|Jabar Gaffney is making Donte’ Stallworth looking more and more expendable with multiple strong performances in recent weeks.(Courtesy of NFL.com)
The Patriots (15-0) jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead and put it on cruise control in the second half to take care of the now 1-14 Dolphins. The Patriots are now the first team in NFL history to start a regular season 15-0 and set the first of many significant records last night in setting a new NFL record for team touchdowns in a single season. Here’s three things we learned in last night’s win:
- THE PATRIOTS TOOK CARE OF BUSINESS: Tom Brady and the offense asserted themselves early, jumping out to a 28-0 lead at the half thanks to three TD passes from Brady, two to Randy Moss and one to Jabar Gaffney. Though the second half saw Brady throw two interceptions and the offense completely rhythm and stagger through the half, the defense kept up the intensity and allowed just seven points in the game to the hapless Dolphins offense. The second half was boring and frustrating, but it’s important to note that both starting TEs, Ben Watson and Kyle Brady, were scratched before the game which severely limited the number of formations the Pats could run. But in the end, the Pats took care of business and solidified their 15-0 record.
- LAURENCE MARONEY CAN PLAY: Much of the criticism of Laurence Maroney and his progression this season has been warranted, but last night’s performance (14 carries, 156 yards) should put some Patriots fans concerns to rest. Maroney busted out two 50+ yard runs and scored his fourth TD of the year with a 59 yard run in the second quarter. A lot of the problems Maroney has been having are self inflicted but it also has to do with blocking. Last night the run blocking was superb and Maroney was able to pick his spots, put his head down and run all over the ‘Phins.
- THE PATRIOTS HAVE SOMETHING TO PLAY FOR NEXT WEEK: Though the 65,000 fans at Gillette Stadium were bored for most of the second half, the fact that Brady is still two passing TDs away from overtaking Peyton Manning’s record and Randy Moss is two TDs away from surpassing Jerry Rice means when the Patriots suit up against the Giants they will have reason to play. Though coach Belichick reiterated his malaise for records and wouldn’t divulge what his plans for first team playing time is, with a 15-0 record, two of his stars on the cusp of breaking significant records and the team within seven points of breaking the record for most points in a single season, the Patriots should come out guns blazing as usual. With the Vikings loss last night, the Giants have clinched the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs and will likely sit some of their starters for at least a portion of the game.
With Richard Seymour finally playing near 100%, Maroney running well for two straight games and no significant injuries plaguing either side of the ball, I expect the Patriots to hit all cylinders when the playoffs come around. Despite seemingly taking it easy the last two weeks in spots, Belichick will have his team ready to play this Saturday and it’s going to take something special to beat this team for the rest of the year.
Tags: Laurence Maroney, Miami Dolphins, Patriots, Randy Moss, Tom Brady