Patriots - Dolphins: Game Balls & Goats

PatriotsInsider.com
Posted Dec 6, 2009


The Patriots blew a 14 point lead to let the Dolphins back into the AFC East race. Miami 22 - New England 21. Who deserves credit and who deserves blame? We hand out our patented Game Balls and Goats

GAME BALLS AND GOATS

WEEK 13: Patriots @ Dolphins
Miami 22 - New England 21.

GAME BALLS:

1) Tom Brady - despite throwing a late interception to effectively end the game, Tom Brady did just about all he could do to give the Patriots the division and the win. Brady finished 19 of 29 for 352 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. He still eclipsed 30,000 yards and 300 on the day. It is Brady's sevenths 300-yard game this season, one shy a franchise best 8 set by Brady in 2007.

2) Wes Welker - There is no substitute for the diminutive receiver who continues to pile up yards and catches year-in, year-out. Welker finished with 10 receptions for 167 yards. It is his 5th 10 catch game this season 2 shy of NFL record. Welker now has 10 consecutive games with 6+ catches, the NFL record is 16 held by Colts WR Marvin Harrison.

3) Dolphins Chad Henne - You have to give credit to Chad Henne who carved up the Patriots defense underneath, managing to convert 10 of 19 third downs. Henne finished 209 of 52 for 335 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT. For a QB who had plenty of pressure on him to carry the load without a successful Wildcat offense behind him, Henne stepped up to the plate and delivered. His final drive won the game by getting the Dolphins into position to kick the winning FG.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Sam Aiken - Aiken turned in one of the best plays of the year, picking a pass out of the defender's hands that should have been an interception. Aiken not only snagged the pass, but had the presence to stay inbounds and run the distance for an 81-yard TD. It was the longest TD for the Patriots this year. Aiken also played special teams.

Randy Moss - though the interception in the end zone by Vontae Davis appeared to be a play Moss could have disrupted, he still caught 2 passes for 66 yards including a 58-yard deep strike to keep the Miami defense honest on the deep pass. Moss now has 28 50-yard plays second only to Jerry Rice's 36.

Ty Warren - when Warren was in the game, the Patriots were able to contain the run and set the edge. Warren batted down a late game pass by Chad Henne to help the Pats defense. His stats do not reflect his contributions.

Jerod Mayo - Mayo led all Patriots defenders with 12 tackles (9 solo), 0.5 sacks and a QB hurry.


GOATS:
There are too many to limit this category today. Plenty of blown plays, calls, moves…

1) 3rd Down Defense - In what has become a classic problem for the Patriots defense, their inability to shut down a team on 3rd down came back to bite them. Miami converted 10 of 19 third downs (53%). To put that in perspective the worst teams in the league are St. Louis (48%), Atlanta and Chicago (46%),. The Patriots were averaging 38.9% per game before Sunday.

2) Coaching - there's no way to sugar coat this… the coaching decisions made recently have really hurt the team. Not kicking a FG on fourth down in the Miami red zone came back to bite the Patriots. Throwing deep when a few first downs in the second have would have won the game, killed them. A handoff on a jumbo package to the upback when you have Randy Moss and Wes Welker on the sideline on 4th down… unforgivable. Lack of adjustments on defense, condemned them. All-in-all, the coaching staff has let this team down time and again. You can blame players for lack of execution, but questionable calls by the coaching staff, let Miami back in the game.

3) Patriots secondary - When it's ugly, it is ugly. The Patriots secondary has been exposed. They have failed to adjust and continue to leave players wide open. The perfect illustration came late in the game when Chad Henne overthrew Polite on a short pass to the right. The Patriots had a blitz on, but the secondary completely whiffed, not covering Polite with anyone. It's one more illustration that Dean Pees and Bill Belichick do not have their defense in tune with the scheme they're trying to run. The Colts burned it up, the Saints exposed it and the Dolphins took advantage. That's 3 failures in 4 games. If it's not fixed, the Patriots could miss the playoffs.

Dishonorable Mentions:
Jonathan Wilhite - burned twice today. Had his back to the QB when the receiver was catching the ball a full yard away on the sideline. How fast his stock has fallen.

Pass rush - Even when they blitz, the Patriots defense is unable to get to the quarterback. Derrick Burgess, Adalius Thomas, even the corner or safety blitzes had no effect. When the Patriots rushed three, the Dolphins had all day to throw. Poor production up front has exposed the porous secondary.

James Sanders - Sanders was given a 3-year contract before the season. He has barely been on the field since.

Special Teams- Since Brad Seely left, the Patriots have become average on special teams. They're averaging less than 20 yards per KO return. That's just unacceptable.

Have your own Game Balls or Goats?
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