MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Julian Edelman felt a rush of air behind him as he ran, free, 77 yards and into the end zone. It was Michael Floyd, crashing like a missile into Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett, who was within inches of tackling the streaking Edelman.
“I felt it. I felt it. I felt some wind go by,” Edelman said.
Floyd, a fellow wide receiver, had abandoned his go-route down the sideline when he saw Edelman make the catch, and Floyd laid Lippett out with a strong candidate for Block of the Year less than a day into 2017.
“I was just doing the extra stuff, to get the job done for other guys. You know, I thought maybe Lippett might have been able to catch him,” Floyd said.
The play came on a drive where the Patriots needed to respond after the Dolphins had made it a one-score game with a methodical, 75-yard drive that kept New England’s defense on the field for more than six minutes by converting four times on third down.
Floyd’s hit, which sent Lippett into concussion protocol before he was quickly cleared, was the peak moment in the best game of Floyd’s newborn Patriots career. It showed his obvious, even desperate, desire for a fresh start and to make a good impression.
With Malcolm Mitchell missing the game because of a knee injury and Danny Amendola still out with a sprained ankle, Floyd played the majority of snaps with the offense. Floyd capitalized on the opportunity, making the kind of tough, second-effort plays that tend to endear players to fans.
Floyd has thrown himself into the Patriots playbook. That the Patriots asked him to handle such a heavy workload is evidence that he has caught up quickly. During the game, Floyd routinely consulted with third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who has been putting in extra work running plays to help Floyd study, as soon as he came off the field.
Floyd had three catches on four targets for 36 yards, one of which covered 14 yards for his first touchdown as a Patriot.
On the scoring play, the Patriots ran a pick with Floyd and Chris Hogan, who drew Floyd’s defender over the top. Floyd made an easy catch, but getting over the goal line was a different matter, as Floyd put in a mammoth second effort to fight through several Dolphins for the score.
He was thinking end zone the whole time.
“I just haven’t been in there in a while so I wanted to get in there today, for sure,” Floyd said.
Floyd became the 65th player to catch a touchdown pass from Tom Brady, who last week hit No. 64 on the list, tight end Matt Lengel, for the first time.
Floyd’s origin story as a Patriot is vastly different than Lengel’s. Lengel was undrafted out of Eastern Kentucky in 2015 and had been on Cincinnati’s practice squad before the Patriots signed him, while Floyd was a first-round pick of Arizona in 2012 out of Notre Dame.
Floyd was waived by the Cardinals last month following his arrest for DUI. The Patriots were the only team to claim him.
“They made me feel real comfortable and that’s great to see,” Floyd said. “There’s no one asking questions about my past.”
Edelman complimented Floyd, saying, “Mike’s playing well for us. He’s been here for two weeks and to make an impact like he has just shows he’s a mentally tough guy. You know, he’s been through some stuff and to put all that aside and help us win ballgames, that’s huge.
“He’s tough, he’s physical, you know,’’ Edelman said. “He can be in the room any time when I’m here. I like him.”
Video: Floyd’s touchdown
Video: Floyd’s big block