Wow!

The Dolphins sure didn't look like a team on the verge of being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs when they faced New England on Sunday. On the contrary. Their defense turned in another spectacular effort, and the result was a convincing 21-0 victory over the New England Patriots.

The Dolphins pressured Tom Brady all afternoon while handing the Patriots their first shutout loss since the 2003 season opener.

New England didn't really come that close to scoring. The Patriots drove inside the Dolphins 40-yard on two different occasions but never got beyond the 33-yard line.

On one occasion, the drive ended after a false start on fourth-and-5 from the 37-yard line convinced Coach Bill Belichick to put instead of going for the first down. On the other, safety Yeremiah Bell sacked Brady and forced a fumble that he himself recovered.

The Dolphins didn't do that much damage offensively, choosing to play it close to the vest all afternoon because of the way the defense was dominating.

But the Dolphins did manage a couple of touchdowns, on a 32-yard pass from Joey Harrington to Marty Booker (who had a big day) and the other on a 2-yard run by Sammy Morris.

Morris had a 44-yard run late in the game that put the Dophins at the 5-yard line, but the Dolphins chose to run out the clock with under two minutes left.

Everybody on defense contributed to the big victory. Bell led the team in tackles, in addition to his sack; Matt Roth had a couple of sacks; Jason Taylor had a sack and was a big factor in pressuring Brady; Vonnie Holliday and Kevin Carter also were factors; Zach Thomas was active again; and the secondary had a very good afternoon.

Collectively, the Dolphins held New England to 189 total yards.

It also helped that punter Donnie Jones had a great day, with three of his punts being downed inside the New England 5-yard line.

Offensively, the big story was Booker, who topped 100 yards receiving and scored a two-point conversion on top of that.

It might not have been shocking that the Dolphins would beat New England because they've played the Pats tough in recent years, but no one could have predicted a spanking of that magnitude.

It's just a shame it came too late to make much of a difference in terms of the playoffs.

The Dolphins staved off elimination with the victory, but still havve practically no shot at making the postseason.

For one day at least, though, the Dolphins sure looked like a playoff team. And a good one at that.


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