PHOTO: Miami Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael (81) fumbles the ball near the ten-yard line under pressure from New England Patriots' Rosevelt Colvin (59) during the second quarter at Dolphins Stadium in Miami, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2005. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
- DOLPHINS: Report Cards
By Site Staff
PATRIOTS REPORT CARD VS. MIAMI DOLPHINS
PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus -- QB Tom Brady (21-of-36, 275 yards, 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions) posted his second-lowest passer rating of the season (77.9), threw multiple interceptions for the first time this year, was sacked twice and knocked down on several other occasions. Brady has had some terrible games in Miami in his career, but he redeemed himself this time on the two-play, game-winning drive in the fourth quarter as Tim Dwight's 59-yard catch-and-run set up a 17-yard TD throw to tight end Benjamin Watson. The Patriots were shorthanded here, minus starting receiver David Givens, tight end Dan Graham and both starting offensive tackles.
RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Newly signed fullback Heath Evans (17 carries for 84 yards) did most of his work in the first half (eight carries for 65 yards). But he did chip in a key third-down conversion in the third quarter (3 yards on a third-and-3) that helped set up Watson's first TD for a 12-7 lead. Backup Mike Cloud had no success, gaining 8 yards on seven carries. Four his attempts went for zero or negative yards.
PASS DEFENSE: C -- The best thing you can say about this area was that the Patriots made big plays when they needed them -- whether it was Tedy Bruschi's diving bat-away to save a touchdown, Rosevelt Colvin's forced fumble on tight end Randy McMichael or rookie Ellis Hobbs' tight defense on back-to-back fade patterns in the end zone on the Dolphins' final possession. Other than that, there were too many big gains and one inexcusable coverage breakdown (on Chris Chambers' fourth-quarter TD.) The Patriots gave up far too many yards (360), especially since Miami QB Gus Frerotte (25-of-47, 2 touchdowns, one interception) came in as the league's 29th-rated passer.
RUN DEFENSE: A-minus -- The Dolphins might have erred by giving too many carries to Ricky Williams (11 rushes for 13 yards, a 1.2-yard average) and not enough to rookie Ronnie Brown (14 carries, 64 yards, 4.6 average). Thanks to Williams' struggles, Miami averaged only 3.1 yards per attempt, well off its season average of 4.5 coming into the game. This was a big step forward for the Patriots run defense, which had allowed individual 100-yard rushers in three straight games and four of the last five. CB Asante Samuel knocked Williams off his feet with a highlight-reel hit in the third quarter.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-plus -- Another solid if unspectacular effort here. The coverage units continue to be very strong, holding Miami's Wes Welker, who came in as the league's No. 2 punt returner, to a 4.3-yard average, about 7 yards off his season mark. Welker did have a 46-yard kickoff return, but that came on a squib kick as time expired in the first half. The Patriots return game didn't generate much, but Adam Vinatieri was 3-for-3 on field goals, and punter Josh Miller posted excellent numbers in average (43.7) and net (41.5). He also dropped three of his six punts inside the 20.
COACHING: B -- For the second time in three games, the Patriots' maligned defense surrendered yards but not many points. That's improvement. The Patriots also played with much more energy than they had displayed in a 40-21 loss to the Colts in their previous game. And once again they displayed resourcefulness as injuries continue to wreak havoc with the depth chart.
DOLPHINS REPORT CARD VS. PATRIOTS
PASSING OFFENSE: B -- Despite all the pre-game public cries for backup Sage Rosenfels, QB Gus Frerotte strengthened his hold on a starting spot with a 360-yard passing outing. Frerotte would have enjoyed an even more outrageous total had Chris Chambers not dropped four passes, including a fourth-down throw in the end zone late in the game. WR Marty Booker (five catches, 102 yards) had his best outing since the season opener against Denver.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Ronnie Brown had a healthy 4.6-yard average but only logged 14 carries, while Ricky Williams got stonewalled with just 13 yards on 11 attempts. The Dolphins might run the football more as their season winds down, but the state of New England's decimated secondary arguably justifies the decision to have Frerotte pass 47 times.
PASS DEFENSE: D-plus -- The Dolphins intercepted Tom Brady twice in the second half but were largely ineffective otherwise against the Patriots quarterback, who was able to lead New England to its 21st fourth-quarter or overtime comeback since 2001. TE Ben Watson (two touchdowns) and WR Tim Dwight (thee catches, 70 yards) played significant roles when injuries pushed both backups into prominent positions. Miami had two sacks, but they resulted in a total net loss of just 1 yard.
RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus -- The Dolphins allowed themselves to get gashed by New England's fourth rushing option, as Heath Evans plowed for 84 yards and a two-point conversion after Corey Dillon (leg) joined Patrick Pass and Kevin Faulk on the Patriots sideline. Evans, who was released by the Dolphins just three weeks earlier, was far more successful than fellow backup Mike Cloud (seven rushes, 8 yards).
SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Olindo Mare missed a 31-yard field goal in the second quarter but did connect on a 36-yarder in the fourth. Wes Welker muffed one punt return and averaged just 4.3 yards on his three attempts, but Dwight (two attempts, minus-2 yards) was even less impressive in the same role for New England.
COACHING: C -- After the loss, Saban was far more upbeat about his team's performance against New England than following a 17-10 defeat against Atlanta the previous Sunday. But with losses in five of the past six games and an 0-6 mark when trailing after three quarters, Dolphins coaches haven't found a way to help their players finish strong. For the second consecutive game, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's unit was unable to produce a late fourth-quarter touchdown when it was sorely needed.
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