|Patriots credit Dolphins running attack, but mistakes ‘fixable’||09.08.14 at 6:37 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots went into the locker room with their heads held high Sunday as they led the Dolphins 20-10 in Miami, but rather than come home winners of their 11th straight season-opener, the team was outscored 23-0 in the second half and fell to the Dolphins, 33-20.
It was one of the worst second halves the Patriots have played in the Bill Belichick era as they hadn’t been outscored by that many points since Nov. 30, 2008 when the Steelers also outscored them 23-0 — a game played at Gillette Stadium and Matt Cassell was the Patriots quarterback.
The biggest issue for the Patriots in the second half was stopping the Dolphins rushing attack as they ran for 126 yards in the second half alone, including 91 from Knowshon Moreno.
“They did a great job running the ball and we didn’t do a great job in stopping the run,” defensive lineman Sealver Siliga said Monday. “I give it up to them, they came out and ran the ball in the second half.”
Moreno has had the Patriots’ number of late as he ran for 224 yards when he played against the Patriots last year with Denver during the regular season. He and the Dolphins controlled the line of scrimmage and were able to take control of the game in the second half with 191 of their 360 total yards of offense in the game coming on the ground.
“We just have to stop it,” safety Devin McCourty said. “There’s some technique things we’ll fix, but it comes down to fundamentals – being up there, defeating blockers, tackling guys and that’s what it’s about stopping the run.”
Being outscored by 23 points in the second half, there are bound to be questions raised about the team’s effort, but McCourty said that absolutely wasn’t the case and pointed to the final Miami possession of the game before their kneel down, where the Dolphins started at the Patriots’ 14-yard line and they held them to a field goal.
|Bill Belichick on Charles Clay’s versatility: ‘You have to find him’||09.03.14 at 1:04 pm ET|
FOXBORO — One of the traits of a Bill Belichick coached defense is its ability to focus on and shutdown one particular player of the opposition’s offense.
When facing the Dolphins, that player is shifty tight end Charles Clay.
In the Dec. 15 meeting in Miami last season (a 24-20 Dolphins win), the Patriots had Aqib Talib, their best cover man, line up against Clay on most plays and limited him to just one catch for six yards on two targets.
Overall, Clay led the Dolphins with six touchdowns last season and was a good complement to wide receivers Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace. Without Talib on this year’s team, Belichick and the Patriots will need to find another way to neutralize Clay come Sunday in the season-opener in Miami.
“You have to find him,” Belichick said. “He’s all over. Sometimes he’s in the normal tight end location but you certainly can’t count on that — flex, could be in the backfield, could be detached as a receiver. Yeah, they move him around.”
The Patriots could use Devin McCourty or linebacker Jamie Collins against him — both saw some plays against him last year — or whomever occupies the safety spot next to McCourty.
Clay isn’t a typical tight end in the fact he’s 6-foot-3 and 255 pounds with the ability to line up almost anywhere on the field — in the backfield, in the slot, or even on the outside. This is what makes him so difficult to defend and matchup against.
“It’s his quickness, his speed, his ability as a vertical receiver,” Belichick said. “He can really hurt you down the field, not that he can’t hurt you in short areas but he’s certainly a 20, 30, 40-yard type of guy when they hit him on those seams and overs, vertical routes.”
Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin acknowledged he and his staff studied last year’s game tape where the Patriots shut down Clay, but added a lot has changed personnel wise for both teams — not to mention the Dolphins have a new offensive coordinator this season in Bill Lazor.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 11: Patriots climb into top 5||11.12.13 at 11:28 am ET|
The Seahawks continue to soar high above the rest in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. As fellow NFC teams suffer injuries and decline, Seattle seems to be getting stronger, and its big offseason acquisition, Percy Harvin, is set to debut in Seahawk green. The Broncos stand pat at No. 2 as they survived a health scare to their franchise QB. The Chiefs are proud owners of a perfect record and jump the their highest spot all year at No. 3. They sat back and enjoyed their bye week as the Colts (6) and Niners (8) suffered losses and fell in the rankings.
The difference a year makes continues to be the story across the league. Playoff teams in 2012 like the Texans (28), Vikings (27), Redskins (26) and Falcons (25) continue to plummet in 2013. It seems highly unlikely any of those teams will make a return to the postseason. On the other hand, the Chiefs, Panthers (7) and Jets (11) all have exceeded expectations and are in the thick of the playoff race after being completely out of it at this time last year.
Week 11 will deliver one of the most anticipated matchups of the year as the league’s best offense clashes against one of the league’s best defenses in an AFC West battle. The Broncos and Chiefs will duke it out to maintain their position in the NFL’s elite. It should be an exciting week of football.
1. (1) Seahawks (8-1) — Last year Seattle owned a 3-5 record on the road; this year the Seahawks boast a 5-1 record away from CenturyLink Field. As Harvin nears a return to the field following hip surgery, the Seahawks’ lead in the NFC continues to grow.
2. (2) Broncos (8-1) — Peyton Manning re-aggravated an ankle injury, but that won’t sideline him when the Broncos take on the first-place Chiefs. Denver needs to be extra cautious with Manning. It may be even worth considering shutting him down for a week or two. Their chance for a Super Bowl title could be on the line.
3. (5) Chiefs (9-0) — The time finally has arrived for the Chiefs to prove to the rest of the league they are as good as their record indicates. It’s quite simple why Kansas City is at the top of the standings. The defense has been ferocious. The Chiefs have forced a league-high 23 turnovers.
4. (6) Patriots (7-2) — The Patriots are an astonishing 87-24 coming off their bye week since 2001. They’re 26-4 over the last three years alone. There’s no reason to believe Bill Belichick and Tom Brady won’t lead the Patriots to another impressive post-bye week performance when they take on the Panthers on Monday night.
|Halftime analysis: Patriots 14, Dolphins 7||09.12.11 at 8:39 pm ET|
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Patriots and Dolphins have reached halftime and New England holds a 14-7 lead after two quarters. Here are a few quick notes:
‘¢ Miami got the jump on the Patriots with a really impressive opening drive (12 plays, 84 yards), which consumed 7:18 and ended with a nine-yard run up the gut from quarterback Chad Henne. But New England quickly assumed control on both sides of the ball for most of the rest of the first half, putting together two efficient touchdown drives, one that ended with a run from BenJarvus Green-Ellis (four-yard run) and and a touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski (a 10-yarder). A late New England drive came up short when Stephen Gostkowski missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.
‘¢ The Patriots did a lot of rotating on both side of the ball throughout the first half in hopes of keeping their legs fresh in the wilting humidity of South Florida. The positions that stood out were: defensive line (where they didn’t have the same combinations on any of their defensive series’ throughout the first half), linebacker (Dane Fletcher and Gary Guyton, although that could be because of Guyton’s early struggles against the run) and offensive line (where Brian Waters and Dan Connolly combined at right guard).
‘¢ Tom Brady has had a lot of time — he had more than seven seconds to try and complete a second-quarter pass to Wes Welker that ended up falling incomplete. The New England offensive line (particularly the tackles, Matt Light and Nate Solder) are getting some help from Dan Gronkowski and his brother Rob, but they have done a very good job keeping outside linebackers Koa Misi and Cameron Wake at bay. (Solder was flagged for holding late in the first half, and Wake broke through with his first sack of the night on the next play.)
But the Patriots thin offensive line got even thinner after starting center Dan Koppen went down with what appeared to be a left leg injury late in the first half. Connolly replaced Koppen, while Waters moved to the right guard spot.
‘¢ Albert Haynesworth was part of the defensive line rotation, and held up well. (You have to figure a lot of that was due to New England’s constant rotation, but nevertheless….) He drew a pair of holding calls on Miami’s right guard Richie Incognito, and generally managed to cause a lot of havoc when he was on the field.
‘¢ A so-so night so far for New England’s special teamers. There’s been some good — a second-quarter punt from Zoltan Mesko was downed inside the five by Kyle Arrington. Meanwhile, Julian Edelman — who, along with Matthew Slater, appears to have seized the role of returner — fielded a second-quarter punt at his own one which will likely draw the ire of the coaches when the team watches the film later in the half.
|We are on the scene in Miami for Patriots and Dolphins||at 5:56 pm ET|
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Patriots have arrived in South Florida, and are ready to roll for their Monday Night matchup with the Dolphins at Sun-Life Stadium. Here are a few quick notes to get you started:
‘¢The Patriots have already made a personnel announcement, saying that offensive tackle Thomas Welch has been promoted from the practice squad, while linebacker Jeff Tarpinian has been waived. The move addresses the depth problems New England had entering the game — with no Sebastian Vollmer, the Patriots were with just two healthy tackles entering the contest in Matt Light and Nate Solder. Tarpinian’s future is unclear — he could return to the team, possibly on injured reserve (he had injury problems over the course of camp and saw the field only rarely).
‘¢The following players were listed as inactive for the game — linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, quarterback Ryan Mallett, wide receiver Taylor Price, linebacker Brandon Spikes, running back Shane Vereen, tackle Sebastian Vollmer and guard Ryan Wendell. No surprise on four of them, as they were downgraded to out on Sunday night (Price, Cunningham, Vollmer and Wendell), a group that included Tarpinian. Meanwhile, it’s clear that Spikes is continuing to work his way back to health, while Vereen hasn’t played much at all over the course of the preseason (he’s been slowed by a hamstring) while Mallett is a personnel move.
‘¢The Patriots will be going for their eighth consecutive win in regular-season openers Monday against the Dolphins — the last time New England lost a regular-season opener was 2003 against the Bills in Buffalo, where they suffered a 31-0 defeat. Things certainly set up very well for them from a statistical standpoint, as Miami was just 1-7 at home last season, which included a 41-14 New England win last October.
‘¢Here are some matchups to keep an eye on this evening, including Patriots quarterback Tom Brady against the Miami defense. Brady has struggled occasionally over the course of his career in Miami, but in his last three games against the Dolphins on South Beach, he has nine touchdowns, two interceptions and a 138.8 quarterback rating.
|Dolphins Thursday Injury Report: Only two RBs listed||09.08.11 at 4:28 pm ET|
As for the Dolphins, they listed just two players on their practice report:
Did Not Practice
RB Charles Clay (hamstring)
RB Daniel Thomas (hamstring)
|Postgame Notes: Patriots 38, Dolphins 7||01.02.11 at 5:39 pm ET|
Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are some postgame notes from Sunday’s contest:
BILL BELICHICK‘S WINNING WAYS
New England head coach Bill Belichick has guided the Patriots to an NFL-best 14-2 record this season. Belichick is the first head coach ever to win at least 14 regular-season games in four separate seasons. Only four other coaches ‘ San Francisco’s George Seifert (3), Washington’s Joe Gibbs (2), Chicago’s Mike Ditka (2) and Miami’s Don Shula (2) ‘ have more than one 14-win season.
PATRIOTS SET NFL RECORD FOR FEWEST TURNOVERS IN A 16-GAME SEASON
The Patriots had just 10 turnovers in 2010 (5 interceptions and 5 fumbles), setting an NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season. The previous NFL record for fewest turnovers in a season was 12 by Kansas City in the strike-shortened 1982 season. The previous record for fewest turnovers in a 16-game season was 13 by the Giants and Dolphins in 2008. The former Patriots record for fewest turnovers in a season was 15 in 2007 (9 interceptions and 6 fumbles).
PATRIOTS TIE NFL RECORD FOR FEWEST INTERCEPTIONS IN A SEASON
The Patriots had just five passes intercepted in 2010, tying the NFL mark for fewest interceptions in a single season. New England attempted 507 passes in 2010, with just five resulting in interceptions. The other teams to have only five interceptions in a season were the 1960 Cleveland Browns, the 1966 Green Bay Packers, the 1990 Kansas City Chiefs and the 1990 New York Giants.
PATRIOTS CLOSE OUT THE 2010 SEASON WITH AN 8-0 RECORD AT HOME
The Patriots finished with a perfect 8-0 regular-season record at Gillette Stadium for the second consecutive season. New England has now finished perfect at home five times in team history (2003, 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2010). The Patriots are the only team in the NFL to finish undefeated at home in 2010. New England has won 17 straight regular-season home games, with its last home loss coming on Nov. 30, 2008 against Pittsburgh. The Patriots’ 17 straight home wins marks the longest current streak in the NFL and the second longest in franchise history, trailing only the Patriots’ 18 straight home wins from 2002-2005. The Patriots own a 60-12 regular-season record at Gillette Stadium since the facility opened in 2002.
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