|Patriots Offensive Line Problems Beginning to Resurface||Bartkowski Won’t Face Suspension for hit on Gionta||TJ Oshie and Bruins Weekly Roundup||Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.|
The Patriots were able to fend off the Floridian Fish on Sunday, handing the Miami Dolphins their first divisional loss of the season and dropping them to 3-5 as the season reaches its halfway mark.
New England’s performance wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to improve to 6-2 heading into next week’s huge matchup in Indianapolis with the undefeated Colts.
Now, a closer look at a trio of Pats players that helped deliver the 27-17 Week 9 victory for Bill Belichick’s Patriots…
The veteran wide receiver was instrumental in Sunday’s win over Miami, highlighted by a 71-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter that took the lead back for the Pats, and it was a lead that New England would not relinquish. Moss had six catches on the day totaling 147 yards. With the win, the team pushed its mark to 16-0 at home when the trio of Brady, Moss, and Welker are on the field.
With the Patriots struggles in the red zone continuing Sunday (just 1-for-4 in the red zone), the point scoring was often left to place kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who was a perfect 4-for-4 in field goal attempts in the victory. His kicks of 30, 38, 34, and 40 yards, the last of which solidified the win for New England by giving the Pats a two-possession lead, tied a career high for the fourth-year kicker, who is a free agent-to-be next offseason.
Gostkowski also was the key to holding Miami’s Ted Ginn, Jr. off the highlight reel in the special teams game. After returning two kickoffs for touchdowns last week against the Jets, Ginn was held to just 97 yards on four returns thanks to Gostkowski’s big boots. Ginn’s longest return of the day, a 37-yard run, was ended by Gostkowski himself, after he pushed Ginn out of bounds.
These two relatively unknown Patriots heading into the season came up big on Sunday, protecting Tom Brady and giving him the time necessary to post his 27th 300-yard passing game of his career, passing Drew Bledsoe for the franchise lead in that category. Vollmer, the 6’8″ rookie starting in place of the injured Matt Light, protected #12′s blind side with authority all game long. Vollmer has been doing such a great job in Light’s absence, that it might be tough to take the job away from the rookie.
Connolly took over for center Dan Koppen, who left the game for good after sustaining a knee injury in the second quarter. Connolly came in and helped the offensive line hold Miami to just two sacks and seven hurries on the day. Connolly also added a 16-yard kick return on a first quarter squib kick; rumbling, bumbling, and stumbling to give the Pats good field position.