The New England Patriots played the worst first half of their season today against the Dolphins, getting blanked 17-0 on the scoreboard. Dolphins QB Matt Moore looked like a Pro Bowler, completed 10 passes for 179 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a 120.3 QB rating. Reggie Bush ran 16 times for 81 yards, good for 5.1 yards per carry. Brandon Marshall had 5 catches for 102 yards for 1 touchdown. On the flip side, Tom Brady was 7-of-19 for 87 yards, no touchdowns, was sacked 3 times, and a QB rating of 51.9. Collectively, the Patriots’ running backs rushed for 33 yards on 9 carries. The Pats had a chance to put some points on the board at the end of the half, but a 51-yard field goal attempt by Stephen Gostkowski was wide left, summing up the half for the team.
Then came the second half.
The Patriots looked more like themselves in the second half. The Patriots opened up the half with a field goal, and then 2 Matt Moore fumbles later, the Patriots had the game tied. Tom Brady, who was harassed and completely off-target throughout the first half, looked like his MVP-caliber self led the Pats to 27 unanswered points. The comeback was helped by Rob Gronkowski, who barreled through would-be tacklers en route to a 7-catch, 78-yard day. Wes Welker overcame some early drops to catch 12 passes for 138 yards, including a 42-yard catch. The Patriots also utilized RB Stevan Ridley more in the second half, and he finished the day rushing 13 times for 64 yards.
The Patriots’ struggles on offense were likely due in part to the injuries on the left side of the offensive line. LT Matt Light had his ankle flare up before the game and didn’t play, while LG Logan Mankins suffered a left knee injury early in the first quarter and didn’t return to the game. Mankins started the game at left tackle and was replaced by rookie Nate Solder. Rookie Marcus Cannon took over for Solder at right tackle. After allowing numerous pressures on Brady in the first half, the new-look line tightened up and allowed only one sack, compared to the three they let up in the first half.
Next up is the regular season finale at home against the Buffalo Bills, who won handily over the Denver Broncos 40-14.