Tale Of The Tape: New England Patriots At Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots
Miami Dolphins
(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Winner After a mediocre start, Tom Brady has turned his season around and has led the Patriots to three remarkable come-from-behind victories in the last three games. Brady reads defenses well and spreads the ball around to his receivers. Brady is completing 60.8 percent of his passes and has a 21-9 TD-interception ratio.
Ryan Tannehill has exceeded expectations for the Dolphins in his first two years, but if he is going to establish himself as one of the game’s better quarterbacks he has more work to do. That work includes leading the Dolphins to the playoffs. While they need help, Tannehill will have to perform well in this game against New England’s vulnerable defense.
Winner The Patriots suffered a major blow in their Week 14 victory over the Cleveland Browns when tight end Rob Gronkowski suffered a severe knee injury (torn ACL and MCL). Gronkowski’s strength and power after the catch made him the Pats’ most important player other than Brady. Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola will have to do more to make up for his absence.
Winner The Dolphins appeared to be a lost cause at midseason when the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito controversy threatened to wreck the offensive line. Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas have provided a decent punch at the running back position, while wide receiver Brian Hartline can get open and will catch anything he can reach. Speedy Mike Wallace is a dangerous deep threat.
The Patriots’ defense has been torn apart by injuries and head coach Bill Belichick does not have the depth to make up for the losses of Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo. Cornerback Aqib Talib is a solid cover man, and he will have to keep Wallace in check. Defensive end Chandler Jones has a team-high 10.5 sacks and has speed coming around the corner.
Winner The Dolphins rank 16th in overall defense and head coach Joe Philbin regularly gets a solid effort from his players on this side of the ball. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler is quite underrated. He leads the team with 92 tackles and has the range to go sideline-to-sideline to make tackles. Defensive ends Olivier Vernon (11.5 sacks) and Cameron Wake (7.5 sacks) are capable of causing problems for Brady.
Special Teams
Winner The Patriots made a huge play on special teams when they recovered placekicker Stephen Gostkowski’s onside kick in the final minute of their comeback victory against the Browns. The Pats are solid in their punt and kickoff coverage, while Gostkowski has made 30-of-32 FG attempts.
The Dolphins have done a decent job of covering kickoffs and punts, but they are not a threat to turn a game around with a big play because return specialist Marcus Thigpen is quite ordinary. Caleb Sturgis is an ordinary placekicker (25-of-33) who does not inspire confidence when the game is on the line.

The Winner Is

(credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Winner New England Patriots
3 out of 4

The Dolphins may be catching the Patriots at the right time following the loss of Gronkowski. The Pats have been slow starting and that could cost them against a hungry team playing at home.
-Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor


  1. PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Sam Bradford #8 of the Minnesota Vikings throws a pass in the first quarter against Brandon Graham #55 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Vikings 21-10. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) GREENBAY, WI - OCTOBER 20: Running back Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears is tackled by nose tackle Kenny Clark #97 and cornerback Demetri Goodson #39 of the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter at Lambeau Field on October 20, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
    Week 8 Tale Of The Tape: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears

    The Vikings and Bears square off in a battle of NFC North divisional rivals.

  2. PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles avoids Everson Griffen #97 of the Minnesota Vikings as he runs for a first down during the second quarter of a game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 23, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 16: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys looks to pass against the Green Bay Packers during the third quarter at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Green Bay Packers 30-16.  (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
    Week 8 Tale Of The Tape: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

    Two of the top rookie QBs face off in Big D.

  3. GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football during the NFL game against the Seattle Seahawks at the University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals and Seahawks tied 6-6.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 16: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers scrambles out of the pocked during the first half of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 16, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
    Week 8 Tale Of The Tape: Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers

    The Cardinals are still trying to catch the Seahawks atop the NFC West, they now take on the embattled Panthers.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS Boston

Download Our App
Download Weather App
Taz Show

Listen Live