LeGarrette Blount's strong effort in Week 14 (8 carries for 42 yards and 1 catch for 32 yards) was rewarded with more opportunities the following Sunday. The running back started in favor of lead back Stevan Ridley and got the ball for the first four plays of the drive. All 5 of his carries were strong and he averaged 5 yards per run. New England's passing game was not as impressive (Tom Brady started 6-for-9) and the team settled for 3 points on the drive. Blount's early efforts were positive, however.
MOST SPECIAL EFFORT
Special teams play doesn't often get the credit it deserves. But that's why we have superlatives! Ryan Allen's second punt in the game was well-hung and came down at Miami's 6-yard line. The field position was excellent for New England's defense and the drive went nowhere. Well, the drive went 8 yards on three plays and the Dolphins had to boot the ball away. Brandon Fields followed up with an excellent punt of his own and Miami's punt team covered at New England's 2-yard line. Excellent efforts by both players.
BEST EXAMPLE OF SPEAKING TOO SOON
Fields punted well in the first half -- you can't take that away from him. But he had a bizarre flub in the second quarter that seriously hurt Miami. The Dolphins had a chance to even the score when they got into field goal formation at New England's 24-yard line. Somehow, Fields wasn't on the same page as the long snapper and he was looking at quarterback Ryan Tannehill when the ball was snapped. The football hit him square in the face and bounced away. Patriots special teamer Nate Ebner recovered. Not only did Fields' pride take a hit, but Miami missed out on some big points.
MOST SURPRISING PLAY
Michael Hoomanawanui reintroduced himself to game day action with an incredibly athletic move in the second quarter. The tight end has been inactive on Sundays since injuring a knee in New England's Week 11 game in Carolina. The joint didn't seem to bother him at all when Brady targeted him in the back of the end zone under the two minute warning. Brady put the ball only where Hoomanawanui, who was covered, could reach it and the tight end turned and skied to corral the ball with his right hand. The one-handed touchdown grab put an exclamation mark on a 7-play, 69-yard scoring drive and extended New England's lead to 10-0.
MOST UNFORTUNATE INJURY
When cornerback Kyle Arrington went to the sideline, it didn't appear he was coming out of the game for good. Arrington took to the turf to get stretched out (possibly the groin injury that's given him trouble before) by trainers but didn't take to the locker room. But his absence hurt the Patriots immediately. Marquice Cole subbed in and took on standout receiver Mike Wallace. Wallace got the inside angle on Cole and set off on his route. Safety Steve Gregory was too far upfield and couldn't do a thing to help. Tannehill found Wallace wide open for a 39-yard touchdown bomb. The extra point made things real tight at 10-7.
LEAST SURPRISING STAT
Of the first half? Three sacks for the Patriots. No quarterback in the NFL has been sacked more than the 47 times Ryan Tannehill has been. Part of Miami's problem has been the offensive line Even though New England hasn't blitzed much this season, pressure was key in the team's second-half comeback against Miami in October, and they employed it again this weekend.
A Stephen Gostkowski miss. New England's kicker is currently working on a career year, converting on 93.8 percent of his field goal attempts. Of his previous 32 attempts, one was boomed from 54 yards out to give Gostkowski a new career long. But he missed Sunday. Not only did he miss, but he missed from 48 yards out -- wide left -- to break a streak of 21-straight conversions made inside the 50-yards line. Worse? Miami scored 3 on its next drive to knot the score up at 10-all.
What the heck happened to Josh Boyce? The receiver had a solid game (3 catches for 49 yards) against the Browns when given more opportunities. He seemed to ride that momentum into Sunday's game against Miami with four good receptions, including a 30-yarder. But for some reason, he could't get his hands on anything else. Boyce had at least three drops of decent passes going into the fourth quarter.
Nobody wants to see athletes get hurt. Really. What kind of person does? But not all injuries bear the same weight. Kyle Arrington? He came back into the game in the second half after getting stretched on the sideline. Nate Solder was not so lucky. The Patriots starting left tackle suffered a concussion Sunday, his second in as many weeks. Concussions are a serious issue in every spot and the conversation about player safety is certainly ongoing in the NFL. New England announced Solder would not return to the game.
Again. New England's streak of second-half comebacks was broken Sunday in Miami. When the Dolphins went up 24-20 with 75 seconds left in regulation, it seems Brady was destined for another heroic Sunday. Give a quarterback like that three timeouts and more than a minute to work with? It almost seemed too easy, considering the Patriots dug themselves out of tougher situations in the last three weeks. But all of Brady's touchdown attempts thrown from Miami's 14-yard line fell incomplete. His final effort, on fourth-and-5, landed right in the hands of third-string safety Michael Thomas. Picked off. Game over.