Posted by Josh Katzowitz
Tom Brady was efficient but not electric Monday night. Randy Moss didn’t make a catch. New England’s running game was adequate. And the Patriots were outgained 412-272.
Sure Miami’s offense in the second half was terrible, but how in the hell did New England pull out the 41-14 victory when the team was good but not great?
Easy: special teams.
Going into the second half behind 7-6, New England responded immediately as Brandon Tate scorched the Dolphins with a 103-yard kick return, his second special teams score of the season. Then, it was Patrick Chung’s turn. He blocked a punt and then blocked a field goal (not to mention the pick-6 he had against Miami QB Chad Henne).
For the Patriots, special teams were the way to break open a game that was shaping up to be a close one.
“We’ve talked a lot about the second half this week,” Brady said in his postgame news conference. “That’s a great way to start it. You’re getting hyped and throwing the ball around and ready to start, and then you see Brandon Tate run by and you take a seat on the bench. I’ll take it every time.”
Said Bill Belichick in his meeting with the media: “We got a great block from Sammy Morris, Tate turned it on and he split it. Other than the one vs. Cincinnati, Brandon has been close several times this year. He didn’t need much room. Those guys did a great job of blocking, and Tate hit it.”
Even more impressive, though, was Chung. It’s only his second year in the league, and in 19 career games coming into tonight, he had accumulated two INTs and 41 tackles. Safe to say that tonight was the highlight of his career.
“Great performance,” Brady said during an ESPN interview. “He’s been ready to break out. He’s worked his butt off all of season. He really showed tonight what he’s capable of. We need more of it. It’s the fourth week of the year, and we have a lot more football to go.”
Naturally, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano wasn’t nearly as impressed with his team.
“What we put out there on film on special teams, it was a mess,” he said. “It’s embarrassing and these fans deserve better than that.”
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