This week, the Patriots returned to Foxboro after a solid road trip that included wins over Denver and Oakland. New England finished off a perfect November against the reeling Miami Dolphins, who were without starting quarterback Jay Cutler due to injury.
The week leading up to the Miami game was capped by news that Tom Brady did not practice due to an Achilles injury and the announcements that Marcus Cannon and David Andrews were ruled out for Sunday’s game.
Brady did play, and New England’s offense did not miss a beat. They set the tone early with a combo of Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, and Rob Gronkowski.
The game plan was, as always, built around mismatches and one-on-one matchups, and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels knew the Dolphins had no answer for Gronkowski on defense. McDaniels also had Tom Brady drop back further on his throws as the Patriots were again without center David Andrews and right tackle Marcus Cannon. Center Ted Karras was excellent against Oakland the previous week, but he had trouble against Miami’s superior pass rush.
Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was active in his pursuit of Tom Brady, and nearly injured Patriots running back Dion Lewis after tossing him down by the facemask. The actual injuries were much worse for New England as defensive end Trey Flowers, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Trevor Reilly, right tackle LaAdrian Waddle and special teamer Nate Ebner all left the game at one point due to injury.
Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, Nate Ebner, Trevor Reilly, LaAdrian Waddle all leave today's game with injuries. Not good
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) November 26, 2017
Rex Burkhead was unleashed again this week as a receiver and a running back. He ran for a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter and caught a pass for a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter, after setting up the Patriots in the red zone with a 22-yard rush that utilized his power and speed.
The Tom Brady to Rex Burkhead touchdown.
Brady has 2 in the first half.https://t.co/HhcY5hyTYA
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) November 26, 2017
The Dolphins offense was unable to control the game with backup quarterback Matt Moore, though it awakened in the third quarter to cut New England’s lead to 28-17, and were unable to capitalize after.
The defense was far from perfect as a result of the loss of Van Noy and Flowers, but it was able to come up with turnovers when it mattered.
In the third quarter, Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain was ejected after throwing a punch at Danny Amendola. This was the first of two fights in Sunday’s slate; former Patriots cornerback Aquib Talib and Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree exchanged blows after Crabtree pushed Talib into a cameraman.
Rob Gronkowski passed Randy Moss in franchise history for most multi-touchdown games, and with Tom Brady’s 26th touchdown pass, he set the record for most touchdowns in an age 40 season, passing Warren Moon and Brett Favre’s 25.
The Patriots will travel to Buffalo December 3rd to take on the Bills, fresh off their 16-10 victory in Kansas City over the Chiefs. With today’s win, the Pats are 9-2, which means they’ll have a winning record for the 17th straight season.