Bill Belichick turned New England 180 degrees back in the right direction for Sunday’s game against Miami. Following two brutal losses, a newly energized Patriots team came prepared to dominate. With a final score of 38-7, they accomplished their goal.
Sony Michel and J.C. Jackson
Novices Sony Michel and J.C. Jackson are beginning to hit their stride in the professional football league. Brady handed off to Michel 25 times throughout the game, earning him his first 100-yard rushing game (112 to be exact) as well as his first touchdown. The running back is learning quickly how his opponents operate, and with that knowledge, he is able to weave through their defense, much like James White (who also had an incredible game). Jackson, on the other hand, completed his second interception of the season with an incredible catch. The cornerback poses a threat for those more experienced in his position. If these two can keep their momentum alive, a bright future is in store for the aging New England team.
Dorsett finished the game with 4 receptions for 55 yards and 1 spectacular touchdown. All of Dorset’s catches gave New England a fresh set of downs. He also brought an urgent presence to the game, which pushed the team to score more efficiently. New England’s third touchdown of the game was their most impressive by far. With under two minutes left in the first half, Brady launched a pass far in front of Dorsett, who leaped for the ball and did a flip mid-air to catch it. Plays such as these only add to the team’s versatility.
The most improved unit since last week’s game was by far the defensive line. The defense held Miami to an astounding 11 total first downs; only one of which was attained by rushing. Furthermore, the Dolphins only covered 172 net yards in the entire game, less than two touchdowns. The pressure applied on Miami’s quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, forced multiple three and out’s by their offense. The line sacked Tannehill 2 times for a loss of 19 yards; both of these sacks forced a fourth down. They played with a newfound energy that spread to the entire Patriots team. Even though the offense scored multiple touchdowns to ensure a win, the defense prevented Miami from catching up.
Tom Brady was surrounded by a motivated offense; that’s how they scored. Brady by himself put up a lackluster performance, completing 23 of 35 passes for 274 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. New England could have lost their lead with those two interceptions. Brady has averaged 1 interception per game so far this season. Considering Brady is the quarterback who “has seen it all”, something must be wrong. Multiple passes were thrown off target, putting vulnerable receivers in danger. During the Patriots first drive of the game, Brady got them all the way to the end zone (and they were only a few yards away from a touchdown), but he overthrew all of his passes and the team was forced to settle for a field goal. His passing was overall inconsistent and something has to change.
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Adam Butler had a spectacular game. He had 2 tackles and 1 sack for 9 yards along with 1 quarterback hit and 1 pass defended. Roughly halfway through the fourth quarter, Butler remained on the ground following an offensive play by Miami. He walked gingerly off the field and down into the locker room. He didn’t return for the remainder of the game. It is worth mentioning that the one touchdown Miami scored occurred when Butler was forced out of the game with his injury. Although there is still no update on how serious the lower leg injury is, his presence is questionable for week 4.
Nicholas Grigsby and Cyrus Jones
Nicholas Grigsby (linebacker) and Cyrus Jones (cornerback) each had slip-ups. Even though none of their mistakes changed the pace of the game, it will certainly change the way Belichick structures his next lineup. Jones had a crucial missed tackle at the beginning of the game that resulted in a 22-yard pickup for Miami. Later in the first quarter, Jones was called for holding and handed a first down to the Dolphins. Finally, he almost had an interception. He was in great positioning and the ball hit him right in the numbers…but he couldn’t grab it. Grigsby, on the other hand, had two back-to-back bad plays, both of which led to Miami’s first and only touchdown of the game. The first play was a missed tackle, giving Miami a first down with significant yardage. The second play came on a Miami 4th and 2. Grigsby was on coverage and made no attempt to break up the pass. The Dolphins scored a touchdown on the next play. Although their mistakes didn’t cost New England the game, they have a lot to work on.
The Patriots only have a short amount of time before their next game against the Colts. This game is going to be more competitive and will require as much, if not more, effort from every player on the team. Every player has room to improve and little time to do so.
-Caitlyn Allen is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow her on Twitter @caitlyyyn_allen