Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New England 38, Miami 24

Odds and ends, while contemplating New England's second consecutive 38-24 season opening win...

  • I'll confess myself shocked to look at the box score this morning and discover that Miami had the ball for three minutes longer than New England, and ran two more plays. It felt, watching it, as if the Dolphins defense could not get off the field, and that the Patriots just had the ball all night. I commented during the third quarter, or early in the fourth, that "the Patriots have got to be absolutely dominating the time of possession in this game." Obviously, that's not exactly what happened, at least by the final numbers.
  • Here's why I was right (at the time) and wrong overall.
    1. By the time we got to that point in the game, I'd forgotten that the Dolphins had the ball first, and had over 7 minutes of possession time and 12 plays before New England ever touched it.
    2. The Dolphins had the ball for the last 2:32. So Miami had the ball first and last, with about 10 minutes of possession total.
    3. The Patriots had four 4th quarter drives. Two were three and out. One took only one play. They averaged over 11 yards per play in the 4th quarter. It's tough to consume a lot of clock when you're moving the ball that quickly - the field is only 100 yards long.
    Between Miami's first and last drives, New England had the ball for about 28 1/2 minutes to the Dolphins' 22, and ran 72 plays to the Dolphins' 54.
  • The phony-baloney interceptionless streak ended. Not that the streak itself wasn't incredibly impressive - what was "phony-baloney" about it was that it was still officially continuing, despite his throwing an absolutely awful killer pick that played a huge part in their losing a playoff game last year. So now he can start a new one.
  • The first Miami drive was ... concerning. The defense allowed them to march right down the field and put the ball in the end zone.
  • Likewise, for Chad Henne to put the ball up 49 times and get picked only once, on the last play of the game, for him to get sacked just four times and throw for 416 yards, is not what you're looking for from the defense.
  • On the very significant plus side for the defense, however, is this: 2-of-14. The Dolphins converted only two of 14 third downs for first downs. New England's inability to get off the field on third downs last year was its Achilles heel. Of course, as gaudy as that 14% conversion rate is, it looks a little tarnished when you consider that Miami was also 4-of-5 on 4th downs, for a drive-extension conversion rate of 6-of-19, or about 32%. Still a big improvement over last year's typical effort.
  • About the offense, there's very little to say. They've got an all-time great quarterback, at pretty much the peak of his abilities, with good protection and excellent tools to work with. I think they're likelier than not to lead the NFL in scoring this year, and I expect them to top the 38 they put up last night on more than one occasion...

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