Another week of Zen status for me as I assessed this game and went about my business afterward without a care in the world.
The old me? For the second week in a row, massive amounts of angst and terror would’ve caused my loved ones to flee my home. Is it worth it? Not really.
When you get past people associating you with your team’s results, football means nothing in the overall scheme of life. It’s merely a diversion from what counts. At this stage I’m more concerned about helping our country overcome its corrupt government than worthless things like pass protection, the running game or if Byron Maxwell really does stink.
1. Tannehill Intercepted on Final Drive: Yes, the Dolphins remain completely capable of taking you from the depth of despair to the peak of hope and smashing you down on the rocks.
Down 21-0, the Dolphins defense began to impact Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. And then Kiko Alonso lowered the boom on Tom Brady’s fantastic understudy and changed the entire tenor of the game. Right there I muttered to myself: “They are going to come back and win this game.”
And so the Dolphins miraculously pulled to within a TD and when Steven Gostkowski missed a game-clinching field goal with a minute to play in the game you had to believe the football Gods were going to smile on Adam Gase and Co.
Headlines of triumph danced through our heads. Tannehill coolly marshalled the offense downfield with no timeouts in hand.
The final attempt at the end zone hung in the air and remained a 50-50 ball for a few seconds before the sting of the interception and the conclusion of the game. Stunned, we all waited and for an out-of-bounds call or a penalty. But the play ended clean and the Dolphins, as we predicted, skulked home to face the Cleveland Browns.
2. Down 21-0, Shotgun Snap Whizzes by Tannehill’s Head: The Patriots shugged off the Dolphins defense like it was nothing. And then you get into a situation, deep in Dolphins territory and this Football Follies stuff happens. Nothing can go right for this team. Ever. Three scores – two of them coming on third down passes – and normally I’d boil over like a pot with a lid on it. My reaction yesterday: Guffaws of laughter lasting three minutes.
3. Double Fumble: The Patriots fumble the ball with 5:58 to play in the second quarter. A rare turnover. So what do the Dolphins do? They give it right back on the next play when Jarvis Landry fumbled.
4. Tannehill Interception to End First Half: The Dolphins move the ball across the 50 with less than two minutes to play in the first half. A score here would help on the comeback front as the Patriots lead 24-0 and the Dolphins could theoretically score and receive the second half-kickoff. But no, Tannehill gets picked. To be fair, the line leaked and Tannehill blindly tossed one up.
5. Jay Ajayi Fumbles: Again, the Dolphins exhibit an ability to move the ball when Ajayi leaves the ball on the carpet. The Patriots score what amounts to the winning TD on the ensuing possession. Martellus Bennett completes a long catch and run – capped by an embarrassing stiff-arm pancake of Byron Maxwell.
PATRIOTS CULTURE ON DISPLAY
I’ll post two additional pieces today: The Optimist’s View and The Pessimist’s View.
But, really, the game represented New England’s football culture.
Tom Brady suspended for four games? No problem. They’re 2-0.
Jimmy Garoppolo looked so good, he’d eventually earn the right to refer to himself in the third person in the post-game press conference (“Jimmy thought the receivers played well today”).
The Patriots see the need for a QB and they address it by finding a young QB who looked pretty awesome and comfortable – more so than any other Dolphins replacement since Jay Fiedler.
And to top things off, Garoppolo gets hurt and in comes a rookie third-round pick in Jacoby Brissett who looked a little shaky, but produced enough scoring drives to hold off the charging Dolphins.
But get this: The Pats had Garoppolo in the wings and set to be Brady’s replacement and THEY SPENT A THIRD ROUND PICK ON BRISSETT.
Smart. Smart. Smart.
The Patriots have a secret sauce in how they draft, acquire free agents, make trades, recycle both players and draft picks and coach players up. This is why they DOMINATE the AFC East.
I shudder to say this, but I think Belichick’s Patriots have exerted more control over the AFC East in the past two decades than the Don Shula Dolphins of the 1970’s.