by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
A win after a bye is nice. A win against a division opponent? Even better.
As the euphoria of victory wears off, attention must be paid to the literal last line of defense. While Miami QB Chad Henne’s numbers from Sunday were only okay, the infamous Patriots Daily lap must go to the New England secondary.
This group had a few nice plays, including Patrick Chung’s sack in the first quarter. Viewed as a whole, though, the work of DBs Leigh Bodden, Darius Butler, Shawn Springs and the Brandons Meriweather and McGowan left much to be desired – and much to be needed going into next week’s contest at Indianapolis.
After all, if Greg Camarillo can get five catches for 71 yards, what can the Colts top-flight receivers do? Bodden and Butler gave a little too much cushion in their coverage (when not getting called for pass interference), allowing the Dolphins to convert nine of 16 third down attempts (52 percent).
There’s also something that the defense gets asked to do all the time, which I believe is called “tackling.” The defensive backs could use some work on this aspect. Meriweather somehow missed 6-foot-8, 270-pound tight end Joey Haynos on a short pass, allowing 15 extra yards. Springs and Bodden failed to get off blocks to stop the Dolphin rushing attack in the second quarter.
McGowan led the team in tackles with 11, but also committed what looked like the biggest mental error of the day. On third and goal from the one, Miami’s Ronnie Brown swept to his left. The Dolphins had gained one yard rushing the previous two plays and now looked to pass. With Tully Banta-Cain in his face, Brown shotputted the ball to Haynos, who was so wide open he may or may not have been rehearsing a one-man show at Foxwoods. Had McGowan even feinted coverage, Banta-Cain would have sacked Brown, forcing Miami to take the field goal.
Safety James Sanders deserves mention only for going offsides on a kickoff, adding to the already sizable danger of returner Ted Ginn. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski quelled the threat by booting the ball out of the end zone.
In all, a lackluster day for the defensive backs. Patriots secondary, PD asks – nay, demands – that you take a lap.
Email Chris Warner at firstname.lastname@example.org