|12.14.14 at 10:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Once again, special teams matter.
As has been the case in many games this season, including twice in as many weeks, special teams have played a major factor in a Patriots win.
Last Sunday in San Diego, Brandon Bolden blocked a punt and punter Ryan Allen had a terrific day to earn AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. This week it was a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown to set the tone in the Patriots’ 41-13 win over the Dolphins to clinch their sixth straight AFC East title.
After the Dolphins drove down the field on their opening drive, but then stalled, Caleb Sturgis came on for a 43-yard field goal attempt. The athletic Jamie Collins was able to block the kick and Kyle Arrington alertly scooped up the loose ball and ran it 62 yards for a Patriots touchdown.
“It was a good — that’s kind of what the outside guys are looking for,” coach Bill Belichick said of the play. “They’re looking for a block to put themselves in a position, which he did, to be able to attack the ball. That’s the kind of situation where there really aren’t too many guys on the other side of the ball that can tackle or are very good tacklers. If you can just get it up and get going ‘ a bunch of offensive linemen, a couple specialists. Kyle is a fast guy. Once he got a little bit of space, I don’t think there are too many guys who can run him down. But it was a good — he did his job. He was in position and took advantage of the opportunity and turned it into points. It was a heads up play.”
It was the third blocked field goal of the season for the Patriots, which ties a franchise record. Chandler Jones had one in Week 2 against the Vikings, and Chris Jones had one in the closing seconds of Week 7’s game against the Jets. Overall, the Patriots have blocked four kicks this season, including three field goals and a blocked punt. The four blocked kicks are the most for the Patriots since 2002.
The touchdown wasn’t the only special teams accomplishment in the win, as kicker Stephen Gostkowski became the Patriots’ all-time leader scorer in the game. With five extra points and two field goals, the kicker now has 1,165 points, which passes Adam Vinatieri‘s 1,165 for the franchise lead.
|12.14.14 at 9:58 pm ET|
“It’s always fun to see the Clydesdale run,” Edelman said. “He’s been working hard on his little mobility stuff. He takes that to heart. It always fun to see him get fired up after a run. I call him Brady-Vick. He’s always had unbelievable pocket awareness. It’s always great to seeing the big dog out there moving the chains.”
Told the third-and-11 run was 17 yards, Edelman was incredulous.
“It was 17 yards? That was the slowest 17 yards I’ve ever seen in my life,” Edelman said.
Of course, the first half was no laughing matter. The Patriots were spinning their wheels. They led 14-13 over the Dolphins but couldn’t put a lot of plays together.
“I can’t answer that question, ‘Why it didn’t work in the first half?'” Edelman said. “But I can answer that it was a little better in the second half. We definitely have to go out and work on starting it faster, plain and simple, because now each and every game has a little more value. We’ll definitely have to work on that and I’m sure that’ll be a focus with our coaches.
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|12.14.14 at 7:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It had been almost exactly two months to the day since Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones last played in a game.
Sunday, Jones returned to action for the first time since suffering a hip injury Oct. 16 against the Jets and made his return memorable, as he finished with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks in the Patriots’ 41-13 blowout win over the Dolphins.
“I felt great,” said Jones. “The coaches did a great job of mixing me up and switching in-and-out with different guys. It also felt really good to be back out there with my teammates.”
By our count, Jones played 48 snaps and didn’t seem limited in any way. He lined up both as a defensive end, and in a 3-point stance with Akeem Ayers and Dont’a Hightower sometimes outside of him.
Jones returned to practice the week of the Green Bay game, two weeks ago, but eased back into things before being active for the first time on Sunday.
“I was just listening to what Coach [Bill] Belichick told me and the doctors and the trainers, taking it a day at a time,” said Jones. “I know you guys heard Bill say we’ll take it day-by-day-by-day, and that’s what we were doing. Like I said, it felt good to be back out there with my teammates. Just a few months ago I was on crutches. So for me to be out there running with my team, I got a little emotional, but it felt good to be out there.”
It was the first extended period of time the defensive end has missed since missing some time in his rookie year, so before the game when he was getting back into his pregame routine was when he started to become emotional.
|12.14.14 at 7:23 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price detail how the Patriots were able to flip the switch and beat the Miami Dolphins, 41-13, Sunday at Gillette Stadium, clinching their sixth straight AFC East title. The Patriots led by only a point, 14-13, at the half before outscoring the Dolphins, 27-0, in the second half.
|12.14.14 at 6:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots won their sixth straight AFC East title with a convincing 41-13 win over the Dolphins Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The team took to Twitter and Instagram to show off their new AFC East Champion gear.
Congrats to the AFC East Champs! These guys are special. pic.twitter.com/tktZyPYObz
|12.14.14 at 6:25 pm ET|
FOXBORO — A message needed to be sent.
The Patriots were only ahead of the Dolphins 14-13 at the half, after allowing Miami to score 10 points in the final four minutes and change of the first half to get back in the game. The Patriots offense was sluggish, totaling just 102 years of net offense in the opening half, and only 82 passing yards.
On the opening drive of the second half, it was 3rd-and-11 on the Miami 20-yard line and Brady dropped back to pass, finding no receiver open in the Miami secondary. Brady, who rarely ever runs with the ball, took off and picked up the first down getting inside the 5-yard line up the right sideline. Instead of sliding, Brady took on Dolphins safety Walt Atkins head on and picked up a total of 17 yards to set up a LeGarrette Blount 3-yard touchdown run on the next play.
It was Brady’s longest run since 2007 and the third-longest of his career.
“I think it was a play that we needed to make so it was good to make it at that time,” Brady said after the game. “I was going to slide but I was pretty pissed off that time so I figured I wouldn’t slide. I wish I wouldn’t have gotten knocked down, but that’s the way it goes.”
Asked if his unusual running ability gave the team some momentum, Brady said it was more Blount’s touchdown, which put the team ahead 21-13 at the time.
“I think the touchdown did more so on the next play,” Brady said. “That was a great run. It’s just whatever it takes. I think that’s what matters. I think all our guys responded the way we wanted to and it was good to go in there and finish them off like we did.”
New England’s offense was an entirely different unit in the second half. After totaling 102 yards in the first half, they finished with 293 in the second half. Brady was 8-for-15 with 82 yards and an interception in the first half, but was 13-for-20 with 205 yards and two touchdowns, no interceptions in the second half. Brady finished the game 21-for-35 with 287 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. It was his tenth straight game of throwing for more than 245 yards.
|12.14.14 at 5:40 pm ET|
FOXBORO — What a difference 14 weeks makes. After the Dolphins took it to the Patriots in the second half in Week 1 in South Florida, the Patriots returned the favor Sunday in Foxboro.
The Dolphins were feeling pretty good at halftime, entering the locker room trailing the Patriots 14-13, after scoring 10 points in the last 4:26 of the first half, including a touchdown with five seconds left.
Unfortunately, that those were the final points the Dolphins would score, as the Patriots took it to the Dolphins, outscoring them 27-0 in the second half, as the Patriots earned their sixth straight AFC East title with a 41-13 win.
This comes after Week 1 when the roles were reversed, as the Patriots were the ones who fell in the second half with Miami outscoring them, 23-0 for a 33-20 win in South Florida.
“They kicked our ass in the second half,” said Miami center/guard Mike Pouncey. “It felt like we had so much momentum going into halftime. Halftime speech was great. Guys were ready to go. They just beat us up in the second half. That simple.”
After totaling 271 yards of total offense in the first half, the Dolphins only had 113 in the second half. Over their first three drives — all in the third quarter — Miami totaled seven plays and 15 yards, including an interception. The Patriots scored 24 third quarter points, a franchise record, including 17 in the first 10:50 to blow the Dolphins right out of the water.
“Awful. It was an awful half, we didn’t come out to play,” wide receiver Mike Wallace said. “They whooped us from the first play to the last play. Bad. They dominated us in the second half, totally.”
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