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Patriots vs. Dolphins: Fan Notes from the Game

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Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots’ 27-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Welp... that’s why you play the game, I guess.

In an absolute shocker, the Miami Dolphins took care of business at home against the New England Patriots to pull off the upset. Whatever the Dolphins have decided to call their stadium in any given week continues to remain a house of horrors for Tommy B, and based on how thoroughly the Dolphins dismantled the New England offense and worked around the New England defense, you have nothing to really do here but tip your cap, acknowledge that the better team won last night, and get back to work. The Fins put together their best game of the season, while New England played their worst - in no small part to the way Miami handled them - and the results are a relative blowout. Oh well.

Gonna keep the Fan Notes short today, as the sooner we can all forget that this game happened, the better off we’ll all be.

  • Absolutely everyone and their grandmothers, including me, picked the Patriots to win this one. Few things make me more nervous than that. I was unnaturally preoccupied with this game all weekend and all day yesterday, but I just kept dismissing it as pregame jitters. This game just didn’t pass the smell test for so many reasons. And “smell” is definitely the word to use, because the Patriots just flat out STUNK last night. Pee Yooou.
  • I hate Monday night games - but man do I love me some John Gruden. The relentless positivity is infectious. You always think he’s done talking, and then he suddenly has another four words to say.
  • Miami was able to score on their opening possession by running a lot of quick slants to take advantage of a depleted linebacker corps. They also utilized the edges to match speedy guys on slower guys to gain positive yards after catch. Pretty impressive overall. Definite cap tip situation there. In fact, it worked so well, they just decided to do that over and over again until the final whistle mercifully blew.
  • Can’t start much worse than New England did; cede a long drive that ended in points, a run stuff on first down, a blitz on second down, a pick on third down, then Miami marched right back down the field and scored again.
  • The Patriots tried to operate out of a 2WR shotgun set in order to maximize protections, relying on receivers to gain separation. It failed spectacularly, allowing Miami to rush a lot more than the Patriots could block and no receivers open due to the lack of bodies downfield.
  • As much as this loss doesn’t matter in the slightest long-term, it’s rare that you see a team completely impose their will the way that the Dolphins did last night against the Patriots. By the time the Fins were up 17, there was just no fight left whatsoever.
  • The lone bright spot for me last night was the Asian guy who gets excited when turnstiles don’t turn. That guy can play for my team any day.
  • As much as I enjoyed Gruden gushing over that one-handed Dion Lewis grab like it was a play they drew up, make no mistake: Brady felt pressure and just tossed it up, which he is prone to do at times. Lewis made an incredible play, and that was pretty lucky. That lucky catch and a questionable DPI call on Brandin Cooks to set up New England’s first TD of the night more or less made up the entirety of their best drive of the game.
  • I think I’ve figured out the secret to making Jay Cutler an effective quarterback: give him LITERALLY ALL DAY TO THROW.
  • The NFL is a copycat league and has been for years. To see the Dolphins spread the Patriots linebackers out, create mismatches in coverage with the running backs, and exploit the defense where it’s weak is both flattering and infuriating.
  • There was nobody in a Patriots uniform that was able to do anything on the edge, due to injury and overall talent level, and the Fins attacked that masterfully. Slants and crosses were there all day as linebackers spent the bulk of the game turning around in a circle, trying to figure out where they were.
  • Does this maybe signify the end of the Jonathan Freeny era in New England? Please? Can you really tell me that David Harris wouldn’t have played any better?
  • When Jay Cutler, in between bootleg rollouts, is able to deftly avoid the sack, scramble, throw across his body, and pick up the first down, it’s time to accept that it just isn’t your night.
  • As someone who never at any point gave two shakes of a dead rat’s patoot about Star Wars, it was never that hard to just let the fans nerd out and mind my own business. But now that it would appear that they’re going to be making a new Star Wars movie every eight minutes or so, it’s really getting draining. I finally got around to watching the first three movies a little over a year ago, hoping that maybe I’d catch the bug, but no dice.
  • It’s absolutely remarkable how different this offense is without Gronk. Miami was able to play press coverage at the line and blitz at will, knowing that the middle of the field was free of seven foot behemoths. The receivers couldn’t get any separation and the Dolphins were able to just swarm the line. Not to make an excuse, because the way the Patriots played last night I don’t think they win with Gronk, Edelman, or Hightower, but this year more than any other, if Gronk goes down, this team could be in trouble.
  • I’m legitimately surprised that neither Jay Cutler nor Adam Gase got Gatorade baths after this game. That’s usually what happens when a team takes the Patriots out. But regardless, congrats to the Fins on brilliant gameplanning and flawless execution. To beat the Patriots, you have to play as close to perfect as physically possible, and Miami did just that last night.
  • If your idea of great sports analysis is a hot take that Brady is finally starting to show his age and his inevitable decline has finally begun and the Patriots now need to be really, really worried, well then you are in luck! Might I suggest you spend a lot of time on ESPN over the next few days to get your fill.
  • I wish I could remember what happened the last time all the talking heads over at the World Wide Leader wrote Tom Brady off...

We’re on to Pittsburgh. The winner of next week’s game is likely hosting the AFC Championship, so no time to linger here.