Brace yourselves, New England Patriots fans. You might not enjoy reading this.
The Miami Dolphins stifled the Patriots’ seemingly unstoppable offense Monday night at Hard Rock Stadium, holding Tom Brady and Co. to just 248 net yards in a 27-20 victory. New England was a horrific 0-for-11 on third down conversions, as Miami intercepted Brady twice and appeared to have an answer for every Patriots offensive strategy.
In fact, “appeared” might not be a strong enough word. After the game, Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh insisted his defense had New England pretty much figured out on offense.
“They do a great job and they run the same offense,” Suh said, via the Miami Herald. “Once you pick up on that and you don?t make a lot of mistakes, it’s pretty simple to stop it.”
We know plenty of NFL defensive coordinators who would disagree with Suh. We also should note the Patriots’ offense is much less dynamic without suspended tight end Rob Gronkowski — just ask the Dolphins themselves, who allowed 35 points to New England two weeks ago with Gronk on the field.
But in the context of this game alone, Suh has a point. Miami had a straightforward game plan — play man coverage on New England’s receivers and apply heavy pressure on Brady — that was surprisingly effective. The Dolphins’ defensive backs, notably cornerback Xavien Howard, blanketed the Patriots’ wideouts, denying them a single catch until the third quarter.
That allowed Suh and the defensive line to wreak havoc, recording six QB hits on Brady, sacking him twice.
“Our focus every single game is to hit the quarterback as hard as we can and make them uncomfortable,” Suh said, via WEEI.com. “I think we did a pretty good job of it, (and) I think we could have done more.
” … We wanted to make sure we were physical, played to the whistle and imposed our will.”
The Patriots probably can use Suh’s comments as bulletin board material entering a crucial Week 15 showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels should get a lot more creative with Gronk back in the fold. But for one night, at least, New England’s high-flying offense looked remarkably pedestrian.