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Alain Poupart: A Tale Of Two Halves

Posted Dec 24, 2011

Some random thoughts and observations on a day that started out so well but ended in disappointment

• Wow, talk about a reversal of fortune. The Dolphins totally manhandled Tom Brady and company in the first half and then just couldn’t stop him in the second. It’s not like they’re the first team to have trouble with that Patriots offense, though.

• It also didn’t help that the Dolphins made some bad mistakes, the most obvious being the fumbled exchance between center Mike Pouncey and quarterback Matt Moore when Pouncey snapped before Moore was ready for it.

• We’d also be remiss not to mention a bad no-call by the officials on New England’s first touchdown of the second half. Watch the replay and tell me Cameron Wake wasn’t held. That touchdown, mind you, came on a third-and-goal from the 2, so it should have been third-and-goal from the 12.

• Really, though, the Dolphins didn’t lose because of the officating. Rather, it was their inability to sustain their offensive work and also their inability to contain the Patriots’ inside receivers — Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

• That first half, though, was a thing of beauty. It was so much fun watching the Patriots being dominated that way. Even better was hearing the fans boo the Patriots offense after a three-and-out series.

• Defensively, the Dolphins got a lot of pressure on Brady, and often without having to blitz. The coverage by the secondary also was tremendous. In fact, probably the most common scene in that first half was Welker complaining to the officials after an incomplete pass.

• Another strong outing by Reggie Bush, who recorded his fourth consecutive 100-yard performance and reached 1,000 yards on the season. Loved that play in the first half when he leaped over cornerback Kyle Arrington and never broke stride upon landing.

• The big play again was a big part of the Dolphins offense, with three completions of 39 yards or more, starting with one to Brian Hartline on the first series.

• Major kudos to Brandon Marshall for being able to hang on to that touchdown pass in the second quarter while taking hits on both sides from Patriots defenders Kyle Arrington and Sergio Brown.

• Marshall also did a nice job in the first half when Moore underthrew a pass in the end zone and Marshall became a defender to break up a potential interception. That kept alive a drive that ended with a touchdown.

• Back to Bush, love his running but that pass he threw to Matt Moore in the first half ... Yikes! But the Dolphins got a pass interference call on linebacker Rob Ninkovich on the play and that set up their second touchdown.

• Little did anybody know it at the time, but perhaps the biggest play of the game came on the kickoff return after the Patriots kicked a field goal to cut the Dolphins’ lead to 17-3. Clyde Gates had gotten through the seam and appeared on his way to a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. But kicker Stephen Gostkowski was able to get just a hand on Gates and that was enough to make him stumble and go down at the 38-yard line. Three plays later came the fumbled exchange, which led to a New England touchdown that made it 17-10.

• Against a team as good as the Patriots, it’s often just all it takes.

• Looking ahead, Sunday’s game against the Jets became a lot more interesting after they got beat by the Giants on Saturday. The Jets now will need to beat the Dolphins to make the playoffs. What better way to end the season could there be than to knock out the Jets.

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