FOXBOROUGH — After recording only 59 yards of total offense in the first half of Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium, the Patriots scored 24 unanswered points while amassing 193 yards (252 total) to take the game, 27-17.
It was, in essence, a tale of two halves.
For the Patriots, the resurgent play can be pinpointed to some key defensive stops and turnovers, helping the team’s timid offense get a short field on three occasions, which led to touchdowns.
With that in mind, here’s five takeaways from the Patriots’ win over the Dolphins:
1. Player of the day: Logan Ryan — Ryan didn’t play the first half, but he sure made his presence felt in the second. He recorded five total tackles, two sacks, a pass defensed, and a forced fumble. His strip sack of Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was pivotal play in the third quarter. Only three plays later, Brandon Bolden punched in a 2-yard touchdown.
“Any time that you’re number is called or your name is called on a certain play, you want to make sure you make it because you don’t get it all the time,” Ryan said. “The more you make plays, the more opportunities you get.”
Of course, Ryan’s day doesn’t come without regrets. He almost had a pick-six on a Tannehill throw to the flat.
“That’s one I’m going to dream about,” he said. “And have nightmares about.”
As long as Ryan continues to contribute like he did Sunday, he’ll see his opportunities increase.
2. Filling the vacuum on defense — In one respect, the Patriots scored 24 points in the second half. In another, they shut out the Dolphins. The Patriots forced three turnovers and recorded six sacks in the third and fourth quarters, making up for a first half in which the defense gave up 175 yards of offense, including 103 on the ground.
“We knew that obviously we had to step up after that first half,” said linebacker Dane Fletcher. “And we did as a whole team. And that’s what we needed. Special teams, offense, defense, we really came together. Played well and played a good, solid half together and started enjoying it.”
Fletcher, who saw an increased role Sunday with the loss of Jerod Mayo still affecting the team, managed to get in on the action himself. He finished with two tackles and a sack. It was his first sack of the year after returning from an ACL injury that wiped out his 2012 season.
“You know it’s nice to have a role on defense again and just play and get comfortable out there,” Fletcher said. “I felt, at least by the fourth quarter, I was really comfortable with things again. After taking some time off and just the game experience starts to come back to you. I started to feel better and just having a little fun with it. And then that’s when you play the best.”
Along with Jamie Collins (2 tackles), Dont’a Hightower (10 tackles, 1 sack), and Brandon Spikes (9 tackles), the linebacker group has had its ups and downs in the past two games without Mayo present. But as Fletcher noted, they’re each getting more and more comfortable. In a twist, it helps that the team’s defensive backs, Ryan and Marquice Cole, were able to make some game-changing plays.
Read the full post: 5 takeaways from the Patriots-Dolphins game – Extra Points – Boston.com.