By Lorenzo Recupero
The New England Patriots laid out the blueprint for how to quiet the naysayers on Sunday.
In the fashion of true greatness, the Patriots pulled a 180 in just one week, quickly turning around dismal play on both sides of the ball while reminding us all who they are: the NFL’s sole dynasty.
The, 38-7, dismantling of the Miami dolphins (3-1), who were one of only a few remaining undefeated teams in the league, serves as proof that the Patriots are back on the right track – and at the least, still the team to beat in the AFC East.
Tom Brady looked sharp (save for his two interceptions), the running backs offered their best performances of the season, the newest addition, Josh Gordon, was as good as can be expected, and most importantly the defense showed they still have some wheels under them.
The effort and output on both offense and defense in last week’s win over Miami was a stark contrast from the complexion of the team’s first 3 games of the season, where team totals placed them in the bottom half of the league.
So, if you’re feeling better about the Patriots (2-2) following week 4 of the young NFL season, you aren’t alone. They more than made up for such a slow and scary start.
Tom Brady‘s play was not ideal (23-25, 274, 3 TDs, 2 INTs), but Sunday’s matchup proved the team is coming together as a unit. The cohesiveness was most clearly showcased on the 55-yard touchdown pass from Brady to team newcomer Cordarelle Patterson (the 70th recipient of a Brady TD pass) early in the second quarter. Brady’s pass wasn’t perfect, but like a QB-WR duo that is truly in tune, Patterson tracked down the ball and treated his passer to a touchdown. That play just happened to be the longest passing play of the season for Brady and the Pats.
Furthermore, the running backs finally decided to show up and show out.
Super bowl hero, James White, led the team with 8 bailout receptions and rookie running back Sony Michel had the breakout performance his advocates (most notably Josh McDaniel’s) have been waiting for. He carried the ball 25 times for a career-high 112 yards to go along with a touchdown. His able body in the back eld meant a lot more than his first career 100-yard game, though. His ability to get to and through the holes opened by the offensive line helped set the pace for the Patriots offense. To put Michel’s performance against Miami into perspective, he had just 84 total yards in the first three games combined.
With the new wide receivers and running backs getting more involved, the offense looked healthier and a lot more balanced.
The effort on the part of the defense should not be understated, though.
Miami, after all, boast one of the best receiving corps and was without a blemish before the two teams met on Sunday. The Dolphins’ starting quarterback, Ryan Tannenhill, entered the game averaging 229 yards and two TDs per game. He exited in the fourth quarter 11-of- 20 with 100 passing yards, an interception (by rookie J.C. Jackson), a fumble, and a passer rating of 55.0.
The Patriots have afforded their New England faithful an opportunity to exhale and no longer hold their collective breaths. Sunday’s win seemingly righted the ship and gave fans something to feel good about.
So, in the words of Bill Belichick (in which we trust): On to Indianapolis.