The New England Patriots wrapped up the regular season with another dominating win, defeating the Miami Dolphins 38-7. Tom Brady started the game as did most of the regular starters, minus Wes Welker and Deion Branch. Despite missing his top two receivers, Brady continued to be his efficient self, throwing for 199 yards and 2 touchdowns before being yanked in the third quarter. Julian Edelman had a big day, seeing his most significant playing time of the season. He caught 3 passes for 72 yards and set a Patriots team record with a 94-yard punt return for a touchdown at the end of the first half. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was able to reach his personal milestone of a 1,000-yard season, finishing with 1,008 yards on the season (80 yards and a TD today).
But it didn’t end there.
Rookie TE Rob Gronkowski caught 6 balls for 102 yards and his 10th TD of the season, second-most all-time for a rookie TE. Rookie WR Taylor Price got his first game action of the year and played pretty well, catching 3 passes for41 yards. Another rookie, Pro-Bowler Devin McCourty intercepted his seventh pass of the season, tying him for first in the league with Asante Samuel. Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich also turned in solid performances, sacking Miami quarterbacks two times each.
Chad Henne was replaced in the game by Tyler Thigpen, but neither could really get the Miami offense going. The Patriots forced two turnovers, one the INT by McCourty, and another a Ricky Williams fumble forced by Eric Moore. The defense held the Miami running combo of Williams and Ronnie Brown to only 44 total yards. The touchdown came after Darius Butler was called for a big pass interference penalty and then gave up the TD to Davone Bess. Butler had good coverage but Bess made a good play with a one-handed grab.
The Pats came out of the game relatively unscathed. Woodhead left the game early after fumbling (the first Patriots’ turnover in 8 games) with a head injury and did not return. He was likely held out as a precautionary move, and he appeared to be OK in the locker room after the game. Myron Pryor, returning after missing several weeks, left the game with an eye injury. The Pats have to be happy that these were the only bumps and bruises from what was essentially a meaningless game. The Patriots now head into the playoffs with a ton of momentum, a stark contrast from last season. Now we just have to play the waiting game to find out who they will play in two weeks.