Brady, Pats head to site of strug­gles at Dol­phins

Bangkok Post - - NFL -

>> MI­AMI: 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 said. “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.

To­day, the Pa­tri­ots (9-3) can clinch their NFL-record 10th straight di­vi­sion ti­tle with a tie or a win. Mi­ami (6-6) are still alive in the bat­tle for a play-off berth, al­though the Dol­phins are a bit of a long shot.

New Eng­land are a seven-point favourite to­day, 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 — won’t play 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.

“[Howard] is one of our best play­ers if not our best player on de­fence,” Dol­phins coach Adam Gase said. “If he can’t go, we have to make some ad­just­ments.”

That will put rookie first-rounder Minkah Fitz­patrick — who in­ter­cepted Brady in the first meeting of the sea­son — into the start­ing line-up.

Brady (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (an­kle, back) were lim­ited in prac­tice on Wed­nes­day, but both Pa­tri­ots stars were removed from the re­port by Thurs­day.

Even so, the Pa­tri­ots are wary of the Dol­phins de­fence, which ranks sec­ond in the NFL with 19 in­ter­cep­tions.

Of­fen­sively, the Dol­phins, who are 5-1 at home this sea­son, got quar­ter­back Ryan Tan­nehill back from the in­jury list in last week’s win over the Buf­falo Bills.

Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back Tom Brady is 7-9 at Mi­ami.

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