By Gregory Hunt
The New England Patriots continued their march through the AFC East Monday night with a 36-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots remain in first place in the division with a 7-0 record, two-and-a-half games ahead of the 4-2 New York Jets, who face the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.READ MORE: Injuries Reported At Car Crash In South Boston
As usual, quarterback Tom Brady finished with lofty stats (26-of-38, 356 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions), but the Patriots offensive line struggled at times to slow down the Miami pass rush. New England ended up punting four times in the first half, but the team still scored touchdowns on a 16-yard reception by running back Dion Lewis and a 47-yard reception by tight end Rob Gronkowski. The latter touchdown was set up by Lewis, who kept that drive alive by converting a 3rd-and-16 with a 17-yard pass reception. In the second half, wide receiver Julian Edelman had a touchdown receptions of 10 and 16 yards.
The running game was solid, with Lewis and LeGarrette Blount combining for 91 yards rushing. Lewis also ended up with 93 receiving yards, and he showed no signs of being bothered by his abdominal injury.
On the downside, the Patriots committed six offensive penalties in the first half alone, including an illegal crackback block on wide receiver Danny Amendola, clipping on guard Josh Kline, illegal man downfield on tackle Cameron Fleming, and pass interference on Gronkowski. This season, the Patriots have drawn quite a few offensive pass interference penalties because they haven’t been particularly discreet in running picks on crossing pass routes.
The New England defense pitched a shutout in the first half, but gave up several big plays on Miami’s first possession of the second half to give the Dolphins their only touchdown. Defensive end Chandler Jones had a solid game, getting two of New England’s five sacks. Cornerback Logan Ryan jumped a route for an interception in the first half, while safety Duron Harmon made an diving interception in the second half.READ MORE: State Workers Face Sunday Deadline To Get COVID Vaccine Or Risk Losing Jobs
Miami came into the game with one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL, but New England held the Dolphins to only 15 yards rushing. Miami running back Lamar Miller had been averaging 6.0 yards per carry this season, but on Thursday he averaged only 1.7 yards on nine carries.
Special Teams: B+
The return game was a bit of an adventure, as both Amendola and Edelman fielded punts on the bounce and safety Patrick Chung returned a free kick. The kickoff unit gave up a 50-yard return in the 4th quarter to Miami’s Jarvis Landry.
Punter Ryan Allen got four of his six punts inside the Miami 20-yard line, and on one of those gunner Matthew Slater made a monster tackle for no gain. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski made field goals of 52 and 36 yards, and he now holds the franchise record for consecutive made field goals with 26.
After running the ball only nine times last week against the New York Jets, New England’s coaches decided to attack Miami’s run defense very early in this game. The Patriots also slowed Miami’s pass rush by throwing a number of screen passes to Lewis. As a result, New England quickly took a comfortable lead and forced Miami to become one-dimensional on offense.
The Patriots will finish their three-game homestand by playing the Washington Redskins at Gillette Stadium on November 8. Washington has struggled this year to a 3-4 record, but that still puts them in second place in the NFC East, one game behind the 4-3 New York Giants.MORE NEWS: Lawrence Teachers Will Rally Before School In Response To Increased Fighting
Gregory Hunt is a Boston native and a life-long fan of the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics. He’s also particularly fond of lacrosse, IndyCar racing and women’s college basketball. He currently works for Examiner.com where he serves as the Senior Manager of Content and Media Access. He also writes for Examiner.com as the New England Patriots Examiner. His work can be found on Examiner.com.