The Miami Dolphins team that came to New England to play the Patriots in week 12 was terrible. They couldn’t run the ball. They couldn’t pass it to anyone other than Jarvis Landry. They couldn’t stop the run or the pass. They were a bad team that lost an ugly game 35-17.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick warns fans to expect a much different game this Monday night.
“We’re going to have to start all over again here,” Belichick said about playing the Dolphins. “We can’t pick up from where we left off. That’s not where we are. It’s not what we’re going to do. We just need to start all over again and have a good week, be ready to go here Monday night. It’s a good football team. They have a lot of talent.”
“I thought the first game was really a lot closer than the score indicated,” Belichick added. “The score was tight there in the fourth quarter until we made the stop on downs and got the touchdown on that last series. A good team, play hard, tough, explosive, got a lot of big-play players in all three phases of the game. It’ll be a big challenge for us.”
Belichick reminds that the Dolphins had closed the score to 28-16 with nearly 12 minutes left in the game, certainly enough time to mount a comeback. The fact that the Patriots scored a touchdown or that the Dolphins sandwiched that final touchdown with drives of 9, 19, -10, -1, 7, and 12 yards doesn’t matter. This Dolphins team had a chance!
When asked about how the Patriots will perceive the Dolphins differently in week 14, Belichick explained how Miami has changed.
“It was a different quarterback that we played,” Belichick started. The Patriots faced Matt Moore, while Jay Cutler is now back under center.
“[Kenyan] Drake – we’ll see where they are with [Damien] Williams – but Drake for sure carried the mail last week and did a great job of it,” Belichick added. Williams and Drake split time against the Patriots with each receiving 13 touch opportunities (targets + carries), and combining for 58 rushing yards, 41 receiving yards, and a touchdown.
Williams is dealing with a shoulder injury that he suffered against the Patriots, which opened the door for Drake to be the bellcow against the Denver Broncos. Drake picked up 120 yards and a touchdown on the ground and added 21 yards receiving. The Patriots haven’t been great at stopping the run this year, so they’ll be much more concerned about slowing down Drake.
“They’re not just going to run what they ran against us two weeks ago,” Belichick said about the Dolphins upcoming game plan. “We’ll see other things besides that, but it’ll probably be things that they’ve also shown at some other point in the season that if we’re really on it we’ll be ready for them.”
Belichick added that “there were a lot of things that we prepared for [in the first game] that didn’t show up in it that may come up this time, particularly if those situations present themselves differently than they did in this game two weeks ago,” so the Patriots will be ready if the Dolphins play a closer game.
But the bigger takeaway from Belichick is not that the Dolphins have made any great personnel changes, although switching quarterbacks is notable. It’s that the final score of 35-17 doesn’t reflect how Belichick thought the game actually played out. In other words, the Dolphins could have a couple bounces go in their direction that went in the Patriots’ favor two weeks ago and we’d have an entirely different final score.