FOXBORO — A message needed to be sent.
The Patriots were only ahead of the Dolphins 14-13 at the half, after allowing Miami to score 10 points in the final four minutes and change of the first half to get back in the game. The Patriots offense was sluggish, totaling just 102 years of net offense in the opening half, and only 82 passing yards.
On the opening drive of the second half, it was 3rd-and-11 on the Miami 20-yard line and Brady dropped back to pass, finding no receiver open in the Miami secondary. Brady, who rarely ever runs with the ball, took off and picked up the first down getting inside the 5-yard line up the right sideline. Instead of sliding, Brady took on Dolphins safety Walt Atkins head on and picked up a total of 17 yards to set up a LeGarrette Blount 3-yard touchdown run on the next play.
It was Brady’s longest run since 2007 and the third-longest of his career.
“I think it was a play that we needed to make so it was good to make it at that time,” Brady said after the game. “I was going to slide but I was pretty pissed off that time so I figured I wouldn’t slide. I wish I wouldn’t have gotten knocked down, but that’s the way it goes.”
Asked if his unusual running ability gave the team some momentum, Brady said it was more Blount’s touchdown, which put the team ahead 21-13 at the time.
“I think the touchdown did more so on the next play,” Brady said. “That was a great run. It’s just whatever it takes. I think that’s what matters. I think all our guys responded the way we wanted to and it was good to go in there and finish them off like we did.”
New England’s offense was an entirely different unit in the second half. After totaling 102 yards in the first half, they finished with 293 in the second half. Brady was 8-for-15 with 82 yards and an interception in the first half, but was 13-for-20 with 205 yards and two touchdowns, no interceptions in the second half. Brady finished the game 21-for-35 with 287 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. It was his tenth straight game of throwing for more than 245 yards.
“I know we were all pretty pissed off at halftime — it just wasn’t the way we — 25 plays on offense and terrible time of possession, terrible on third down, just didn’t do anything to help our team win,” said Brady. “I thought we did a better job of coming out that in the second half, aided by some turnovers by our defense. Our defense has just been playing incredible, which is what we’re going to need. I’m glad we started to earn our paycheck there in the second half. It was good to be able to do that. It was a good feeling. We still left some opportunity out there.”
With the win, the Patriots won their sixth straight AFC East title. It was the 12th AFC East title in the 13 full seasons Brady has been in the league. Even with that success, the winning doesn’t get old.
“I think every year is a different year for us and every year we have a great opportunity to try to accomplish something,” said Brady. “It doesn’t start this morning, it started back in March. It’s a lot of hard work that goes into it. I don’t think you ever take winning for granted; I certainly don’t because I know how hard it is to win. I think we appreciate it. I also know that we have big goals every year for our team, so this is the one that is the first one to get. It was great to be able to do it against a team that we lost to earlier in the year. We had a great opportunity to go out there and play a lot better than we did the last time.
“It’s great to win. It’s a great feeling. That’s why we play. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of an organization where that’s what matters the most and to play with some really great players over the years. I think winning and experiencing it with the players and coaches and Mr. [Robert] Kraft and Jonathan and his family. It’s pretty awesome.”