Following a dismal first half, the New England Patriots routed the Miami Dolphins in the second half to clinch their playoff spot. The Patriots won big, 41-13, securing their sixth consecutive AFC East Championship title Sunday; the first team since the 1970’s to achieve that feat. The AFC East title has become somewhat of an annual tradition in New England. Brady and Belichick now have 12 division titles together. It did not seem that way when the game first began. Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, was disappointed and perturbed that his team was not playing like a division champion team in the first half.
According to Brady, he was not in the best of moods at the time. Brady and the rest of the team were in higher spirits after the game being the first team in NFL history to have 11 division titles in 12 seasons. The team missed the title in 2008 after Brady suffered a knee injury ending his season prematurely in the opener against the Dolphins who later won the AFC East title that year.
With New England leading into the half, Brady fired two touchdown passes in the third quarter and scrambled for an additional 17 yards. That set the stage for LeGarrette Blount’s 3-yard touchdown during the opening drive of the half. The Patriots scored on every possession in the third quarter while racking up 24 points in the process, clinching the playoff spot.
Hopes that the Dolphins would make the postseason grew slimmer as New England held the team scoreless in the second half. Mike Wallace, Dolphins wide receiver said that it would take a miracle for them to get into the playoffs.
New England opened up the season with a 33-20 loss to the Dolphins in Miami. That ended their 10 games winning streak for season openers. Retribution was enacted Sunday in Gillette Stadium. According to Devin McCourty, the team was waiting all season for the rematch. The team however did not immediately take control on Sunday getting off to a slow start.
In the final minute of the first half, the Patriots had 3 rushing attempts for only 2 yards followed by a 32-yard punt return by the Dolphins’ Jarvis Landry. Dolphins quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, connected with Wallace with only five seconds left on the clock to bring the Dolphins within one point.
Bill Belichick, Patriots head coach, said that the team did not play a good first half. There were a lot of adjustments that needed to be made in the second half in order to secure the win. The team made those adjustments.
Opening the second half, Brady connected with Rob Gronkowski, Patriots tight end, for a 34-yard gain up the middle. Gronkowski said it started with one play. After that one play everything else will start to click. The Patriots ended up scoring 10 points in 13 seconds of play.
New England Patriots kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, made a 35-yard field goal securing him the team high record at 1160 points, two points more than Patriots legend Adam Vinatieri. On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots were stifling. In the first quarter, Jamie Collins blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt by the Dolphins’ Caleb Sturgis on the Dolphins’ first possession. Kyle Arrington scooped up the ball and ran it 62 yards for a Patriot touchdown. Sturgis was able to kick two more field goals later on in the first quarter before the Patriots forced another turnover. Patrick Chung intercepted a pass from Tannehill and on the following play, Brady was able to throw a pass to Gronkowski for 27 yards and a touchdown leaving 4:30 left on the clock for the third quarter.
About three minutes later, the Patriots scored again extending the lead to 38-13 with Brady’s pass to Julian Edelman. Gostkowski came in and made it the fifth consecutive scoring possession kicking a 36-yard field goal in the beginning of the fourth.
Tom Brady threw for 287 yards completing 21 out of 35 passes with one interception clinching the playoff spot for the New England Patriots. Tannehill threw for 346 yards completing 29 out of 47 passes.
By Stevenson Benoit
Photo by Karen – Flickr License