The New England Patriots defeated the Miami Dolphins 35-17 and move on to 9-2 for the 2017 season. The Patriots blew the Dolphins out of the water, but sloppy play prevented the scoreboard from reflecting how much New England was in control.
Here are our instant takeaways from the game.
Dion Lewis is clearly the Patriots best running back
Lewis picked up 112 yards on 15 carries (7.5 YPC) and caught one pass for 1 yard. Compared to Rex Burkhead- 50 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries (3.8 YPC) and 3 yards and a touchdown on 2 catches- or James White- 13 yards on 3 carries and 2 yards on 1 catch- and Lewis is currently playing on an different level.
The Patriots continue to use Lewis and Burkhead in a rotation, with Burkhead getting the edge in short-yardage situations and White getting the two-minute drill and third down opportunities. Lewis is just the most explosive option and deserves the most touches.
Tom Brady had a quiet day with 4 touchdown passes
Brady was battered by the Dolphins pass rush all day, but still managed to have a quietly impressive outing. Brady completed 18 of 28 passes (64.3%) for 227 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception, with a passer rating of 114.1. It didn’t matter that he was hit seven times (Cameron Wake recorded five hits) and sacked on Cameron Fleming’s first play replacing LaAdrian Waddle at right tackle.
Brady was flexing his throwing hand after hitting a helmet during one of those hits, but New England felt comfortable just handing the ball off to Lewis and letting Brady cap the drive off in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on all five trips. The Patriots need a healthy offensive line fast.
Patriots injuries rack up and start to hurt
SS Nate Ebner suffered a knee injury. LB Trevor Reilly suffered a head injury. LB Marquis Flowers suffered a lower leg injury, but was able to return. DL Trey Flowers suffered a rib injury. RT LaAdrian Waddle suffered an ankle injury. LB Kyle Van Noy suffered a leg injury.
Add in C David Andrews, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Martellus Bennett, WR Chris Hogan, CB Eric Rowe, and WR Matthew Slater, who were all inactive on Sunday due to the injuries, and there’s a long list of problems ahead, particularly on the offensive line and in the defensive front seven.
Hopefully none of these injuries are too serious and that they will be able to return soon. It’s important to note that seven of the Dolphins points came on an errant snap by back-up center Ted Karras. These injuries directly led to points for Miami.
New England pass rush decided to show up
Elandon Roberts and Trey Flowers both had two sacks. Kyle Van Noy recorded a sack and another quarterback hit. Jonathan Jones recorded a 15-yard sack on a cornerback blitz. Marquis Flowers should’ve been given half a sack on one of Trey Flowers’.
Even the newest Patriots, Eric Lee, recorded a sack. It was nice to see New England active in the Miami backfield and not allowing back-up quarterback Matt Moore to have too much time in the pocket and holding the Dolphins to 2 of 11 on third down attempts and a mere 221 total yards.
Can the Patriots keep this up moving forward? Well, Van Noy and Trey Flowers left the game with injuries and that would put a big damper on the New England pass rush. It was still nice to see Elandon Roberts record the first and second sacks of his career.
Bill Belichick will have plenty to be unhappy about
The Patriots have won their past three games coming out of the bye week by an average score of 36.3-13.7, but head coach Bill Belichick will have a lot to pick apart with the team’s performance this week.
Ted Karras’ bad snap was bad and costly. Ryan Allen’s punt that ended up as a touchback and a mere 19-yard net was bad. Tom Brady’s interception was bad. The Patriots 4th-and-1 attempt was bad. Four fumbles were bad. Seven penalties were bad.
Belichick will have a nice humble pie baked for the Patriots after Thanksgiving and as New England heads down the final five games of the season.