I haven’t done a in-game analysis and with this game being sort of the annual Superbowl for the Dolphins, I thought it would be fun. Dolphins won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball in the second half. So, the Patriots receive the kickoff first and it’s a touchback. They run two running plays with Sony Michel for 7 yards. Then, we get our first drama. Akeem Spence and Trent Brown jarring at each other. Then, Tom Brady decides, he is going to pick on Minkah Fitzpatrick on the boundary as he completes a 16-yard pass to Josh Gordon and another pass to Julian Edelman for 17 yards. Edelman is going to have a big game. Fitzpatrick has struggled at boundary cornerback all season. He is just a rookie, so it’s possible with time, he will get better. They, then, run two more running plays for 7 yards again with Michel. Then, they pass to Edelman again and he does this weird curling move to get the first down. Reminded me of Curly Howard. All that was missing was the whoop-whoop-whoop-whoop! They run Michel again for no gain. Then, Brady passes to Cordelle Patterson for 14 yards. It’s now, first and goal. They go back to Michel twice for 8 yards. Then, their fullback James Develin punches it in for the touchdown but Stephon Gostkowski misses the extra point. It remains 6-0.
Okay, so the Dolphins are up. It’s a touchback as well. They start with Frank Gore. He runs for 4 yards. Ryan Tannehill then, goes to Parker for 15 yards. Then, they do some trickery, Tannehill keeper, he rushes for 13 yards. See, this is what I get excited about with him. He is so effective when it comes to running the ball. It irritated me again as I was listening to the announcers and they were talking about Brady’s 1,003 career rushing yards and don’t say anything about Tannehill. I mean, Brady has been in the league since 2001 and Tannehill has already have more rushing yards then that. But, the announcers want to praise Brady and his ridiculous career rushing yards. Moving on to Gore who runs for 36 yards by far his best run of the day. He’s gonna have a big game. Twelve carries for 90 yards. So, is JaWuan James with one caveat. Blocking for all the running backs. Bolden, Gore and Drake. On replay, you could see Gore just pushing James out of the way which I thought was kinda funny. Gore is like “I got places to be. Get out of the way.” That sets the Dolphins up in the redzone. Tannehill passes to Kenny Stills, who stretches for the touchdown. We make our extra point. Score is now 7-6.
Jason Sanders kicks the ball back in the endzone for another touchback. Patriots set up at the 25. For some reason, the Patriots start feeding Rex Burkhead the ball instead of Michel which I thought was strange but I’m like “hey, I’ll take it.” Patriots get a quick three and out as Kiko Alonso comes up with a big stop on third down. Burkhead loses 2 yards. Patriots have to punt.
At this point, I’m like, let’s go! Let’s put some distance between these Patsies. Amendola was on return duties today not Drake, so, not sure what Gase’s strategy was doing that. He returns the ball for 7 yards. Dolphins setup at their own 28. They open up with 2 run plays to Gore. He gets nine. Trey Flowers gets called for a hold. That’s an automatic first down. Then, Tannehill tries to get the ball to Parker twice and it didn’t work. Then on third down, Tannehill gets sacked by Donta Hightower and we lose 9 yards and have to punt. So, missed opportunity there.
The Dolphins punt gets blocked. There would be two of those on the day. Patriots set up in the Dolphins redzone at the 20. They go back to Michel and Alonso’s got his number as he is stopped after a 1-yard gain. Then, Brady goes to the Stooge(Edelman). Bobby McCain lets him get too much inside position on him and Stooge is able to pick up the first down. First and goal, now. Michel, then, runs for a 4-yard gain and that ends the quarter with the Dolphins up 7-6 but of course, the Patriots are threatening.
It’s now, second and goal. Edelman catches a 1-yard pass. Dolphins trying to hold them to a field goal. Robert Quinn may have gotten tripped on that play and the refs missed it but oh well, got to shake it off. Third and Goal. Brady goes back to Stooge again. This time, the other DB rookie we have Cornell Armstrong is on him but it doesn’t matter because Stooge catches the ball for a touchdown. Gostkowski makes the extra point this time. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t that upset. I mean, I was upset the Stooge got us but hadn’t really had a chance to see Armstrong play all year and I know he is a development project but I will be following his career with much intrigue. Anyway, I was happy to see him out there playing. Patriots retake the lead, 13-6.
So the Patriots kickoff. It’s another touchback. Dolphins run 2 big plays for another answering score to take the lead again. First play was a 21-yard pass to Kenny Stills for the first down. Second play and I got to give it up for the o-line but they create a large hole for Brandon Bolden to run through and he takes advantage of it and runs for 54 yards for a touchdown. 14-13, Dolphins.
Next drive, Patriots come out and capture a first down right off the bat. Brady hooks up with Rob Gronkowski for 17 yards. Brady, then hands off to Burkhead for a 1-yard gain. Spence for all his trash talking, he could back it up. He got good penetration inside to make that stop. Brady, then goes to Patterson for 4 yards but Andre Branch, gets a penalty. It’s illegal hands to the face. Oh, Branch! Three years and you haven’t once made my impact analysis. Next play, pocket collapses around Brady, he just throws it at the feet of Edelman. He then, throws another pass to Edelman. It gets tipped by Jerome Baker but Dolphins can’t come up with the turnover. Dolphins had about four of those opportunities on the day. Now, Brady gets it right and hooks up with Stooge for 16 yards and another first down. Brady feeling it, throws a 37-yard bomb to Patterson for the score. Patriots go up again, 20-14.
Next drive, Tannehill opens up with a bomb of his own for 43 yards to Stills. Next play, Gore gets a 5-yard run. Then, Tannehill goes right back to Stills for 10-yards and another first down. Parker and Gesiki also contributed with some good blocking on that play. Then, Tannehill tries to get a ball to Gesiki but it falls short. Those two, just don’t have any chemistry right now. Drake manages to get some work in for 11 yards and another first down and Bolden punches it in for another touchdown and another lead change. I imagine, getting Bolden involved in the gameplan had to have been Gase’s idea and of course, Bolden extra motivated because this was his former team. 21-20, Dolphins.
So, now, we got a shootout. Brady again opens with a big play of 34 yards to Patterson. He tries a similiar play to Patterson again but the Dolphins are ready for it this time. Burkhead gets 3 yards on the ground. Brady passes to the Stooge for 20 yards. Then, they go immediately back to the ground game. Michel gets 3 yards. I’ve been harping on Burke a lot this year but he got the boys ready to contain the run this game. First time these two teams met Dolphins gave up a whopping 175 rushing yards but in this game…75. So, it was a big improvement. So, after the Michel run, Brady throws the ball intended for James White but it is broken up by Ziggy Hood. As soon as the announcer said “Hood” I kid you not, my first thought was ‘who?’ I totally forgot the Dolphins had signed him a while back, but, yeah, hemakes a play. Then, Brady finds his guy, Gronkowski for 15 yards. Brady then, goes right back to him for a touchdown. McCain was going for the interception but didn’t quite get there in time. He was reading Brady all the way. So, now it’s 27-21, Patriots and things start to calm down at this point.
So, next drive, Dolphins elect to run. They use both Gore and Drake. Gore goes nowhere. Drake gets 6 yards. Then, Tannehill gets sacked for 8 yards by Kyle Van Noy and Jones and the Patriots defense gets their first three and out on the day.
So, the Dolphins are lined up to punt. A flag comes out. Malcom Butler called for neutral zone infraction. It doesn’t matter. Dolphins still have to punt. So, they punt the ball to Edelman. He takes it and runs out of bounds. Michel runs for 2 yards and is stopped by Spence. Brady throws two quick passes to White but they both are incomplete and the Dolphins call timeout with a minute to go in the half.
The Patriots punt. Amendola runs it for 9 yards. Dolphins set up at their own 32-yard line. Remember, that caveat, I mentioned earlier? Here it is. James gets bullrushed into Tannehill and Tannehill gets his ankle hurt. He has to leave the game and Osweiller has to finish the second quarter. Dolphins lose 11 yards. Gase tries to run it with Drake but gets tackled for a loss of 2. Brock Osweiller in a bad spot tries to throw a pass, but he ends up getting sacked for another 6 yards. So, Dolphins punt again.
It gets blocked! Patriots clearly planned for this. They probably have been practicing this all week. But, it gets blocked and they are set up at the Miami 15 yard line already up by 6.
I’m thinking at this point. There just going to run it and kick a field goal, try to increase their lead. But, no, everything was pass. Brady trying to go for the killshot. First pass incomplete to Gronkowski. Second pass to Gronk is successful. Patriots call their final timeout at the Dolphins 2. I’m thinking, ‘they’re gonna kick a field goal now.’ Nope, silly me. What was I thinking? Brady keeps working the pass doesn’t work then on third down, Quinn sacks him but because the Patriots are out of timeouts, the clock keeps running. Boom! Halftime. Dolphins dodge a bullet. That happens twice as Brady gets sacked for the final play of the third quarter as well.
So, the Dolphins get the ball first in the second half. Tannehill is back in the game. He is showing a lot of toughness. Apparently, he is going to try to play through it. Gore runs for 2 yards and fumbles. Thankfully, Durham Smythe recovers it. So, then, they go to Drake a couple times. First, a pass for 3. Second, a run for 9 yards. Jesse Davis had a good block on that play. Then, they go pass play to Gore for 11 yards and he gets it but it gets called back because Tunsil gets hit with an illegal hands to the face penalty. Tannehill, then, throws a pass to Parker but it’s incomplete. They hand the ball off to Drake next but he is tackled for a loss of 4. Then, they pass to Amendola but it’s not enough for a first down. Dolphins have to punt and the score remains 27-21, Patriots.
Patriots hand the ball off to Michel twice for 8 yards. Brady throws an incomplete pass to Edelman but Baker gets called for defense holding which makes it an automatic first down. Next down, more flags come out. Shaq Mason gets called for the chop block. Kiko Alonso gets called for a horse collar. The refs reset the play. Michel runs for another first down on the next 2 plays. Couple plays later, Brady hooks up with Gordon for 29 yards. They, then, go back to Michel. He gets 2 yards. Brady tries to find Edelman. Nothing there. Brady throws another pass. It gets tipped but is incomplete. Now, it’s 4th down at the Miami 24-yard line. Well, Gostkowski misses the field goal and the score remains 27-21 in favor of the Patriots.
Dolphins open up with their eighth drive on the day. Patriots immediately get called for a holding penalty. That’s an automatic first down and they move the chains. Tannehill, then, tries to pass to Bolden but nothing doing. Both coaches utilize the backs in the receiving game. Gore, then, runs for 16 yards. Then, he catches a pass for 24 yards. Next pass goes to Brice Butler for the score and the Dolphins lead 28-27 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
Patterson runs the kickoff but only gets to the 21-yard line. Brady’s first pass incomplete. It was intended for Gordon. Burkhead follows that up for a short gain of a yard. Brady hits his man, Gronkowski for 13 yards on 3rd and long. Brady goes back to Gordon. It’s incomplete. Jones nearly had the pick. At this point, I’m getting anxious. ‘Man, we are so close. We just need one stop.’ Brady goes back to Gronk for another first down. They try the run game next. Nothing do. Michel gets one yard. Then, Marcus Cannon gets flagged for a false start. I’m thinking ‘this is it. This is it!’ Just like that, Stooge picks up a first down for the Patriots at the Miami 47-yard line. Next play, five seconds to go, Dolphins show blitz and McCain gets Brady for the sack and I breathe a sigh of relief as the third quarter comes to an end.
Okay, so let me tell you what happens next. Dolphins pick up a couple first downs. Butler gets a offensive penalty. So, it’s now, 1st and 20 at their own 25-yard line. They run Gore. He gets 4. Stills is able to pick up 15 yards on the next play; setting up third and 1. ‘Give it to Gore’. I’m thinking. Fingers crossed and all. Tannehill fakes it to Gore, tries to pass it, ends up getting sacked for a 7-yard loss. I am fuming right now. This is too big of a game to try to be cute and here we go, yet again with the fourth-quarter meltdowns. ‘4TH QUARTER MELTDOWNS R US. APPLY WITHIN. PLAYCALLERS NEEDED.’ I mean, just all kinds of random thoughts are coming from my mind. Dolphins forced to punt now. Defense was able to hold them to a field goal. Patriots are now up by 2. 30-28.
Dolphins get the ball back with six minutes to go. They get a first down and run it with Gore who gets 4 yards. The clock is moving and the last thing I want is for Brady to get the ball back. Tannehill with some 4 minutes and change on the clock, burns a timeout, because he can’t hear what Gase is calling in his helmet. I’m just shaking my head at this point. ‘Rookie head coach and rookie quarterback and neither one of them is in their first year,’ are pretty much my thoughts at this point. Tannehill throws a pass to Stills but it’s incomplete and nearly picked off. Dolphins have to punt. Defense gets a stop and holds the patsies to another field goal, making it, 33-28 now. But, there is virtually no time left on the clock.
Patriots punt the ball with sixteen seconds left. Ballage returns it for 16 yards but at this point, I’m wishing for a fair catch call. So, seven seconds left in the game. Tannehill throws a pass to Stills and now, we are treated to some hot potato. Stills tosses to Parker and Parker almost immediately tosses it to Drake who is a few steps behind him. As soon as Drake catches it, it looks like he is gonna be ankle-tackled immediately but he doesn’t. Now, he has to get by a sea of Patriots. Larsen and Amendola caught up with him somehow and threw some key blocks in so that Drake could get around them. Now, Drake has got one man to beat. At this point, I am screaming at the top of my lungs “Go, Drake, Go.”Hugging the sideline and barely squeezing the ball in the endzone for a touchdown and the Dolphins win 34-33 and I witness the best, best, best play, I have ever seen in my entire existence. This is the kind of play that comes once a generation. My fellow Dolphin fans, tell everybody about it. I’m very privledged to witness that play.
Let’s start with the positives. Defensive Coordinator Matt Burke did a much better job against the Patriots this go around. They didn’t let any of the backs run wild. Tannehill made my impact analysis for the second time this season. He played a clean game and showed a lot of toughness when he got hurt again. Kept the team in it with continous back-to-back scores. Haven’t seen him do that since the 2014 Broncos game. Only questionable thing was that late-4th quarter timeout. Gore and Drake; I’m gonna have to start calling them the miracle men because those two are fun to watch.
With all that being said, I’m not buying the hype that the Dolphins are going to win out. Vikings are a good team. They are coming back home after a loss and are also vying for a playoff spot. As for the Jaguars and Bills, I don’t care what their record is. Knowing the Dolphins like I do, those are trap games, all the way. Plus, the Bills are a division rival. There is no such thing as a guaranteed win.
As far as this regime and roster is concerned, I’m worried. They’ve got some nice building blocks on offense and defense. But, I just don’t see how we are ever going to do better than 8-8 with Tannehill as our starting QB. It’s late in the fourth quarter. You are down 2 but you are running the ball well and the clock is moving and the last thing you want to do is give the ball back to Brady and you call a timeout. I wish, that Tannehill would have just said to Gase, “I can’t hear you. But, I want to keep this clock moving, so I am going to hand it to Gore.” You know, be a field general! But, he doesn’t. He hasn’t for 7 years and for all these years, this franchise has carried him.
Moving on to Gase. I listened to a lot of podcasts this morning. People giving their opinions about the Head Coach. I can put up with his smug attitude. I can put up with his mismanagement of personnel, too. What I cannot deal with is him failing to understand game situations. Gase does not understand that when you have a double-digit lead and it’s the fourth quarter and you have the ball, that the clock is your friend. When, you are down just a couple, late in the game and you need to convert a first down and all you need is a yard to get that first down, RUN THE BALL! Look, I may be just a fan, who has never played, never coached, and never even refereed a game in my life and probably never will but for goodness sakes, I’ve been a fan a lot longer than Gase has been a Head Coach and I bet that is true for this fanbase also. Run the ball! You have the 4th all-time leading rusher on your team who is having a big game and running behind this crappy o-line you have assembled, on a dime like something out of a book and you decide that it’s more important to be fancy instead of efficient, by faking it to Gore and want to go pass, putting your already-injured quarterback at further risk? Brady gets the ball back with over four minutes to go and they already are in the lead. It’s like Gase forgot which quarterback, he was facing this week. Patriots executed that final drive perfectly. There was no way the Dolphins should have won that game. But, thanks to some stellar moves by Drake, we did.
I’m willing to give Gase more time because I am sick of the 4-and-done experiments that have happened recently with this franchise but it is really hard to be confident that Gase is going to figure this stuff out. He came from a football family. So, I naturally assumed that he had these instincts in him and it is shocking to me after three years that he still doesn’t get it. The bottomline is this, we aren’t ever going to win many ball games with this kind of decision-making. I hope, I am wrong. I hope this team can find a way into the playoffs and maybe possibly win one game but I think the Miracle in Miami is as good as it gets.