Monday, November 14, 2005

Patriots Dolphins game can be summed up with three plays

The first two were made by Patriots players, one on offense and the other on defense. The third wasn't made by a Miami player.

The first was the knock down by Asante Samuel (nickname: Marshmallow) against a much bigger running back named Ricky Williams. Samuel stepped up inside, ducked down to get leverage and then came right back up knocking Ricky up and over onto his butt. That was the moment I think a lot of Patriots fans have been looking for. Our defense the past few years has been tough hitting. They made the other team pay the price for playing against them. It was a wonder if their opponents would win next week, given the pounding they had faced going up against the Pats D.

The second came near the end. Dwight made a huge catch with 2:19 remaining, taking the ball away from Reggie Howard and running with it.

"Even with the coverage [no safety help] I was there," Howard lamented. "I had the ball. He just took the ball out of my hands and made a great play. I got nobody to blame but myself. I had the ball in my hands and he just reached back and made a good play and got it out of my hands. I was in position. I should've made the play. It would have been a great day if I could've held on to the ball."

The third play that defined the game was the last play of the game. Chris Chambers should have caught that ball. Assuming the Dolphins played for the tie at home, the game would have gone into overtime. It was Chamber's third blown catch (of note) for the day.

How do these three plays define yesterday's game? The first shows what the depleted secondary (did you know the Pats have played 6 different players in the past seven games at safety?) was able to do against the Miami offense. They were playing with heart and with guts and not much more. They weren't about to let a Miami offense that just isn't as good as they used to be (like Ricky) run over them. When they got a chance to do something, they did it.

The second play defined what the offense was doing. They were just trying to make do without their best players. With Givens, Graham, Dillon, etc... out, they were just sending out what they could when they could. Heath Evans had the game of his life (did you know he only had 108 yards total career before yesterday?). Tom Brady played a great game despite the interceptions. Tim Dwight makes a great play ripping the ball away. But Tim's inexperience showed up when he turned back into Howard, trying to knock him down, rather than just trying to outrun him to his left to get a few more yards.

The third play defines the Miami play. They had their chances. They could have won this game, despite all that the Patriots were trying to do. They just couldn't do it. They didn't make the plays when they needed to. I think Howard's lament (above) says it all. "I got nobody to blame but myself. I had the ball in my hands and he just reached back and made a good play and got it out of my hands."

Samuel celebrates as Chris Chambers looks stunned over dropping the last pass. Photo from Boston Globe, hosted here.

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