BOSTON (CBS) — New England’s special teams unit has been a bit of a roller coaster all season. But they made two big plays in the first half Sunday afternoon in Miami.
The Patriots blocked two Miami punts in the opening half, with both of them getting sent back by veteran newcomer Albert McClellan.
McClellan was brought in midseason to help stabilize New England’s struggling special teams, and he did just that on Sunday. He’s now a shoe-in to be the AFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week.
His first block came after Dont’a Hightower sacked Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill on a third down play to force a Miami punt. McClellan burst through the line to block Matt Haack’s attempted boot, and after the football propelling into the air, it fell right into the arms of Ramon Humber at the Miami 18-yard line.
It didn’t take long for New England to take advantage of the short field, either. Five plays later, Tom Brady hit Julian Edelman for a three-yard touchdown to give the Patriots a 13-7 lead at the time.
McClellan’s second block came just before halftime, once again getting to Haack before he could boot the ball away. This time it was downed by Dolphins running back/special teamer Brandon Bolden at the Miami 15.
That big special teams play did not lead to any points for the Patriots though, as Brady was sacked on a third down bid with six seconds left and no timeouts for New England. It was a rare miscue by the quarterback, who was having himself a great day up until that point.
The Patriots took a 27-21 lead into the locker room on Sunday. While that lead could have been a lot bigger, they must be feeling pretty good about their special teams unit, which was a big area of concern entering the contest.