Patriots’ Decision to Stick to Ground Game Pays Dividends in Rout of Dolphins

Patriots' Decision to Stick to Ground Game Pays Dividends in Rout of Dolphins MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — When faced with adversity in the last season-plus, particularly on the road, the Patriots’ offense has too often put too much strain on the passing game.

That wasn’t the case Monday during their 41-14 victory against the Dolphins. New England’s two most important offensive possessions were run-heavy, and they turned into a field goal and a touchdown.

The Patriots’ third series started at their 40-yard line after Rob Ninkovich‘s first interception, and they trailed 7-0. After the first drive resulted in a three-and-out and the second-possession was halted due to a Matt Light holding penalty, the Patriots could have been a little frustrated, particularly in a loud environment and when the momentum was riding with the Dolphins.

But the Patriots ran the ball on 10 of their 14 offensive plays for 37 yards, including a stretch of seven consecutive runs, and they wound up with a field goal that cut the margin to 7-3. It leveled the game a little bit, and it was also significant for the defense, which was worn down after the Pats’ two short possessions prior to that.

“Anytime the defense is off the field, that just gives our offense more time to orchestrate what they’ve got to do and give us a chance on the sideline to make adjustments and figure out what we’ve got to do on the next series,” Patriots linebacker Tully Banta-Cain said.

Then, in the third quarter after the Dolphins trimmed New England’s lead to 20-14, the Patriots kept it on the ground for seven of their 12 plays, and they gained 30 rushing yards. Plus, each of the five passing plays were on short, possession-type throws, and the drive was capped off with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Danny Woodhead.

“The O-line did a great job,” Woodhead said. “Everyone did a great job. If you get everyone on the same page and doing their job, it makes things a whole lot easier for the runner, whether it be Sammy [Morris] or [BenJarvus Green-Ellis] or myself. Whoever is in there, it makes it a lot easier for when everyone is on the same page.”

Green-Ellis led the Patriots with 76 rushing yards on 16 carries and a scored touchdown.

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