With Cameron Wake’s track record against Tom Brady, it’s no question the Patriots quarterback is relieved whenever he can avoid him.
But this wasn’t the way he was hoping to do so.
Wake sustained an injury to his left Achilles late in the third quarter of Miami’s 36-7 loss to New England on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
The seven-year defensive end came up lame late in the third quarter. He pulled up rushing around the left edge on what was a third-down stop for the Dolphins’ defense, hitting the ground before being helped off by medical personnel. He became the third Dolphins player to get carted off the field Thursday.
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Wake tried his best to finish the play, hopping on his right leg before being given up on by Patriots tight end Michael Williams. He then took a step on his left leg to keep after Brady, but couldn’t get near the quarterback he has haunted for so long.
Wake’s sack in the first half gave the rejuvenated veteran seven this season, all in the past three games. It also gave him 9.5 lifetime against Brady, more than any other active player can boast.
Unfortunately, it could be his last sack for some time.
“You see a guy like Cam Wake go down — it’s tough on everybody,” center Mike Pouncey said of his teammate, who was seen in the locker room with crutches and a boot on his left foot, and declined to speak to the media.
“He’s such a great football player, and I just hope everything works out.”
Going against an inexperienced offensive line that has been in tatters, things were ripe for Wake and Co. to put the heat on Brady.
With Ndamukong Suh finally making his mark in Sunday’s win over Houston and Wake riding a wave of success the past couple of weeks, the high-priced, big-named Dolphins front had started to hit its stride.
The Patriots offensive line, meanwhile, was far from full strength. With starting left tackle Nate Solder out for the season with a torn biceps and guard Shaq Mason (knee) and tackle Marcus Cannon (toe) out for a second consecutive game, the Patriots didn’t have many big bodies left. The ones that remained, including second-year lineman Cameron Fleming and rookies David Andrews and Tre’ Jackson (who left with a knee injury), weren’t expected to be in the lineup before the season kicked off.
But pinning your ears back and rushing the passer is easy when the other team is playing catch-up. It’s an entirely different thing when your opponent is controlling the tempo.
Olivier Vernon was able to get in the backfield thanks to some favorable one-on-one matchups while Wake and Suh were given extra attention; he recorded a second-half sack. Suh was routinely occupying multiple blockers, forcing Brady out of the pocket on a third-and-16 play to coax an incompletion. Wake abused Fleming on his sack.
But what had looked to be a clear strength heading into the evening never panned out.
And Wake’s injury was the low point.
Wake has never played fewer than 14 games. His sack Thursday night was the 70th of the four-time Pro Bowler’s career.
“He’s such an explosive player off the edge, and he’s just a ball hawk,” Brady said earlier in the week.
“Playing against him, he’s got the respect of everybody on our team, our coaches, and he’s just, he’s a force, and it’s hard to slow him down.”