One real practice. That is all the Miami Dolphins got this week in their effort to slay the six-time reigning AFC East division leaders and reigning Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. That is a tough task for any team. It is nearly impossible for a team heading into just their third game under an interim head coach. The schedule, created long before Miami ever fired Jore Philbin and named Dan Campbell as the interim head coach, certainly did not do Campbell any favors, and the team played like a club who did not have enough time to prepare for facing the Patriots.The
Patriots were on their game on Thursday, something that should not be a surprise. Quarterback Tom Brady is 8-0 on Thursday Night Football. The game was in New England, where the Patriots have not lost a meaningful game since Week 15 of the 2013 season (Week 17 last year, the Patriots rested most of their starters including Tom Brady only playing part of the game). New England does not lost at home, and they do not lose on Thursday night. The schedule certainly did not do Miami any favors.
None of that, however, changes the fact that the Dolphins came out flat, trying to react to what the Patriots were doing rather than trying to dictate the game. New England came out attacking, and Miami was not ready. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was constantly under pressure, with the Patriots sacking him five times on the night. The running game for Miami, which had re-emerged the past two weeks, only gained 15 total yards on the day. The Patriots did everything right, and they allowed Miami to beat themselves - incluing an ugly safety in which Tannehill seemed to be the only player not expecting the snap, allowing the ball to fly past him and out of the endzone for the two free points for New England.
Tannehill struggled in every aspect of the game on Thursday, though he did throw for 300 yards during the game. He finished the night 28-for-44 for 300 yards, with two interceptions, and a passer rating of 64.6. Lamar Miller carried the ball nine times for 15 yards, giving him a 1.7 yards per carry average, though he did talley a touchdown.
Miami's defense was able to get to Brady twice, with Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon each recording a sack. They have to be able to get after Brady more than that, however, if they want to make him uncomfortable in the pocket. It will not be easy as Wake, second in the league in sacks this season with seven, has now been lost for the year after tearing his Achilles during the game.
The Dolphins defense allowed 437 yards of offense for the Patriots, 342 of it through the air. The did not force a turnover on the day, and they just could not stop tight end Rob Gronkowski, who caught six passes for 113 yards with a touchdown, as well as running back Dion Lewis who caught six passes for 93 yards and a score and Julian Edelman, who caught seven passes for 81 yards and two scores.
Wake was not the only Dolphins player to be injured during the game. Starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James left the game with an injured toe and rookie receiver DeVante Parker injured his already surgically repaired foot. Miami had come into this game fairly healthy, but left it banged and bruised.
The Dolphins simply got beat by the better team on Thursday. There is no other way to put it. The Patriots are clearly the class of the AFC East, and have now swept their way through the rest of the division in the first half of the annual home-and-home series. The question now becomes how the Dolphins react. Will they be ready in 10 days to face the Buffalo Bills? Will the Dan Campbell magic return to a team that looked out classed throughout the game on Thursday?
It was just one game, and there is still a lot of football left to be played. The majority of the AFC is sitting right around the .500 mark on the season, so the Dolphins are not out of anything yet. They just have to be the team that beat the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans. Not the team that did not show up in Weeks 1 through 4, and not the team that was on the field last night.