The second half of the Week 13 NFC East primetime doubleheader kicks off tonight at 8:30 ET as the 7-4 Giants visit the 5-6 Redskins. After losing three in a row to fall to 3-6 Washington appeared to be done, but two division wins since the bye have them in the hunt for a wild card spot – or possibly even a division title if they can knock off the Giants. Robert Griffin has thrown a total of eight touchdowns with only one pick in the last two games, completing 34 out of 43 passes (79%) for 511 yards.
Last time the two teams met Washington ran for 248 yards; behind phenomenal rookie Alfred Morris the Redskins are averaging an NFL second best 163 yards per game on the ground. The Giants’ strength is with their pass rush, so expect large doses of Morris in this game.
The Redskins’ biggest issue continues to be with their pass defense; they rank 31st in the league, allowing 301 yards per game through the air. They have communication issues (blown coverage on Victor Cruz‘ winning TD in the last game between these two), and unlike New York, they don’t get much pressure on opposing quarterbacks. RB Andre Brown is on IR with a broken leg, and rookie David Wilson has seen little action since fumbling the ball away earlier this season (just 24 carries all year). Tom Coughlin likely does not want to wear down Ahmad Bradshaw with a post-season run in mind, so expect Eli Manning to be throwing the ball quite a bit against that porous Washington pass defense.
Odds: depending on where you shop, the Giants are listed as 2½ or 3-point road favorites, and the over/under is 50½ most everywhere.
Prediction: Giants 31, Redskins 27
– final score: Redskins 17, Giants 16
I suppose everyone has their own perspective on each game, but I found it interesting that a fair segment of Miami writers and fans felt that the Dolphins gave the game away to the Patriots yesterday. For example, Omar Kelly writes that Miami “let the big, bad Patriots off the hook. There is no other way to view Sunday’s loss“, and wants to go all Denny Green on us.
While I do agree that I found it to be quite odd that Cameron Wake and Jared Odrick were not on the field during the Pats’ long fourth-quarter drive, let’s give the Patriots just a little bit of credit here.
Dave Hyde also chimes in that the Dolphins “made Brady mortal … confused, indecisive“. Again, I agree to an extent; but let’s also not forget that there were plenty of drops and other self-inflicted wounds by the Pats. The Miami defense is good, but they are not the second coming of the ’85 Bears.
New England played better than Miami. The Pats executed with the game on the line. They won, and they deserved to win. End of story.
I will say this though: at least the Dolphin fans are, for the most part, not celebrating as if this was some sort of moral victory – a marked difference from how a good portion of the Jets’ fan base was responding to their three-point loss to the Patriots six weeks ago.
In case you missed them, a handful of post-game observations:
Patriots-Dolphins Observation; Pats Clinch Another AFC East Crown, by Steve Balestrieri
“Crunch Time Running Game– This was the four minute offense that the team has been searching for and they did it surprisingly mainly on the ground where in the first half they treated the running game as a communicable disease.”
Five Observations: Patriots at Dolphins, by Ryan Hannable
The defensive quietly has been getting better and better each week, especially in the secondary. Some of this improvement comes from the overall defense playing more “loose” and blitzing more. Once again Bill Belichick devoted much of his time on the sidelines with the defense, sometimes paying no attention to the offense and speaking with the defense. His adjustments worked, especially dialing up more pressure.
Division Title Doesn’t Come Easy for Patriots, by Bob George
What basically won the game for the Patriots over the long haul was the inability of the Dolphin offense to consistently maintain any rhythm in their own right and take advantage of their stout defensive effort. Head coach Joe Philbin at one point called for a punt on fourth and one at midfield in the third quarter, and his defense did indeed hold thanks largely to a holding call on Daniel Fells. But his refusal to go for it was also an indictment of the Miami offense.
Looking back at Sunday’s game the Patriots rushing attack had a tough afternoon prior to the fourth quarter, and looking at the numbers it was interesting to see where they had their success.
12 of their 32 carries yesterday came over left guard, with neither running back running over right guard and just twice over left tackle.
Vince Wilfork: ‘The Offense Is Allowed To Have A Bad Game Here And There’, by Mike Petraglia
“It’s good, especially when the offense struggled, it’s a chance for us to showcase how special we are on defense,” Wilfork said. “We went out there, we didn’t give up a lot of points today. We had some three-and-outs, made some plays. The offense is allowed to have a bad game here and there. They’ve done so much for us. The one thing we want to do around here is always play as a team. The three units, the special teams, offense and defense, if one is slacking the other two help pull them up.
“When you have two and three slacking, that’s when you get problems. But today, the offense got it together, they started running the ball more. And as a defense, I love to see my offense run the football because I know we have great running backs and we have great blockers. We face those guys all the time in practice and when we started running the ball, I was excited to see from my end so I was kind of pumped up on the sideline.”
The Patriots Keep On T.C.O.B., by Rich Levine
The Patriots took care of business yesterday.
That’s probably the best and most simple way to put it.
They didn’t do anything especially well. They didn’t do anything especially poorly. There were no game-breaking highlights that you’re dying to re-watch this morning (although it was nice to see Aaron Hernandez in the open field, and Welker/Ridley both go over 1000 yards for the season). There’s no one player particularly deserving of week-long media stoning (although it would be cool if Stephen Gostkowski chilled out on the Scott Sisson impression).
Basically, all the Pats did this week was go down to Miami and earn a solid, division road win against a solid NFL team.
Like I said, they took care of business.
At this point, what more can you ask for?
This Day In Patriots History
December 3, 1961:
Boston Patriots 28, Denver Broncos 24 at Bears Stadium
Larry Garron‘s 51-yard touchdown reception gave the Pats a 4th quarter lead, and they held on to improve their record to 7-4-1. With the victory the Pats were now 5-1-1 since Mike Holovak replaced Lou Saban as head coach.
Billy Lott scored two touchdowns to give the Pats a 14-0 first quarter lead, but Denver took a 17-14 lead early in the 4th quarter when they returned a punt 55 yards for a TD. Garron’s touchdown pass from Babe Parilli put the Pats up by four, and then Parilli scored on a 7-yard run to increase the lead to 11. Denver returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but the Pats held on for the victory. Don Webb had two interceptions for the Pats, and Tom Addison had another pick.
December 3, 1972:
Miami Dolphins 37, New England Patriots 21 at Schaefer Stadium
The Dolphins rushed for 304 yards as they moved closer to a perfect season, upping their record to 12-0. Honor Jackson‘s two interceptions were the only bright spots for the New England defense, and on offense Brian Dowling passed for one touchdown and ran for another.
December 3, 1978:
Dallas Cowboys 17, New England Patriots 10 at Texas Stadium
Roger Staubach‘s two second half touchdown passes gave the Cowboys a come-from behind win, giving both teams a 10-4 record. Sam Cunningham ran for 93 yards, scoring on a 52-yard run for the Pats.
December 3, 1989:
New England Patriots 22, Indianapolis Colts 16 at Sullivan Stadium
John Stephens‘ 10-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds left to play gave the Pats a come from behind victory. The Pats had taken a 15-10 lead on five field goals by Jason Staurovsky, but the Colts went ahead on a TD by Eric Dickerson before Stephens’ game-winner. On a 3rd-and-21 from his own 26 Marc Wilson completed a 30-yard pass to Eric Sievers, and then a 17-yard pass to Irving Fryar; two plays later Stephens, who ran for 124 yards, scored the winning TD. Hart Lee Dykes had six receptions for 114 yards for the Pats.
December 3, 1995:
New Orleans Saints 31, New England Patriots 17 at Foxboro
The Saints broke open a 4th-quarter tie with two 60+ yard touchdowns to drop the Pats to 5-8. Curtis Martin rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns, and Ben Coates had seven receptions for 90 yards.
December 3, 2006:
New England Patriots 28, Detroit Lions 21 at Gillette Stadium
Corey Dillon rushed for three touchdowns as the pats avoided a huge upset to two-win Detroit. The Lions had taken a 21-13 lead before Dillon scored midway through the 4th quarter, with a 2-point conversion knotting the score at 21. On the next drive Roosevelt Colvin strip sacked Jon Kitna and Mike Wright recovered the fumble with 5:57 to go; the Pats drove and scored the game winner with 2:33 left to play. Reche Caldwell and Kevin Faulk both had eight receptions for the Patriots.
December 3, 2007:
New England Patriots 27, Baltimore Ravens 24 at M&T Bank Stadium
The Pats had their closest game of the year but won once again, improving to 12-0 in a game Baltimore fans still whine about to this day.
The Ravens’ lack of discipline was the difference in this game, as they were penalized 13 times for 100 yards and Bart Scott completely lost his composure at the end of the game, resulting in two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The game was also noteworthy for being one when the Ravens seemingly stopped the Patriots on a 4th down, but DC Rex Ryan called timeout before the ball was snapped, giving the Pats another chance – which they converted. The winning score came with 44 seconds left to play on an 8-yard pass from Tom Brady to Jabar Gaffney.
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December 3, 1948:
Ozzy Osbourne was born in Birmingham, England
December 3, 1969:
The Rolling Stones recorded Brown Sugar at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
December 3, 1979:
Eleven members of an audience at a Who concert in Cincinnati are trampled to death.
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