It was once again a tale of two halves for the New England Patriots, but unlike last week in New Jersey, the Pats saved their best for later.
The Patriots picked up with the Dolphins right where they left off against the Jets, as Tom Brady threw a pick on the team’s opening drive. But the Pats shaped up in the second half, beating the Dolphins, 27-17. Here are three things that stood out in the AFC East battle:
Give a quarter, take a quarter
Third quarters have been terrible for the Patriots this season. Heading into Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, the Patriots had only scored a total of nine points in the third quarter, while giving up 44 points. That all changed for the better on Sunday. After a missed Dolphins field goal, the Pats marched down the field to score their first touchdown of the game. New England scored 17 points total in the third – including its first two third quarter touchdowns of the season – and gave up zero points. That’s a far cry from last week’s horrific display. Up until that first touchdown in the third, the Patriots hadn't scored a TD in four straight quarters (plus overtime) and in 16 offensive possessions.
It’s rare that a game goes by without the injury bug biting the Patriots. Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola – while not very productive on Sunday – are getting healthier, but other key members are going down. The most significant injury Sunday was the loss of offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, who left the game with a serious leg injury in the second quarter. Vollmer had an air cast put on his leg after it was rolled up on during a run play, and if the scream he let out when it happened is any indication, there’s little reason to be optimistic. Cornerback Kyle Arrington also left the game with a groin injury, and that could prove costly to a Pats secondary already banged up. Brady’s hand looked like it may have swelled up on the field, but he said after the game that he felt fine.
Late to the Party
For reasons unknown, Stevan Ridley did not see a snap in the first quarter, as LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden took the carries. Finally in the second quarter, Bill Belichick unleashed Ridley for the first time. Ridley was instrumental in the team’s second-half success, and finished the game with 79 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Ridley should see more playing time as the season progresses. Cornerback Logan Ryan didn’t touch the field until the second half. He finished with five tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, and a pass defended. That’s one way to earn more time.