Best and worst: Patriots 35, Dolphins 14
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The best and worst from the Patriots' 35-14 win over the Dolphins, which enabled New England to finish the regular season at 14-2 and clinch the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.
BEST INDICATION IT’S A FOOTBALL GAME
On the Patriots first third down of the day, Tom Brady took off and gained six yards, picking up a first down which – after a week of hand-wringing, pearl-clutching and hymnal fanning about people’s activity levels – was good to see.
The Patriots converted three third downs and Tom Brady went 6-for-6 on the Patriots opening drive, a 13-play, 75-yard sojourn that gulped up 7:32 of game time.
APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY PLAY OF THE DAY
Michael Floyd caught a slant at the Miami 7 and was immediately met by four Miami Dolpins but wrestled through all of them, lost his mouthpiece and fell in for a first-quarter touchdown. It was Floyd’s second catch since the Patriots claimed him on waivers.
BETTER OFF SACKED
Miami quarterback Matt Moore escaped a first-quarter sack leaving Jabaal Sheard in “Which way did he go, which way did he go?” posture only to roll left and throw a pick directly to Pats corner Logan Ryan.
After getting sandwiched in the end zone on a deep throw by Tom Brady, Julian Edelman got a ration of head-waggling crap from Dolphins corner Bobby McClain. Edelman, predictably, popped to his feet and went facemask to facemask with McClain, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and backing the Patriots up to where they had to settle for a field goal that made it 17-0.
YOU MADE ME INK! MOMENT
In the second quarter, Kenny Stills was running a route at the linebacker level when Donta Hightower showed up in the area. Despite it being a third down play, Stills exhibited a profound disinterest in making the play and the pass fell incomplete, igniting a mocking dance from Hightower.
THINGS GRIFF WHALEN CAN’T DO
In addition to his first-quarter touchdown, Michael Floyd also plucked a throw to the sideline from well above his head that did not appear catchable when it left Tom Brady’s hand.
MUST BE SOME MISUNDERSTANDING
The normally docile Ndamukong Suh flipped Patriots center David Andrews ass over teakettle for no discernible reason during a second quarter drive, taking a 5-yard encroachment flag but avoiding a 15-yard unsportsmanlike call for excessive Suh-eyness.
THAT’S NOT HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS
Throughout the first half, as the Patriots lead ballooned to 20-0 the Dolphins seemed intent on bringing a little extra at and just after the whistle to apparently send a message about pride, honor, dignity and 2017.
BEST HIT FOR NAUGHT
Donta Hightower smashed Jarvis Landry inside the 5, driving him backwards and sideways after a reception but all the hammering did was redirect Landry who scooted in for the Dolphins first touchdown.
(MAYBE IF WE DON’T MENTION IT . . . )
(Stephen Gostkowski missed a field goal at the end of the first half. But, if you ignore it like you would when an elderly relative audibly breaks wind in a crowded room maybe he won’t feel badly and will think nobody noticed . . . )
WORST COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN
Kenny Stills ran right past linebacker Kyle Van Noy and caught a 25-yard touchdown pass to cap a 12-play Dolphins drive at the start of the second half. Van Noy would have been better off running with Stills and having the wideout stop and make a catch short of the goal line rather than appearing to guess that Stills was going to break it off.
HALL OF FAME DECLEATER
Wide receiver Michael Floyd executed a legal blindside block that ruined New Year’s Day for Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett and sprung Julian Edelman on a 77-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Since Floyd was blocking in the direction of his own goal line, he would have been in violation if his helmet had hit Lippett in the head or neck area. Instead, it was shoulder to high chest area.
BEST FORCED FUMBLE BY QUICK SLANTS COHOST
With the Dolphins on the move early in the fourth and threatening to make it a one-score game, Devin McCourty pounded the ball free from Damien Williams after a reception. That fumble was recovered by Shea McClellin, who motored 69 yards to set up a touchdown that put New England up 35-14