Armando Salguero

Patriots pummel the Dolphins: On to the playoffs vs. Pittsburgh!

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is chased by Miami Dolphins defensive end Andre Branch and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell in the first quarter as the Dolphins host the Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is chased by Miami Dolphins defensive end Andre Branch and defensive tackle Earl Mitchell in the first quarter as the Dolphins host the Patriots at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Both the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots are going to the playoffs but on a day both teams played all their healthy players, the Patriots showed they are a far superior, far more experienced and, yes, better team.

Pats 35.

Dolphins 14.

The Miami defense is bad. It gave up 600 yards last week. The Patriots moved the ball as if at will on Sunday. The fact the linebacker corps is overmatched is apparent. The fact Byron Maxwell is missed is obvious.

Miami Dolphins head coach, Adam Gase, talks about the struggles through the 35-14 loss against the New England Patriots.

The offense, meanwhile, is still inconsistent.

And everyone is wondering if Ryan Tannehill can be the answer next week in the playoffs as the matchup at Pittsburgh is now certain.

Me? Play Tannehill, please.

If he can move, play him.

If he can be certain he cannot injure himself more than any other player on the field simply by participating, play him.

Play football.

Understand, that Matt Moore wasn’t the reason the Dolphins got blown out on Sunday. He had a 93.4 QB rating in throwing two TD passes and one interception. But this Dolphins team needs a lift.

Why?

Because the defense is a drag and everyone knows it. The only way the Dolphins win a playoff game is if they outscore Pittsburgh because they’re not stopping Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell. Yeah, they beat Pittsburgh two months ago, but that was a different defense -- a healthier defense.

And Ben got hurt that day and didn’t play the same afterward.

He’s healthy now. The Steelers have been rolling on offense.

Miami needs a spark.

Tannehill.

Still not convinced?

Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore talks to the media after the team's loss to the New England Patriots on Jan. 1, 2017.

This Dolphins team, plucky and lovable for giving effort, needs an infusion of ... of ... something because they’re overmatched against playoff-caliber teams like the New England Patriots and perhaps Pittsburgh Steelers.

Proof of that came Sunday.

This was never really a game although the Dolphins tried to make you feel like it was.

They fell behind 20-0 but scored to end the first half and then again to open the third quarter and that 20-14 margin gave hope.

But with a leaky defense and inconsistent offense, this was never really anything but New England’s game.

And that became crystal clear when Julian Edelman scored on a 77 yard catch to make it 27-14. That score was actually nothing more than an 11-yard pass on which the Dolphins didn’t line up a defender over the New England receiver. When he caught the football, Edelman broke one tackle and he was off to the races, helped by a devastating block on cornerback Tony Lippett by receiver Michael Floyd.

The Dolphins threatened after that but a completion from Matt Moore to Damien Williams to the New England 10 yard line was turned into the biggest turnover of the day when Williams fumbled and Shea McClellin scooped it and returned it 69 yards. The Patriots eventually stretched their lead on a 1-yard TD run by LaGarrette Blount.

That and the two-point conversion sealed this Patriots win.

On to Pittsburgh.

Miami Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry talks about the team's loss to the New England Patriots on Jan. 1, 2017.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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