|Questions at Third: What is Wrong with Will Middlebrooks?||Should the Patriots Make a Big Splash and Sign Randy Moss?||10 Takeaways from Bruins-Blackhawks Game 3||Garnett and Rivers to Clippers Deal ‘Dead’|
You thought the Patriots had a good chance of winning when they went up 14-0. You thought they had a better chance of winning when in the second quarter Tom Brady hit Wes Welker for a 58 yard pass play to the Miami 15. You thought they had a great chance of winning when Brady hit Sam Aiken for an 81-yard touchdown to give the Pats a 21-10 lead. You STILL thought they had a good chance at winning when they got the ball up by two with 4:44 to go in the game. By the time Miami faced a game saving 4th and six on the Patriots 41 with about two minutes to you, you probably figured the ‘phins would convert. They did convert the fourth and six which later set up a game winning, 41 yard field goal to send the Dolphins to an improbably 22-21 win over the Patriots.
The Patriots choked. There’s really no other way to call it. After dominating the first quarter and taking a two touchdown lead over Miami thanks to Kevin Faulk’s six yard touchdown, the Patriots (7-5) were carved up defensively and lost most of their offensive rhythm. First year starter Chad Henne had a career day, throwing for 335 yards and two touchdowns.
What happened after they went up 14-0? The Dolphins marched right down the field with a 10 play, 88 yard drive to cut the lead to 14-10. What happened after Wes Welker’s long pass reception? The Patriots play callers called four consecutive RUNNING plays, including a hilariously predictable full back dive on fourth and one, which was no where near a first down. What happened after Sam Aiken’s long TD reception? The Pats defense allowed back to back scoring drives of 46 yards and 64 yards and suddenly it was a two point game. And lastly, what happened on the fourth and six play which would have sealed a hard earned, road victory for the Patriots? Chad Henne rolled out, under absolutely no pressure from the pathetic Patriots defensive line, and easily completed a 13 yard pass to Greg Camarillo. After today’s performance, I have very little to criticize Bill Belichick about in terms of his fourth down call in Indy a few weeks ago. The Patriots pass rush is completely impotent and is hanging out the secondary to dry. Plain and simple.
This doesn’t even mention perhaps the worst, most influential game changing play, a Tom Brady interception in the endzone which would have put the Patriots up by two scores in the fourth quarter. On a second and goal from the Dolphin 5, Brady lofted a ball towards Moss into double coverage and rookie Vontae Davis made a rather easy inteception. Brady’s last ditch effort of a throw away late in the fourth was also intercepted, which sealed the Pats fate of meddling in AFC East mediocrity.
Now the Patriots lead the AFC East by one game, and though they have an easy schedule on paper the rest of the day, there’s very little in terms of consistent performers that fans can depend on to show up every week for New England. Wes Welker continued an incredible season with 10 catches and 167 yards, but the lack of a third wideout showed today as Sam Aiken had to crucial drops in the fourth. The Pats lost consecutive games for the first time since 2006 and now have many questions to answer about themselves.