Dolphins @ Patriots REPORT CARD
posted at 1/2/2011 6:21 PM EST
Good to see the Pats end their regular season in style, with a 38-7 thumping of the Miami Dolphins. The only negatives to this afternoon were an alleged "head injury" to Danny Woodhead, and the Raiders winning in Kansas City. Now, assuming that the Colts beat the Titans, the Pats will likely face either the Baltimore Ravens or the Jets in their first playoff game. Here are my grades: A.) OFFENSE:
Pretty much smooth as silk, as usual. Even the reserves looked good. 1.) QBs:
Tom Brady was his usual terrific self...until sitting down midway in the 3rd quarter. He finished with 10 completions in 16 attempts for 199 yards, two (2) TDs, and, as usual, no interceptions. In so doing, Tom extended his records for most passing attempts without an interception, and most games with at least two TD passes and no picks. He also became just the 7th QB in NFL history to throw at least one TD pass in every regular season game.
Back-up QB Brian Hoyer looked nervous in his first half cameo appearance. But, he looked confident and sharp when he returned in the second half. Hoyer finished with 7 completions in 13 attempts, for 122 yards, one TD, and no interceptions.GRADE: A;
After a beautiful 19 yards run to help set up the Pats initial TD, Danny Woodhead fumbled on hisd next carry, after getting crunched by Miami defenders. Though it was said that he left the game with a head injury, one wonders if he left the game at least partially as a reminder that BB doesn't tolerate fumbles from his RBs. BJGE did his usual workman-like job, finishing with 20 carries for 80 yards. It was obvious that BB left him in during the 3rd quarter so that he could notch a 1000 yard season, which he did...as the Pats were handing him the ball in obvious passing situations:GRADE: B;
Excellent performance by the "Big Uglies" again, as they protected Tom Brady as if he were their own mother. Kept sack artist Cameron Wake in check, and opened sufficient holes for the RBs when needed:GRADE: A;
4.) TEs and WRs:
Both Gronkowski and Crumpler aided the OLO, as usual, with their blocking skills. Gronk continues to improve as a receiver, as he had six catches for 102 yards, and a TD. His TD catch was his tenth this year, breaking the team record previously held by Ben Coates for the most TD receptions by a Patriot TE in a season. It's really too early to make career predictions. But, if this kid stays healthy, he could develop into the best TE in the game. Alge Crumpler chipped in with a TD catch, as well.
As for the WRs, with Wes Welker and Deion Branch being rested, there was a Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman, and even a Taylor Price sighting! Edelman finished with 3 receptions for 72 yards, Tate with two catches for 82 yards, including an outstanding, diving catch of a 42 yard Hoyer heave, for a TD...and Price added three catches for 41 yards. Hardly was heard a discouraging word about this group today:GRADE: A;
But for a questionable PI call on Darius Butler during the height of garbage time, this unit would have pitched a shut-out. Of course, their job was made considerably easier by an offense which held the ball for 60% of the game.1.) DL:
Shut down early 'Fin attempts to run the ball, and dominated. Vince Wilfolk played like this was the SB, as he finished with three solo tackles, and two sacks. He would have had a third sack, but for a bogus helmet to helmet flag. Eric Moore was solid inside again, and stripped Ricky Williams on a running play, causing a fumble. This was perhaps the DL's best game of the season:GRADE: A+;
Jerod Mayo led the team again in tackles with six, including four solos, and a sack. Rob Ninkovich finished with 4 tackles (all solos), two sacks, and a fumble recovery, following the aforementioned Moore strip. Dane Fletcher and Gary Guyton were solid overall:GRADE: A;
Devin McCourty showed his pro-bowl colors again with an early pick, giving the offense a short field, as they drove for their first TD. Lots of substituting gave Darius Butler extended playing time and, but for the aforementioned PI call, he acquitted himself well. Dittos to Kyle Arrington, as the 'Fins were never in this game offensively:GRADE: A-;
C.) SPECIAL TEAMS:
Outstanding 94 yard punt return by Julian Edelman put an end to any chance at a contest, in the closing minute of the first half. It's getting to the point where teams may start to consider kicking away from Edelman on punts. Good kick coverage overall by the Pats...and a good job punting by "Zoltan the Magnificent", on the two times that he was called upon:GRADE: A;
Yoda continues to find ways to motivate his players. It's great to see such an outstanding effort by the team, in what was a meaningless game. Though the Globsters were criticizing him for playing Tom Brady in the second half, it made sense to fuel this teams' momentum with a blow-out, heading into the money games. I really don't have enough superlatives to describe the incredible job BB and his staff have done with this team...and especially the younger players:GRADE: A+;
E.) PLAY OF THE GAME:
As usual, there are many to choose from. But I'll go with the McCourty pick, which set the tone for the game;
F.) PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Julian Edelman finished with 197 total yards for the game...including that electrifying 94 yard punt return.
Here are the game stats: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=310102017