Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that the Patriots showed renewed enthusiasm in yesterday's win over the Miami Dolphins, 23-16. With two turnovers forced, the Patriots (5-4) brought a level of playmaking defensively that has been missing much of the season. Twice the Dolphins ventured into the red zone and for the first time this season a New England opponent came away without points. The Patriots win over the Dolphins (3-6) kept them a game ahead of Buffalo in the AFC East and moved them two games in front of Miami. "There's a lot of football left," Seymour said. "I think at this point right now, the media is trying to put the Colts and the Giants in the Super Bowl, but we've got something to say about it. That's why you play the games."
The biggest suprise in yesterday's 23-16 win over the Miami Dolphins was the performance of running back Heath Evans. Tom Curan of the Providence Journal writes that Evans, who was released by Miami on Oct. 25 and signed by the Patriots on Nov. 1, ran for 84 yards on 17 thumping carries. "He's looked good in practice and got an opportunity based on what has taken place at that position," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick of the five-year veteran. "He ran well, made some nice cuts, picked up the blitz and had a big performance . . . . Heath stepped up and did a great job." Curran also notes that Evans' 17 carries equals his single-season high set in 2002 with the Seahawks. His output of 84 yards approaches his career total of 108 yards. And he added three catches after catching 12 NFL passes before yesterday.
Ron Borges of the Boston Globe writes that in a game they badly needed to win, the Patriots made two plays that were too close for comfort, Tim Dwight's 59-yard catch-and-run that set up the winning touchdown and Tedy Bruschi's diving fingertip deflection of a Gus Frerotte pass intended for Wes Welker in the end zone at 9:44 of the second quarter that saved a touchdown and led to a missed 31-yard Olindo Mare field goal. In the end, those plays decided who would win and who would lose. "Those plays are the essence of every game in the NFL," Bruschi said. "When the opportunity presents itself, it's 'who's going to make the play?' You get it done or the other guy makes it. That's pro football. That's why I love playing this game. It's why it's exciting. It's why it feels so good to win. Because it's so difficult. On my play I'm sure Frerotte is thinking, 'If I got the ball there just a little quicker . . . '"
Jerome Solomon of the Boston Globe writes that Patriots running back Corey Dillon felt good after warmups yesterday and thought he was ready to go. But he appeared to injure his right calf on the first play of the game and didn't play again in the 23-16 win over Miami. "One injury just leads to another, now I might need to be airlifted everywhere I need to go," Dillon said. "The extent of the injury I don't know. I can't tell at this time. I'll try my best get back. When I come back, I'm going to be 100 percent. I can't be 80, 'cause that leads to other stuff. So when I come back, I'm going to be ready. That's all I can look forward to." Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald also offers a report on Dillon.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that Tedy Bruschi had his best game by far since his return. He had a modest four tackles but was a presence on the pass rush (on a day when few guys were) and had two huge pass deflections. "There were a couple of plays in pass coverage I wanted to pick off. I want to improve. I want to get better. That's where I am coming back in the middle of the season. I'm anxious for straight-up improving. From the beginning, I said I'd never done this before and jumped into a season in the sixth or seventh week. I can't predict how it will be every week, but I just want to keep getting better."
Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes that though Tom Brady may not have had his finest day as a quarterback, with the game on the line he saved his best for last - a 17-yard lob to Ben Watson in the left corner of the end zone – and it stood as the game-winning score in yesterday's 23-16 triumph over the Dolphins. Overall, Brady was 21-of-36 for 275 yards with two interceptions and two touchdowns. On paper, that doesn't seem too shabby, but if you watched, he seemed very un-Brady. Until the end. "It was pretty sweet at the end," Brady said. "I think the offense has always been excited about that and is always excited about having the opportunity to do that."
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal writes that tight end Benjamin Watson's two-touchdown performance propelled the Patriots to a gritty 23-16 win over the Dolphins. Watson has had many up and down performances this season, but this was arguably his best game as a pro.
Alan Greenberg of the Hartford Courant writes that Tight end Daniel Graham, wide receiver David Givens and offensive tackle Tom Ashworth, all of whom played in last Monday's loss to the Colts, were out with injuries Sunday against the Dolphins. Tailback Corey Dillon was limited to one play because of a calf injury, but Miami castoff Heath Evans stepped in to carry 17 times for 84 yards.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his analysis of the Patriots win over the Miami Dolphins and breaks down all of the matchups.
Tom Curran of the Providence Journal offers his daily sports blog with Patriots notes and commentary.