Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Revisiting Dec. 2 win over Dolphins
By Field Yates
We normally carve out space on Tuesday morning to introduce the Patriots' upcoming opponent, but Week 17 is a little bit different with the Patriots preparing for a rematch with the Miami Dolphins.
Those interested in re-visiting our Dolphins primer can check it out here (link here), but because most of the main names and faces remain the same for Miami just four weeks later, we're calling an audible and taking a look back at the Week 13 clash between the two teams.
Final score: Patriots 23, Dolphins 16 (recap here)
What it meant: The win gave the Patriots their fourth-consecutive AFC East title and sixth straight win at the time. It also improved them to 5-0 in AFC East play in 2012.
What went right: The defense played solid throughout the afternoon, and forced a turnover on a strip sack of rookie Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehiil. It also yielded just 277 yards of total offense to Miami on the day. The offense came up with a 7-minute, 18-second drive late in the fourth quarter to set up a field goal from Stephen Gostkowski that put the team up by 10 and the game largely out of reach. Wes Welker led the way with 12 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. On special teams, wide receiver Matthew Slater stood out and earned praise from head coach Bill Belichick (link here).
What didn't: The Patriots had their quietest day offensively in 2012, racking up "just" 321 yards of total offense. The running game struggled for much of the day, but came together on the final drive of the game. Receiver Brandon Lloyd was targeted just once in the game, and the offensive line yielded four sacks of Brady. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer had some struggles against defensive end Cameron Wake. Gostskowski missed a field goal.
Player of the game: Defensive end Trevor Scott. The veteran registered two sacks in his first start of the season for the Patriots as he filled in for Jermaine Cunningham, who served the first of a four-game suspension. Scott also came up with a tackle for loss on the day.
Other notes: Wide receiver Julian Edelman went down with a broken foot in the game, and later landed on season-ending injured reserve. Tight end Rob Gronkowski sat out his second game due to a broken forearm. Donald Thomas started in place of Logan Mankins at left guard, who was out due to injury.