We’ve finally found Dan Campbell’s Kryptonite.
It’s the guy in the hooded sweatshirt.
Bill Belichick showed again why he’s the generation’s best coach in the Patriots’ 36-7 dissection of the Dolphins on Thursday night, Miami’s first loss with Campbell as coach.
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Want to run the football? They’ll commit enough bodies to stopping it that you’ll basically stop trying before halftime. (Miami finished with just 15 yards on 13 carries.)
Want to hurry Tom Brady? The ball will come out before Cameron Wake can even get out of his stance. (Wake did have one sack before leaving with an Achilles tendon injury; more on that later.)
Want to get the ball to Rishard Matthews? They’ll bait Ryan Tannehill into a costly interception.
(The first of two by Tannehill on the night.)
Want to get Lamar Miller going? We’ll have invisible defenders trip him up in the open field. (OK, that last one was a joke.)
“You can’t have mistakes [against New England], and if you do, you can’t have many of them,” Campbell said.
In the moments after the team’s third blowout loss in five games, Campbell told his team that he doesn’t believe the Dolphins are the team that showed up Thursday.
“Not one bit.”
But Campbell, for the first time, was overmatched. And perhaps even off his game.
How else to explain the Dolphins, down 15, punting on fourth-and-3 at their own 42?
Where was the fire and aggression that the Dolphins showed at the start of the last two games?
Not there Thursday. On the game’s opening drive, the Dolphins allowed the Patriots to gain 17 yards on third-and-16 — on a dump-off to running back Dion Lewis, no less.
That set the tone for the rest of the night.
Shortly thereafter, New England was in the end zone. Brady connected with a wide-open Rob Gronkowski across the middle. Reshad Jones was there for the tackle but took a bad angle, and that was that. Gronkowski was gone, 47 yards for a touchdown.
It scored for the Patriots, too.
Tannehill wasn’t ready for a snap from Mike Pouncey early in the second quarter, and it sailed into the end zone for a safety. The ball was supposed to be snapped on two, Campbell said; it came early.
Later in the half, Tannehill egregiously underthrew Matthews, making for a relatively easy interception for Logan Ryan. It led to a 52-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski to stretch the lead to 12-0.
And just before the half, Brady made it 19-0 when he easily found Lewis out of the backfield for 16 yards. It’s hard to say who blew the coverage because no one was within 10 yards of Lewis when he caught the ball.
Halftime did help the Dolphins regroup. Tannehill came out on fire, directing a seven-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by Miller.
The Dolphins would have been better off, long term, if the game just ended then. The Patriots would only add to their lead and at great cost to Miami.
Wake injured his Achilles later in the third quarter. He was carted off the field. Campbell didn’t have an update after the game — “we’ll find out” Friday, the coach said — but if Wake indeed tore it, the Dolphins will be without one of the league’s best pass rushers for the rest of the season.
And to add injury to, well, injury, the Dolphins also lost DeVante Parker to a foot injury. It was unclear whether it’s the same foot that needed surgery in June; he later said it was a tissue injury. Right tackle Ja’Wuan James got his own ride to the locker room after injuring his toe in the game’s opening moments; he left the stadium in a walking boot.
Any hope of a Dolphins comeback vanished when Tannehill overthrew Kenny Stills early in the fourth quarter, leading to a Duron Harmon interception deep in Miami territory.
Brady, as he seemingly always does, made the Dolphins pay. He connected with Julian Edelman on a 10-yard touchdown pass, and the rout was on.
Brady finished 26 of 38 and went over 300 yards for the 69th time in his Hall of Fame career. He also threw four touchdown passes. Tannehill, meanwhile, was 28 of 44 for a pretty empty 300 yards.
More importantly, Brady is now 4-0 against Tannehill at Gillette Stadium.
“Offensively, we didn’t do anything,” Tannehill said. “We didn’t pull our weight.”