ReFo: Dolphins @ Patriots, Week 15
The New England Patriots clinched the AFC East title for the sixth consecutive season yesterday, after a blowout victory over the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots were not at their best in the first half, but outscored Miami 24-0 in the third quarter to put the game away.
Now standing at 7-7, the Dolphins will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs. Miami had difficulty protecting Ryan Tannehill, allowing 22 total pressures. The team’s defense also missed 16 tackles, which is never a recipe for success. Here are the game’s key performances:
Miami Dolphins – Performances of Note
Ja’Waun James, LT: -5.1
Breakdown: James was adequate as a run blocker, but surrendered a season-high 11 total pressures (two sacks, two hits and six hurries), on his way to a -4.7 pass protection grade. James now has red grades in three of his five games since replacing the injured Branden Albert at left tackle.
Signature Stat: James had surrendered nine total pressures in his previous four games at LT, before allowing 11 in yesterday’s game alone.
Jared Odrick, DT: +2.1
Breakdown: Odrick was moved too easily in the run game at times, but shined as a pass rusher. He turned 29 pass rushes into three hits and a pair of batted passes for a season-high +3.5 pass rushing grade.
Signature Stat: Odrick has just one sack this season, but still ranks 12th among defensive tackles with a +8.6 pass rushing grade for the season. He now has 28 total pressures, and his six batted passes lead all defensive tackles.
Philip Wheeler, LB: -2.4
Breakdown: Missed tackles were a major problem for the Dolphins, and Wheeler led the way with four. Adding to the tackle troubles, Wheeler was targeted three times in coverage and surrendered three catches for 62 yards. The former Colt/Raider had missed just three total tackles in 2014, and his -2.4 grade is his worst of the year.
Signature Play: Rob Gronkowski beat Wheeler for a 35-yard gain that set up Julian Edelman’s touchdown late in the third quarter.
New England Patriots – Performances of Note
Chandler Jones, OLB: +4.1
Breakdown: Jones played 56 snaps in his first game back from a hip injury, and posted his second-best grade of the season. He earned positive marks in both run defense and pass rushing. All four of his tackles were stops, and he turned 40 pass rushes into two sacks, a hit, four hurries and a forced fumble.
Signature Stat: Despite the missed time, Jones ranks ninth among 3-4 OLB’s in both overall grade and pass rushing grade.
Dont’a Hightower, LB: +4.4
Breakdown: Hightower continued his excellent season, and now leads all inside linebackers with a +22.7 season grade. Hightower led the team with a +3.0 run defense grade and four stops, and added a sack and a hit as a pass rusher.
Signature Play: Hightower teamed up with Jones to sack Ryan Tannehill on 4th-and-23 late in the fourth quarter, giving the ball to New England’s offense to run out the clock.
Rob Gronkowski, TE: +4.4
Breakdown: After being shut out in the first half, Gronkowski had three catches of 27 or more yards in the second half. He was also dominant as a run blocker (+2.0), earning his best grade of the season in that department.
Signature Stat: Gronkowski’s overall grade of +27.7 is more than double that of Greg Olsen, our second highest-graded tight end of 2014.
PFF Game Ball
Chandler Jones’ excellent performance in his return to the field earns him the game ball.