It can be said with confidence that this Patriots game was by far the most confusing and embarrassing loss of their season. New England wore defeat in their eyes before the game even started. Lack of energy, motivation, and leadership -among other inconsistencies- resulted in an easy win for Jay Cutler and his Miami Dolphins.
I repeat…an easy win for Jay Cutler… and his Miami Dolphins.
Not a single player stood out on the Patriots team positively; however, many contributed to their loss.
Tom Brady ended the game with 24 of 43 completed passes for 233 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. There are no words to describe how strangely Brady played. From the moment he stepped foot on the field, something was obviously wrong. At points during the game, he looked fired up on the sidelines and ready to play his game. When it was time for him to play, his eyes glazed over as if he didn’t know how to throw the ball.
This was the worst game, offensively, for the Patriots in regards to third down conversions. Before this game, New England was 4th in the NFL for successful third down conversions. The team went 0 of 11 for third down conversions in this game. Their last game without a single third down conversion was back in 1991 against the Cardinals. And if that statistic isn’t brutal enough: The best quarterback in the NFL was outplayed by Jay Cutler, who finished proudly with 25 of 38 completed passes for 263 yards, 3 touchdowns, 0 pick sixes, and his first win against the Patriots. If that didn’t hurt Brady’s pride, then I don’t know what possibly could.
Part of the reason Brady couldn’t do much offensively might have to do with the fact that there were marshmallows protecting him. Every single player on the line was thrown about and manhandled. Throughout the game, there were 2 sacks and 6 recorded quarterback hits on Brady, although there were definitely more hits than just 6. Brady was rushed and forced to throw the ball away countless times due to the ineffectiveness of his offensive line.
The running backs couldn’t go anywhere due to terrible blocking and Brady barely had any time to throw. The Patriots only had possession of the ball for 24 minutes compared to Miami’s 36 minutes. With all the hype surrounding the “new and improved” offensive line, their performance was an incredible letdown.
The Miami offense had a field day with the Patriots defensive line. Running backs were slicing through any feeble attempt to stop them with ease. The line allowed for countless first downs; even Jay Cutler took part in running for a first down with no pressure whatsoever from the defense. Miami gained confidence seeing as they converted on fourth downs quite a few times as well. They say “a good defense is a good offense” and when that defense fails… we all know what happens.
When the game announcer is able to say, “Jay Cutler in the pocket, doing a good job.”, then you know something is wrong with the opposing team’s defense. Cutler never even had the chance to throw a pick six because the defense gave him all the time in the world to throw the ball.
Although no leader stepped up to fill the vacancy left by Brady, Rex Burkhead came close. Burkhead finished with 5 carries for 8 yards, 5 receptions for 45 yards, and 1 touchdown. The most notable play made by Burkhead was his touchdown run. With six minutes left in the second quarter, Brady handed the ball off to Burkhead who jumped over a fallen defender, split two more defenders, then corkscrewed into the end zone for the Patriots’ first touchdown of the game. The running back’s ability to make athletic plays never fail to amaze.
Even though Dion Lewis didn’t play a huge role in the game, his reliability did. When in doubt, Brady threw or handed the ball to Lewis. He ended the night with 5 carries for 17 yards, and 5 receptions for 50 yards. Had the offensive line been able to clear paths for Lewis and Burkhead to penetrate, the Patriots would have had a much, much greater chance of winning the game. Lewis’ consistency shouldn’t be undermined either. When wide receivers are being shut down like they were in this game, it’s up to the running backs to pick up the slack.
The wide receivers were essentially invisible during Monday’s game. For the most part, they were all shut down by Miami’s secondary or Brady was forced to throw the ball away before he got a chance to see the open player. However, Danny Amendola led the team in pass receptions with 6 catches for 76 yards, but no touchdown. Amendola almost had one towards the end of the game, but his arm was on the wrong side of the pylon.
New England deserved to lose this game. They were outplayed, outhustled, and outmuscled. Little else need be said, other than if the Patriots play like this against the Steelers next weekend, Pittsburgh will gladly beat them into oblivion.
–Caitlyn Allen is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @caitlyyyn_allen