After a barren first half, there were plenty of plays to choose from in the second half that came to define this game. Had the result gone Miami’s way, the sequence at the end of the first half would have certainly been included in all of its awfulness.
But the Pats came out guns blazing in the second half, and the narrative of the game shifted from what was shaping up to be another down-to-the-wire divisional matchup.
While Brady’s 17-yard scramble was a key moment in the game, it’s already been GIF’d here so we’ll stick to some lesser-shown plays that stood out. But Brady’s run really sparked the team in this one and deserves a lot of credit.
We begin with the first play of the second half. Gronk had no catches in the first half? Well here he is off of play action going for 34 yards, putting him over 1,000 for the season. This play was an immediate message that the Pats weren’t messing around anymore. They kept this momentum going for the rest of the game.
Another thing that changed in the second half was Belichick listening to the pleas on Twitter (I think) and putting Jonas Gray back in the game. Gray finished the game with 11 carries for 62 yards and this was his longest, a gain of 14. Gray just seems to have a strength and burst about him that seems to counter some of the Pats’ OL struggles in the run game. Let’s hope he continues to get more carries, he’s done nothing but play well
Finally, instead of one GIF you get three! All of these play demonstrate the dominance of the Patriots’ front seven, led by the return of Chandler Jones. The Pats can blitz or drop so many guys, all of whom cause different kinds of problems for opposing blockers.
Here the Pats have just one DT and the Dolphins try to run. Chandler Jones shows total dominance over Pouncey, pushing him into the backfield and making the tackle. This pass rush package could be deadly in the playoffs, especially if they can stop the run like this.
This time Chandler has a pure edge rush, getting the sack and forcing the fumble. Chandler was so good in this game I’m left wondering if he even really was hurt, or were they just saving him to unleash him now?
Finally comes a “meet at the quarterback” sack and this one shows what this defense is capable of in terms of disguise. Chandler drops into coverage and Collins blitzes, while Ninkovich wins cleanly off the edge. This demonstrates both winning pass rush via scheme and via pure physicality. All of this is vital to the Patriots’ Super Bowl chances.