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Nuggetpalooza: Cool stats as Patriots FINALLY play Dolphins

12.01.12 at 10:24 am ET

After their complete dismantling of the Jets on Thanksgiving night, the Patriots roll into Miami to face the Dolphins, who find themselves in the playoff hunt with five games to go. By kickoff Sunday, it will have been 344 days since the Pat and Fins have met, the second longest stretch since 1992. They had a 350-day stretch between their final meeting in 2008 and their first in 2009. Here are some other numbers that I found interesting and hope you will, too:

* – With their two defensive touchdowns last week against the Jets, the Patriots became just the fourth team since 1970 to score multiple defensive touchdowns in consecutive games. The others were the Steelers (1983, Weeks 6-7), Vikings (1992, Weeks 9-10), and the Bears (Weeks 4-5 this season).

* – Since the start of last season, the Dolphins have faced a team with a winning record (ABOVE .500, not including .500) at home four times and won all four. The only teams with longer streaks of such wins are the Packers (6-0 dating back to 2009), Colts (6-0 dating back to 2008), and the Patriots (5-0 dating back to 2008).

Note this: The Patriots have only faced one over-.500 opponent at home after week 10 over the past two seasons: The 6-3 Colts two weeks ago.

NFL Note: Since the start of the 2006 season, the Rams have played 11 over-.500 teams at home after week 10 … and lost all 11 times. This is worth noting as the Rams play the 49ers (8-2-1) in St. Louis this Sunday.

* – The Patriots have led at some point in their last 20 regular-season games, the longest active streak in the league. The Falcons have the second-longest streak at 16 games (including Thursday’s game). Four other teams have led in every game so far this season: The Ravens, Steelers, Colts, and Buccaneers.

Note this: The Bucs led at some point in just two of their last 10 games last season and now have led in all 11 this season.

* – The Patriots have outscored their last four opponents by a combined 109 points. That’s tied for the ninth-biggest four-game scoring margin since the merger in 1970. Here are the top three:

+128 – 49ers, 1987
+125 – Colts, 2004
+122 – Redskins, 1975

As a clip-and-save, here are the top scoring margins over a five game span since 1970:

+142 – 49ers, 1987
+141 – Vikings, 1988
+137 – Patriots, 2007
+137 – Patriots, 2010
+137 – Rams, 1999

* – New England has scored 14 or more points in 12 different quarters this season, easily the most in the league as no other team has more than eight such quarters (Buffalo, Denver, New Orleans). Since the start of last season, the Patriots have 29 such quarters, Since 1997, the record for most quarters scoring 14-plus points over two seasons is 34, set by the 1999-2000 Rams.

Note this: The Dolphins have had just four such quarters this season and also have 29 such quarters … over the last 6 2/3 years combined (since the start of the 2006 season).

NFL Note: The Eagles have yet to have a 14-point quarter this season. Since ’97, only two teams have gone a full season without one: the 2003 Cardinals and the 2010 Panthers.

One other thing: The Bears defense has yet to allow 14 or more points in a quarter this season. The 2007 Buccaneers are the only team since ’97 to go a full season without allowing such a quarter.

* – Since allowing 38 points to the Patriots in the final week of the 2010 season and 38 to them again in the first week of the 2011 season, the Dolphins have allowed 30 or more points only twice in the 26 games since. That’s tied with the Steelers and Seahawks for the fewest such games in that span.

Note this: Three teams have allowed 30+ points only three times in their last 26 games. Two of them are the Ravens and the Falcons. The third team was a surprise: The New England Patriots.

* – The Dolphins have rushed 59 times for a 5.22 yard average to the left side this season, sixth best in the league. Compare that to when they attempt to run up the middle (3.16, 27th) or to the right side (3.23, 31st).

* – Miami’s defense is the only team in the NFL that has not yet been flagged for offsides this season. Since 1995, the year they began tracking specific penalty data, no team has ever gone a full season without getting penalized for offsides. Before this season, the Dolphins had only finished inside the top 10 for fewest offsides penalties three times in those 17 seasons.

Note this: New England has been penalized 10 times for offsides this season, ranked 25th (in other words, 8th most) in the league. At this rate, they would end the season outside the top 10 for fewest offsides for just the 6th time in 18 seasons. They’ve averaged just 4.6 offsides penalties over the previous five seasons. Only the Jets (4.5) averaged fewer in that span.

Note this too:
The Dolphins have been flagged for a personal foul only once this season. Since ’95, only the 2000 Jets have gone a complete season with only one personal foul. The Ravens lead the NFL with 15 personal fouls through 11 games this season, but they’re still a long way from the 26 that the Raiders committed last season, the league’s highest single season mark since 1995.

* – Miami’s Ryan Tannehill has 26 pass completions for 190 yards on 3rd and 4th down plays that did not get a first down this season, the highest such yardage total in the league:

190 – Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins
180 – Robert Griffin III, Redskins
168 – Carson Palmer, Raiders

Tom Brady has 13 such completions for 103 yards this season.

Note this: The Patriots’ Wes Welker has caught seven such passes (3rd/4th down and did not convert) for 78 yards, the second highest yardage total in the league (Denver’s Demaryius Thomas, 93).

* – The Patriots tried using Stevan Ridley in the passing game fairly often early in the season, targeting him 10 times for 51 yards over the season’s first six weeks. However, over the last six weeks (five games), Ridley has only been targeted once (incomplete). It’s not that Brady isn’t using his running backs as receivers, as they accounted for 10% of all targets and yards over the first six games and 15% of targets/19% of yards over the last five. It’s just that Danny Woodhead (11 targets in first six games, 18 over the last five) and especially Shane Vereen (two targets for five yards over the first six, eight for 140 yards over last five).

Note this: As long as we’re talking about the evolution of the Patriots’ passing offense this season, Tom Brady had 10 touchdowns, three picks, and THIRTEEN sacks over the first six games this season and 14 touchdowns, ZERO picks, and only two sacks over the last five.

* – Over the last three games, Tanneyhill has attempted eight passes in the final two minutes of the half or game and none of them have hit the ground (five completions, THREE interceptions). For the season, Tanneyhill is 11-for-28 with four picks in the last two minutes of a half, which translates to an NFL Passer Rating of 18.0, the worst in the league and on track to be the worst by a Dolphins quarterback since they began tracking the stat in 1991.

If we only look at the last two minutes of the fourth quarter AND trailing by a touchdown or less, Tanneyhill’s line is 4-for-15 with two picks and an NFL Rating of 5.0, which would be the second worst in the NFL since at least 2000 (min. 15 such attempts):

2.8 – Kurt Warner, Rams , 2002
5.0 – Ryan Tanneyhill, Dolphins, 2012
12.7 – John Kitna, Lions , 2007
16.5 – Jason Campbell, Redskins , 2009

Note this: Since the start of the 2006 season (over six and a half seasons), there have been 119 touchdown passes thrown in the NFL within the last two minutes of the fourth quarter while trailing by a touchdown or less. The Dolphins are the only team without such a TD pass despite having at least one such possession in 19 different games during that span.

Note this too: Since 2000, Tom Brady has thrown eight touchdown passes in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter while trailing by a touchdown or less, the most such TD passes in that span:

8 – Tom Brady
7 – Ben Roethlisberger
7 – Aaron Brooks

Thanks to Football-Reference’s awesome play finder for making this research possible. Want to talk Patriots, stats, or just sports in general? Leave a comment here if you want. Or shoot me a tweet (@nuggetpalooza), I’ll read it for sure and try my best to respond.

Enjoy the game!



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