The afternoon game of the Texans and Colts was a game the Patriots were very interested in because if the Texans lost New England would clinch a much needed bye week in the playoffs along with a win over the Dolphins. The Colts and Andrew Luck helped out the Patriots in beating the Texans allowing New England the bye week with a win over the Dolphins in the evening games. Tom Brady last week spoke to his team and lashed into them about their mediocre performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Sunday, safe to say message was heard today. The Patriots easily rolled to a win to end the regular season.
Tom Brady connected with Wes Welker on a 9 yard touchdown pass to get the scoring started for New England. The Patriots did a good job at ball control, with an balance attack. Steven Ridley ran in two touchdowns from the 2 and 1 yard line before the half. The Patriots were up 21-0 at half and ended their scoring with a 23 yard touchdown drive to tight end Rob Gronkowski who was playing in limit time in his first game back after missing most of the last half of the season. Gronkowski was protecting his arm heavily when he was in the game by blocking with his good arm and side only, and he did it successfully. Tom Brady finished the day 22 of 36 for 284 yards and two touchdown passes. Steven Ridley finished with 74 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive line kept Brady upright for most of the game and had a heck of a ball game. The offense escaped without injuries but are certainly excited for the bye to rest and get even more healthy.
The defense had a good day even though they had missing pieces. It is clear Aqib Talib and Alfonzo Dennard need to get healthy for the playoffs so Devin McCourty can move back to safety. McCourty showed us in spots today why he doesn’t belong at corner back ever, as he gave up some plays in today’s game making the same mistakes he usually does at that spot on defense. Over all the defense was very impressive. They still have holes like linebackers in cover but the Dolphins couldn’t expose that with their QB on the ground for the better part of the game. The Patriots had a season high 7 sacks, and blitzed, and brought a ton of pressure against the rookie QB Ryan Tannehill. The Patriots defense was very aggressive, and when the Patriots defense plays aggressive, their pass rush is much better. Rookie Justin Franchis had 3 sacks in the game, Vince Wilfork with a sack, Brandon Deadrick with a sack, and Trevor Scott had a sack as well. The Patriots defense should be this aggressive every game with every team to boost their pass rush. The Patriots are the best at getting turnovers on defense and added two more today, Steven Gregory picked off Tannehill, and Dont’a Hightower recovered a fumble on a bad hand off from Tannehill to his RB. The only bad news from the game is Rob Ninkovich left the game with a hip injury and from a eye view it looked bad with how he was limping off the field with help. He needs to get healthy for the playoffs as he harasses the QB a lot more then most of the other guys on the line.
The Patriots though have a bye week to breath, relax, and get healthy.