The Miami Dolphins never bothered to show up against the New England Patriots in a game that could have signaled the changing of the guard atop the AFC East. Instead, Miami is back to looking like a pretender, despite remaining in the lead in the division, and the Patriots are back to being the leading contender for the AFC spot in the Super Bowl.
In a week in which the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets both lost, Miami had a chance to be three games clear of the division title after just four games were played. Instead, they wilted in front of the Patriots and now are just a game clear of the Patriots. The Dolphins simply had no answer for anything the Patriots wanted to do on Sunday, losing in just about every aspect of the game.
It was such a bad game that Brock Osweiler replaced Ryan Tannehill with more than half the fourth quarter to go.
New England won the game 38-7.
I honestly do not know how to react to this game. Everything that could go wrong for the Dolphins did, and the Patriots looked like the defending AFC Champions. Maybe this was just a bad game. Maybe this is proof that the Dolphins were pretenders through the first three weeks - as Stephen A. Smith made sure to tweet out as quickly as he could. This week will be miserable as everyone jumps on the Dolphins and everyone who started to see them as a decent team backtracks as fast as they can. The Dolphins definitely missed Reshad Jones on defense, but the offense was constipated the entire day.
In all, it was a long, embarrassing day.
On to the Bengals next week.
The Patriots won the coin toss and deferred. The Dolphins will get the ball first.
Dolphins first possession. Ryan Tannehill found Kenny Stills for 22 yards on first down. He then came back for three yards to Danny Amendola. Kenyan Drake picked up his first carry of the game, picking up three yards, but holding was called on Daniel Kilgore and Miami backed up to 2nd-and-17. Drake then ran for five yards on second down. On 3rd-and-12, Miami went back to the bubble screen, picking up five yards on a Tannehill to Albert Wilson pass before punting.
Patriots first possession. After a short punt from Matt Haack, the Patriots started with the ball at their own 24-yard line. Sony Michel started with a carry for no gain. Tom Brady then found James White for five yards. After an incomplete pass appeared to stall the drive, a holding call on Xavien Howard gave the Patriots new life. Michel then picked up nine yards, followed by 12 yards, followed by 14 yards. Robert Quinn was then called for offsides, giving the Patriots another five free yards. White picked up five yards and four yards on the next two plays, before Josh Gordon’s first catch as a Patriots players set up 1st-and-Goal from the Miami three. After two runs were unable to convert, Brady through towards Cordarrelle Patterson, but Minkah Fitzpatrick broke up the pass and the Patriots settled for a field goal.
Dolphins second possession. Miami’s offense continued to look stagnant at the start of the next drive, with an incomplete pass followed by no gain from Kenyan Drake. On 3rd-and-10, an incomplete pass was offset by a holding penalty on the Patriots, giving Miami a first down. Tannehill then threw short to Wilson for no gain, followed by an incomplete pass as Tannehill looked deep toward Wilson. Tannehill was hit as he tried to throw the pass on 3rd-and-10, leading to another Miami punt.
Patriots second possession. Michel lost one yard on first down, then Brady found Rob Gronkowski for 12 yards. After an incomplete pass toward White, White picked up one yard on the carry. Brady then looked deep toward Phillip Dorsett, but Bobby McCain peeled off of the deeper route and picked off the pass.
Pick! McCain peels off the deep route and gets the easy interception. pic.twitter.com/mbUoHNHodD— Kevin Nogle (@thephinsider) September 30, 2018
Dolphins third possession. Two short runs from Frank Gore set up Miami with 3rd-and-8, then Laremy Tunsil was called for a false start and Miami faced a 3rd-and-13.
Dolphins third possession (continued). Tannehill found Stills for seven yards, but the Dolphins would punt after the three-and-out possession.
Patriots third possession. Haack punted the ball 51 yards, but the Patriots were able to return the ball 24 yards to start at their own 33-yard line. An incomplete pass on first down was followed with a three-yard pass to Patterson on second down. On 3rd-and-7, New England failed to convert on an incomplete pass, but Xavien Howard as called for illegal contact and the Patriots kept the ball. After White gained on yard up the middle, Brady found White for three yards. On 3rd-and-6, busted coverage left Patterson wide open and Brady found him on the 55-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
Dolphins fourth possession. Tannehill looked deep on first down for Kenyan Drake, with the Patriots called for defensive pass interference. On the next play, Tannehill scrambled to his right, then tried to connect with Gore cutting across the field but was badly behind him and was luck it was not intercepted On second down, Gore picked up two yards. Tannehill was hit as he tried to go deep on the 3rd-and-8 play, overthrowing Kenny Stills on the attempt. Haack came in for his fourth punt in four Miami possessions.
Patriots fourth possession. On first down, Brady found Gronkowski for nine yards. Then Michel picked up five yards and then 13 yards. Three penalties on the Patriots, however, backed them up to 1st an 20 at their own 27, with the tripping penalty enforced and two holding called declined. Brady was then incomplete looking for Patterson, followed by White gaining five yards. Brady found Dorsett for 13 yards before looking like they were going to go for it on 4th-and-2, but Bobby McCain sustained what appeared to be a groin injury and the Patriots changed their mind and punted.
Dolphins fifth possession. With a new center, after Daniel Kilgore sustained an arm injury, Tannehill could not handle the shotgun snap from Travis Swanson, and the Patriots recovered the fumble.
Patriots fifth possession. White ran the ball up the middle, cutting back for a 22-yard touchdown run.
Dolphins sixth possession. Tannehill threw incomplete on first down, then an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on Tunsil. Tunsil pushed a defender off of Tannehill after the play, and Miami lost 15 yards because of it, despite the league clearly wanting to protect quarterbacks. Drake then lost two yards, Tannehill found Jakeem Grant for nine yards, and the Dolphins punted.
Patriots sixth possession. The Patriots were set up with the ball at their own 15-yard line and the opportunity to sustain a drive, score, and then get the ball to start the second half. They were not going to waste it. An incomplete pass, followed by a three-yard gain from Michel, and a White catch-and-run for nine yards burned a minute off the clock and gave Brady a new set of downs. Michel then picked up 23 yards on a run, then three more on the first down from midfield. After a four-yard loss on a screen pass that was covered well by Vincent Taylor and Charles Harris, Brady connected on a 13-yard pass to Dorsett. Michel gained three yards to take the clock to the two-minute warning. An incomplete pass to Gronkowski set up 3rd-and-7, with Brady finding Gronkowski for 14 yards. Michel then picked up three yards, followed by an incomplete pass from Brady, but an offside penalty on Charles Harris was called. Michel then picked up one yard, followed by three yards, then an incomplete pass to White. Brady then found Dorsett in the end zone on a flipping catch, extending the lead.
Dolphins seventh possession. The Dolphins came out appearing to look like they wanted to take a shot with the 18 seconds remaining, with an incomplete pass from Tannehill toward Drake on the first play. Tannehill then found Mike Gesicki on second down for nine yards, then a run from Drake for 13 yards killed the clock.
The Patriots get the ball to start the second half.
Patriots seventh possession. Michel picked up two yards to start the half, but the Brady was incomplete on two deep passes and the Patriots had to punt.
Dolphins eighth possession. Tannehill was incomplete on a pass attempt to Gesicki, with Ja’Wuan James called for holding on the play. On the second attempt at a first down play, Gore picked up six yards, then Wilson carried for two yards. Tannehill was sacked on third down, leading to a Miami punt.
Patriots eighth possession. The drive appeared to start with a 39-yard screen pass from Brady to White, but a holding penalty backed up the Patriots. After Michel gained no yards, Tannehill found White for nine yards. Brady then connected with Gronkowski for nine more yards. Michel picked up seven yards before a Brady pass to Dorsett picked up 20 yards. White picked up two yards, then four yards, before Brady, as he was getting hit by Robert Quinn, somehow floated a ball into the end zone that white caught for the touchdown.
Dolphins ninth possession. Tannehill found Amendola on a dump off, then Amendola was able to stretch it into an 18-yard gain. After an incomplete pass, an overthrow targeting Mike Gesicki, Tannehill found Wilson for 13 yards. Tannehill looked toward Wilson deep down the field on the next play, only to underthrow the pass and have it intercepted.
Patriots ninth possession. The onslaught from the Patriots continued, with Michel picking up nine yards, then losing two, before a Brady 19-yard pass to Gordon. After a short pass lost four yards, Brady found White for eight yards. Brady was off target on a pass for Chris Hogan, but Fitzpatrick was called for pass interference and instead of an upcoming punt, New England received a firs down. Michel then picked up two yards, followed by 11 yards from Patterson, and three more yards from Michel, topping 100 yards for the first time in his career.
Patriots ninth possession (continued). New England saw a 16 yard pass from Brady to White to start the fourth period, then Michel gain no yards before he ran 10 yards for the touchdown.
Dolphins tenth possession. The Dolphins continued being inept the next possession, picking up one yard on a pass to Wilson, then one yard on a Gore run followed by a Tannehill sack. Miami punted after the three-and-out.
Patriots tenth possession. Brady found Hogan for 25 yards to start the drive, then Kenjon Barner lost four yards. Brady looked deep on the next play, with Fitzpatrick coming away with the interception.
Dolphins 11th possession. Miami signaled surrender on the next possession, bringing in Brock Osweiler at quarterback. Gore picked up two yards then five yards on the first two plays on the drive, then Osweiler found him for 10 yards. Gore then picked up one yard. Osweiler was incomplete next before picking up seven yards on a scramble. He then found Stills for 11 yards before Kalen Ballage picked up his first three yards as a professional. Osweiler then found Grant for eight yards before another 14-yard gain from Gore. Gore added another five yards, then three yards, before being on the receiving end of a Osweiler six-yard touchdown pass.
Patriots 11th possession. Brian Hoyer entered the game for Brady, simply looking to kill the clock. After a Barner 11 yard run, Hoyer simply kneeled three times to end the game.
Final. Patriots 38-7.