PLAY OF THE GAME
Situation: Trailing, 20-10, with 8:53 remaining, the Dolphins had third and 4 at the New England 7-yard line.
What happened: The Patriots showed two-man coverage — Cover 2 with two deep safeties and man coverage underneath. Linebacker Jerod Mayo (51) had running back Daniel Thomas (33) in man coverage. Mayo often has the option of rushing the quarterback if the running back stays in to block, which is commonly called a “green dog.” The Patriots refer to it as a “hug blitz” — hug coverage and then go. Depending on the situation, Mayo varies his aggressiveness. This time, he was very aggressive. At the snap, he hopped to the outside to make Thomas, who has the option of helping inside if he feels Mayo will rush, think he was in coverage, but it also hid Mayo a bit behind left tackle Jonathan Martin (71). Patriots right end Trevor Scott (99) helped by running to Thomas, who fell for it and chipped Scott. That left Mayo to shoot himself out of a cannon for the sack on Ryan Tannehill (17), which took just 2.2 seconds.
ON HIS GAME
Jerod Mayo, linebacker
The top standout in a terrific front seven, Mayo was sensational: sack, two knockdowns, two half run stuffs, forced fumble, great open-field tackle, and standout pass coverage. An All-Pro performance.
OFF HIS GAME
Sebastian Vollmer, right tackle
Hopefully, this was just a case of Vollmer being outmatched by Cameron Wake and not an injury, because the Patriots need better than a sack, two half-sacks, three hurries, and a knockdown allowed from their Pro Bowler.
Greg A. Bedard