoffs depth chart, but he’s certainly made a case for a one-year trial with the Patriots in 2017.
ED Trey Flowers was the Patriots best defender all day
Flowers picked up 5 tackles on the day, including four solo, and hit the quarterback twice. All five of those tackles were for stops, including two for just 1 yard, and another for no gain. Flowers has certainly, ahem, bloomed this year.
The Dolphins only averaged 3.3 yards per carry on the day, a great sign of things to come for the Patriots.
The Patriots secondary squished the fish
Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry recorded 9 receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. QB Matt Moore completed 70.6% of his passes and picked up 2 touchdowns. This is all because the Patriots secondary did an excellent job.
The only way Miami was able to move the ball was with low crossers in front of the linebackers and the cornerbacks locked down both sidelines for most of the game. The Patriots did a good job of stopping the Dolphins receivers all day.