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Nuggetpalooza: All the stats as Patriots close regular season against Dolphins

12.28.12 at 11:15 am ET

The Patriots, still clinging to slim hopes of grabbing a playoff bye, close out the regular season with a matchup against the pesky Dolphins this Sunday in Foxboro. Get ready with some numbers that I thought you might find interesting.

* – Since 2000, most career passing yards in the season’s final week:

2,190 – Tom Brady
2,179 – Brett Favre
1,866 – Matt Hasselbeck

* – New England has won nine of its last 11 games on the final week of the season, including 4-of-5 on the road in that stretch.

Note this: The Packers have closed out nine straight (and 18-of-19) regular seasons with victories.

Note this, too: I noticed that somebody published the stat that the Cowboys have lost 10-of-12 regular-season finales. But once I looked at it, I found it interesting that they failed to mention that Dallas has won two of the last three. Guess THAT didn’t fit the agenda.

* – The Patriots have scored at least one rushing touchdown in each of their last eight games against the Dolphins, their longest such streak ever against Miami. However, it’s not their longest such streak against any opponent, as they ran for a score in 18 straight games against the Colts (1974-1983) and 15 against the Bills (1969-1979).

* – The Dolphins have ripped off a run of 10 or more yards in each of their last 33 games, dating back to Dec. 26, 2010. That’s the longest current streak in the league. 10 teams have registered a rushing play of 10 or more yards in every game this season, including the Dolphins (obviously) and the Patriots. If New England can extend that streak on Sunday, it would be the fourth season since 2000 that they’ve managed a run of 10 or more yards in every game.

* – The Patriots have 416 first downs this season, tied with the 2011 Saints for the most sine they began tracking the stat. Those two teams are the only ones to break 400 first downs in a season. The old Patriots club record was 399, by last year’s team.

* – New England has a great chance to set the club record for third-down conversion percentage:

48.6 percent – Patriots, 2012
48.2 percent – Patriots, 2010
48.2 percent – Patriots, 2007

* – All-time leaders in passing touchdowns against the Dolphins:

37 – Tom Brady
30 – Drew Bledsoe
26 – Joe Ferguson
25 – Ken O’Brien
24 – Jim Kelly

Note this: Brady has thrown 51 TD passes against the Bills, his most against any single opponent.

Note this, too: In Brady’s seven games against the Dolphins since the start of the 2009 season, he’s managed only one touchdown pass in four of those games.

* – The Patriots are 445 total yards away from their club record of 6,848, set last year. Their current total of 6,403 is their third-best mark for a season. Only five teams since 1970 (including last season’s Patriots) have accumulated 6,800 or more total yards in a season. The record is 7,474, by the 2011 Saints.

* – The much-more-competitive Dolphins have run 375 offensive plays this season (41 percent of their total) while the game was very close (score within three points either way). That figure was only 36 percent last season.

NFL note: A total of 54 percent of offensive plays run by the Steelers this season have come while the score was within a field goal either way, the highest percentage in the league. It’s the third time in the last five seasons that they’ve led the league in “close” percentage.

* – Only 17.0 percent of rushing plays against the Dolphins have resulted in first downs this season, the lowest/best percentage in the league:

17.0 percent – Dolphins
17.7 percent – 49ers
17.8 percent – Broncos

* – New England already has 2,017 rushing yards this season, their third highest total since 1988. If they can manage 118 or more yards on the ground this Sunday, they’ll pass the 2004 team for their second most since 1988. Their team record is 3,165 rushing yards, by the 1978 squad.

* – The Patriots have converted a league high 33 percent (16-of-48) on third down and 10 or more yards to go this season. That breaks down to 14-of-38 (37 percent) on their own side of the field and 2-of-10 (20 percent) in opponent territory.

Note this: New England’s defense has allowed 26 percent conversions on such tries, broken down as 10-of-41 (24 percent) in opponent territory and 4-of-13 (31 percent) on New England’s side of the field, the fifth highest/worst such conversion percentage allowed in the league.

* – The Patriots have run a league-high 39 rushing plays from at or inside their opponent’s 5-yard line this season, but have managed only 24 total yards on those runs. Stevan Ridley has rushed 18 times from at or inside the five, and has been stopped for no gain or a loss on 10 of those runs, totaling minus-1 yard rushing on those 18 attempts, the lowest total by any rusher since 2000 (min. 15 such attempts):

-1 – Stevan Ridley, Patriots, 2012 (18 carries)
0 – Marshawn Lynch, Bills/Seahawks, 2010 (15)
2 – Clinton Portis, Redskins, 2004 (15)

* – Dolphins pass rushers have recorded a hurry or a quarterback knock down on 23.3 percent of opponent passing plays this season (141-of-605), the second-highest percentage in the league:

24.4 percent – Cardinals
23.3 percent – Dolphins
23.0 percent – Broncos
22.6 percent – Bengals
22.4 percent – Raiders

* – The Patriots have a good shot at breaking their own league record for long drives of 10 or more plays this season. Currently they stand at 39 such drives, two short of the league mark, set by the 2007 Patriots:

41 – Patriots, 2007
40 – Colts, 2010
39 – Patriots, 2012
39 – Saints, 2010

* – On third downs late in the game (fourth quarter with five minutes or less remaining), the Patriots have converted just 7-of-27 (25.9 percent), ranked 24th in the league. On all other third down tries, New England has converted 97-of-182 (53.2 percent).

Note this: Since the start of the 2010 season, the Dolphins have converted just 25.4 percent of those late game third downs (16-of-63), the lowest/worst conversion rate in the league in that span. During that same span, the Patriots have allowed 48.3 percent conversions in such situations, by far the highest/worst conversion rate allowed in that span:

48.3 percent – Patriots (29-of-60)
40.3 percent – Vikings (31-of-77)
40.3 percent – Raiders (29-of-72)
38.4 percent – Eagles (28-of-73)

Enjoy the game and Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that another NFL regular season is coming to an end already.



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