Corey Dillon was in for one play, before being sidelined with a leg injury. This was the first game in at least five seasons that Dillon started a game and didn't carry the ball. Already nursing a leg injury Dillon looked pained as he stretched on the sideline. With the strong running display exhibited by newcomer Heath Evans, the coaching staff decided to keep Dillon on the bench, although his return was still questionable. The Patriots need a healthy Dillon down the season stretch. Evans managed to turn in the second-best rushing performance by a Patriot runner this season (17 carries for 84 yards), so Dillon may be able to get some of that rest he desperately needs.
Tedy Bruschi's blitz, leap and flip in the first quarter when the Dolphins were backed up at the goal line drew oos and ahhs from the audience as he tumbled to the turf post somersault. The amazing part of Bruschi's play wasn't the leap, and flip -- courtesy of a Dolphins running back - it was his determination to still get to Frerotte who amazingly hadn't thrown the ball yet as Bruschi swiped at the QB's feet. Bruschi played well in his third game back, batting down two passes, one at the goal line to save a sure Dolphins TD. Bruschi's other pass defensed prevented what surely would have been a Michael Stone interception as the Patriots safety had position on the Dolphins receiver.
Tight end Ben Watson turned in a two-touchdown performance on three catches, making his TD to reception ratio for the game a lofty 67%. Watson is the first Patriot to achieve a multiple touchdown receiving performance since David Givens accomplished the feat on Halloween night against the Steelers October 31, 2004. He is also the first tight end to do so since Daniel Graham managed a two-touchdown performance September 19, 2004 against the Cardinals.
Watson had been relatively quiet so far this season, making an occasional appearance in crucial situations. This game vs Miami ties the most receptions in a single game Watson has managed in his short career so far. He caught 3 passes for 36 yards last week in the Patriots' loss to the Colts. Watson finished the Dolphins game with 3 catches for 37 yards and 2 scores.
Cornerback Hank Poteat, signed by the Patriots just a few weeks ago (Oct. 19, 2005), made his second pair of regular season tackles in a Patriots uniform against the Dolphins. Poteat's biggest tackle, was his last one, which came with 51 seconds left in the game and the Dolphins driving on a third-and-goal from the Patriots 5 yard line. Poteat moved up to stop Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown for a 5-yard loss in the flats, setting up a crucial do or die play for the Dolphins.
Poteat has seen limited action for the Patriots in 2005, playing against Buffalo and Indianapolis, having netted only 2 tackles against the Bills as his only regular season stats.
Wide receiver Troy Brown made his first appearance of the year on defense against the Dolphins. A hobbled Randall Gay put added pressure on the Patriots secondary to perform now that Duane Starks is on injured reserve and done for the season. Brown recorded no tackles on defense, but managed to haul in three Tom Brady passes for 36 yards on offense, and return one punt for two yards on special teams.
Other obvious big plays
Tim Dwight - nice run and catch and run again. The speedy little receiver continues his trend of showing up just about every other game and making a big play. Dwight has made big plays in four games this season catching passes of 24, 30, 49 and 59 yards. The Miami game was he best outing yet as a Patriot, given his three grabs for 70 yards.
Heath Evans - Good way to start the game. Evans first carry against his former team was a 21-yard rumble straight up the center of the field. Evans wasn't hit till he got to the second wave of defenders, and he carried his would-be tacklers an additional 4-5 yards after contact. If he can continue to make big plays like that, the team will have the luxury of being able to sit their normal starting backs longer so they can heal.
Ellis Hobbs' jump ball guarding Chris Chambers in the endzone as the Dolphins were trying to score to tie the game. Hobbs played the route perfectly, jumping at the proper moment to bat the ball away from Chambers who was in the corner of the endzone on a fade pattern. Hobbs had solid coverage on Chambers as the Dolphins tried the exact same thing one play later. Frerotte's pass wasn't even close on the second attempt. Overall, Hobbs had an outstanding day for his first start. He had an interception and a fumble recovery (actually two, but recovering his own doesn't really count).
The Patriots have managed to win five of the last six games against the Dolphins, with their last loss a 28-29 implosion December 20, 2004 in Miami. The overall mark between these two rivals moves to 32-45 in favor of the Dolphins. The teams meet again January 1, 2006 for the final regular season game of the season.
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