I think the headline sums up things quite well after the New England Patriots stayed the course of a perfect season by demolishing the Miami Dolphins 36-7, as Tom Brady had another nearly flawless executed game while Ryan Tannehill couldn’t wait to get off the field.
The Patriots of 2015 are special, and although their strength of schedule isn’t impressive, it’s hard to argue about them being the best team in the NFL, something you wouldn’t say about them during last year’s Super Bowl run. The same can be said of Tom Brady. The second oldest starting quarterback in the league, and all of a sudden he’s playing like it’s 2007 all over again. He’s making the most of a healthy receivers core, looking more mobile than ever and has a great defense to back him up this time.
The Dolphins headed into the game with the momentum of Dan Campbell leading them to two straight wins. So what if it was against the Jaguars and the Texans? At that point, the Dolphins needed any encouragement they could get. But as Adam Stites and Alex Reimer eloquently wrote, the Patriots are experts at finding teams heading into games against them with momentum and then choking the life and passion out of those winning streaks.
Brady threw four touchdown passes and 356 yards as the Patriots stick to the plan of demolishing teams through the air, without doing too much on the ground, although LeGarrette Blount was useful with 72 yards. Julian Edelman caught two touchdown passes, Rob Gronkowski added another one to his tally and the elusive Dion Lewis, back after missing a game, added another one while going for 93 yards on six receptions.
The two most impressive things was how meaningless the Dolphins pass rush was, and the Patriots defense, reducing Ryan Tannehill into a meaningless comma, and even more so with a blossoming running game. The Patriots are giving up only 19 points per game this season (ninth in the league) and have one of the best pass rushers in the conference in Chandler Jones, picking up a couple of sacks out of a five total that Tannehill went down. Intercepted twice, Tannehill finished with just a 64.6 passer rating. But the Patriots suffocating the Dolphins running game, keeping them at 15 yards on 13 carries, was probably their greatest defensive achievement in the performance.
Brady did get sacked a couple of times, but considering where he was during certain stretches in the last two seasons, he’s looking close to untouchable. And even when does get hit, it doesn’t fluster him in the way that it used to. He was 23-of-32 passes for 317 yards and 4 touchdowns when the Dolphins sent four or fewer pass rushers, which is the most the Dolphins have allowed this season under standard pressure. Brady didn’t throw bombs (most of the time) as the Patriots finished with 186 yards after the catch, twice the average the Dolphins allow this season.
The Patriots are now 7-0, the 5th defending Super Bowl champions to win their first seven games of the title defense. The only defending Super Bowl champion to start 7-0 and then repeat as champions was the 1998 Broncos, who started 13-0. They’re only the third team among the 7-0 starters in NFL history to average over 35 points while going on the winning streak. The previous two (Patriots 2007, Saints 2009) both reached the Super Bowl.