So much for relying on a smothering, shutdown defense to carry the Patriots to victory. How about an opportunistic, bend-but-don't-break defense and dynamic special teams instead?
In a game in which they allowed 400 yards of total offense, the Patriots managed to crush the Dolphins 41-14 in Miami on Monday night. They did it with four interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, a kickoff return for a touchdown and a blocked field goal for a touchdown -- a rare trifecta that left Miami with no answers.
"There was a lot of questions and doubts about our team, and I think as a team we really showed what we are made of," quarterback Tom Brady
Brady's comments carry a little more weight since he was as fired up as anybody Monday. The Patriots removed him from the game in the closing minutes and he pumped his fists in celebration as he left the field, ending his brief show of emotion with a warm embrace for his coach, Bill Belichick.
The Patriots had every right to be proud of themselves following the win. They've dealt with a lot of criticism lately because of their inability to win on the road or stop anyone defensively. On Monday night, they came up with four interceptions to stall Miami's progress and recorded their most noteworthy road win in almost two years.
Many of the New England players have adopted the "us against them" mentality in regards to the media, a popular refrain during the early years of the dynasty before anyone knew how good the team really was.
"It's kind of hard to come to work in your own back yard and have your beat writers for your own team that they see you every day, and every last one of them go against you," nose tackle Vince Wilfork
said. "They have a job to do, I understand that. At the same token, you wonder why (players) act the way they act sometimes with them, because of stuff like that. So, you know what, (Monday) night, like I told them, 'You guys have all the answers. We're going to keep doing what we do.'"
If the Patriots continue to do what they did Monday, they'll be in good shape, even if they still need to shore up the defense a bit. What's clear is the team is finding creative ways to win, and that's been good enough to get them to 3-1 entering the bye week.
"The players will be in on Thursday, and in the meantime the coaching staff will work (Tuesday) and (Wednesday), working on things that we think will benefit our team, both in the short and long run," Belichick said. "A lot of meetings, a lot of film watching, we'll take our time to discuss things ... more than a regular game week. Take a longer, closer look at some things without the pressure of (creating) game plans."
--Nose tackle Vince Wilfork had more to say regarding media predictions that Miami would win Monday's game. The team's in-house publication, "Patriots Football Weekly," unanimously picked Miami, which ruffled a few feathers in New England's locker room.
"At first I saw it, but I really didn't pay it no attention," Wilfork said. "I was like, 'OK, some stats they're putting up.' When I actually walked by and saw it, and I saw everybody -- like I said, our own people going against us, it was like, 'Hmm, that's pretty interesting.' So, you know what? I could sit here and be (ticked) off all day and all morning, but I'm not going to do that. It's OK."
--The Dolphins fired special teams coach John Bonamego in the aftermath of Monday's debacle in which they had a punt and a field goal blocked and allowed a touchdown on a kickoff return.
"I don't think much of anything that happens in the league these days is a surprise or unheard of," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said. "It's kind of too bad. ... I'm sure what any other team does is in the best interest of their team, and I respect that. I'm sure those decisions aren't easy to make."
--On a night in which the special teams unit did most of the work, the Patriots offense didn't have much of a say in the outcome.
was held without a catch for the first time as a Patriot, though Tom Brady said Moss was still a big part of the game plan.
"When they take him away, really what it does is opens up other guys, and they're really fortunate to have him on their team," Brady said. "Even though he didn't have a catch, He's a big part of the win. He doesn't ever say anything. He understands sometimes that's just the way it goes."
This report courtesy of The Sports Xchange
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The Patriots turned in a game of the ages against Miami under the bright lights of Monday Night Football. Downing the Dolphins 41-14 should have been enough to silence their critics, at least that's what they hope.