Dolphins | Grades

Armando Salguero grades the Miami Dolphins against the New England Patriots


A Remember when I told you Ryan Tannehill would ball in December? He’s thrown for 843 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions in three games and the Dolphins are 3-0 in the month. And this outing against New England was his finest game yet, authoring a late go-ahead score, avoiding the turnover and outdueling Tom Brady. All great, but he’s still got to get that deep pass to Mike Wallace solved.

Receivers/tight ends

B+ Mike Wallace turned a routine slant into 39-yard score that showcased his speed. Rishard Matthews and Brian Hartline did fine work against New England’s best cornerback Aqib Talib. Interestingly, the Patriots worked hard to eliminate Charles Clay from the Miami arsenal and they succeed. Clay had only one reception for 6 yards. But that catch came on fourth down and extended Miami’s game-winning drive. Big.

Running backs

C Lamar Miller sat out the fourth quarter last week because of a concussion and Daniel Thomas went for over 100 yards. But Miller was returned to his starting role and was asked to carry most of the load of the running game. In Miami terms, that means only 15 carries. Neither player was particularly good in pass protection. Not enough running plays. Note to Ryan Tannehill: Where was the keep on the read option?

Offensive line

C+ Well, they gave up four sacks (although Miami’s pass protection from running backs was not good). Sam Brenner got the starting nod over Nate Garner at left guard. John Jerry gave up a sack. Bryant McKinnie gave up a sack. The Dolphins rushed for only 3.9 yards per carry, but there is no doubt the linemen wish they could run the ball more.

Defensive line

C+ Paul Soliai left the game with an ankle injury in the first half and never returned. That hurt because he’s Miami’s best interior run stuffer. The Patriots showed a lot of patience and often got to the edge against Miami’s defensive ends and outside backers. The Patriots used a quick passing game to avoid pressure but on one play they tried to go deep, Cameron Wake collected Miami’s only sack of the game.


C+ Only two tackles, Dannell Ellerbe? You did have a nice defense of a Patriots tight end in the end zone. But two tackles? Phillip Wheeler had three tackles. But he was part of a good plan that limited Shane Vereen to three catches for 8 yards.


B+ Nolan Carroll and Brent Grimes both left the game with injuries. And that forced Will Davis and Michael Thomas to get more playing time than anyone expected or, frankly, wanted. While Davis did get picked on — giving up consecutive completions on a TD drive — he was fine on the final drive. The Pats instead picked on Thomas, who responded with a pass defensed and an interception. Jimmy Wilson also did well on the final drive, but his tackle attempt earlier in the game was poor.

Special teams

C- Brandon “flip the” Fields shanked one punt attempt. It went 47 yards. Amazing this guy. The Dolphins did botch a field-goal attempt when long snapper John Denney snapped it to Fields while he was not looking.


B+ Joe Philbin used his timeouts late in the game to give his defense rest between plays on New England’s onslaught final drive and that also allowed the Dolphins to see the Patriots’ formation and plan accordingly. Miami also eliminated Vereen from the Patriots already diminished offense.


A Dolphins ended a seven-game skid against New England.

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