Brady, Patriots head to site of strug­gles at Dol­phins

‘They play ex­tremely well at home. We haven’t played well down there’

Gulf Times Sport - - NFL -

Tom Brady is 7-9 when play­ing on the road against the Mi­ami Dol­phins. Let that statis­tic sink in: Brady, the 13-time Pro Bowl quar­ter­back who has led the New Eng­land Patriots to five Su­per Bowl ti­tles, win­ning MVP hon­ours in four of those ul­ti­mate games, has lost more than he has won at the Dol­phins.

The Patriots have no trou­ble win­ning at home against the Dol­phins, in­clud­ing 38-7 ear­lier this sea­son. But, whether it’s the hu­mid weather or the dis­trac­tions of South Beach, the Patriots have lost four of their past five games at Hard Rock Sta­dium. “It’s a big chal­lenge, win­ning down there,” Patriots of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Josh McDaniels told The Bos­ton Her­ald. “They play ex­tremely well at home. We haven’t played well down there.”

Mi­ami won 27-20 last year at home against the Patriots. Dol­phins cor­ner­back Xavien Howard in­ter­cepted Brady twice, and the Patriots went 0-for-11 on third down. To­mor­row, the Patriots (9-3) can clinch their NFLrecord 10th straight divi­sion ti­tle with a tie or a win. Mi­ami (6-6) is still alive in the bat­tle for a play­off berth, al­though the Dol­phins are a bit of a long shot.

New Eng­land is a seven-point favourite to­mor­row, and Mi­ami’s mon­u­men­tal chal­lenge of try­ing to knock off the Patriots just got sig­nif­i­cantly more dif­fi­cult.

Howard, a Pro Bowl can­di­date who leads the NFL with seven in­ter­cep­tions - in­clud­ing four in the past two weeks - is likely to miss the Patriots game due to in­jury. He hurt his knee dur­ing his sec­ond in­ter­cep­tion in last week’s Dol­phins win over the Buf­falo Bills. But Howard, per­haps due to adren­a­line, missed just one play and fin­ished the game.

On Wed­nes­day, he did not prac­tice. “(Howard) is one of our best play­ers if not our best player on de­fense,” Dol­phins coach Adam Gase said. “If he can’t go, we have to make some ad­just­ments.”

Howard, the reign­ing AFC De­fen­sive Player of the Week, is ex­pected to re­turn this sea­son, Gase said.

Brady (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (an­kle, back) were lim­ited in prac­tice on Wed­nes­day, but both Patriots stars are ex­pected to play on Sun­day.

Even so, the Patriots are wary of the Dol­phins de­fense, which ranks sec­ond in the NFL with 19 in­ter­cep­tions. “There’s a lot to deal with,” McDaniels said. “They have an ag­gres­sive, pen­e­trat­ing front, and they mix their calls and cov­er­ages quite a bit.”

Of­fen­sively, the Dol­phins got quar­ter­back Ryan Tan­nehill back from the in­jury list in last week’s win over the Buf­falo Bills. He had missed five games due to an in­jured throw­ing shoul­der.

The Dol­phins, who are 5-1 at home this sea­son, have faced nu­mer­ous in­juries, es­pe­cially at wide re­ceiver, where they have lost two of their big­gest play­mak­ers: Al­bert Wil­son and Ja­keem Grant.

But wide re­ceiver Danny Amendola, who missed last week’s game due to a knee in­jury, is ex­pected to play against his for­mer team, the Patriots. Amendola, who has played 11 games this sea­son, leads the Dol­phins in catches (48) and yards (469). “I think,” Gase said, “he wants to play in this game as badly as any­one.”


New Eng­land Patriots quar­ter­back Tom Brady looks to make a pass against the Min­nesota Vik­ings dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter at Gil­lette Sta­dium in Foxboro, Mas­sachusetts, on De­cem­ber 2.

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