Before the season, many prognosticators felt this could be the year that the Miami Dolphins challenged the New England Patriots in the AFC East. After all, the Dolphins were coming off back-to-back 8-8 seasons, Ryan Tannehill was progressing nicely as a pro, and both sides of the ball – especially the defense – got better via agency.
In short, there was a lot to like about Miami.
Well, so much for that theory. The Dolphins were embarrassed 36-7 at Gillette Stadium on Thursday. They were outscored 19-0 to begin the game and 17-0 to end it, falling to 3-4 while the Pats improved to 7-0.
Was New England extra motivated this week to play the Dolphins, especially given all the preseason chatter about their rise and resurgence?
“No, man, that’s every week,” Patriots safety Patrick Chung said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I feel like everybody’s out to get us, so whoever it is, let’s just go out here and play and try to get that win. It’s going to be like that every week for every opponent.”
The Patriots limited the Dolphins to 270 total yards, forced two turnovers and held them to a paltry 2-of-11 on third down. The New England defense was supposed to be down this season, relatively speaking, but that unit has really stepped up, allowing an average of just 16 points per game in its last five games.
“Bill has a plan,” Chung said, referring to Belichick. “Bill always has a plan. We have a lot of good players. They’re young and they just going to keep getting better. That’s really on us to keep this going. (It’s) up to us to try to play as consistent as possible. We got good players, but Bill has trust you. He puts you in certain situations and you got to go out there and execute.”
Tom Brady knows a thing or two about that. After throwing for 355 yards and accounting for three touchdowns (two pass, one rush) against the Jets last week, Brady threw for 356 yards and four touchdowns this week. He is on pace for 5,000+ yards, 49 touchdowns and two interceptions – in his age-38 season. Those are video game numbers.
“Sounds awesome to me,” said Chung, chuckling. “I hope he gets every single one of those. He’s good, man. That’s Tom. Everybody knows Tom, man. He’s going to ball out.”
But how is this possible? Peyton Manning can barely throw a football these days. There has to be a decline at some point, but there’s been no decline for Brady. If anything, there’s been a spike in production.
“Hey, I don’t know how he’s been doing it for so long,” Chung said. “It’s crazy.”
The Patriots play two of their next three games at home before traveling to Denver to take on the Broncos (6-0) on Nov. 29. New England next plays at home against Washington (3-4) on Nov. 8.