Wide receiver Michael Floyd has been a Patriot for less than three weeks, but you wouldn’t have known it watching Sunday’s 35-14 win over the Dolphins. In the absence of injured wideouts Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell, Floyd caught three passes for 36 yards and a touchdown while playing 49 snaps, rare for a player so new to the Patriots system.
Floyd lined up all over the field and had two of the more impressive plays of the game. In the first quarter, he muscled through five defenders to get into the end zone, and in the third, he left his feet to deliver a stunning block that freed Julian Edelman for a 77-yard touchdown.
“It’s been great to have him,” Tom Brady said in his weekly WEEI interview. “We needed him.
“We all know how hard it is to find a role as a receiver in our offense, and we’ve talked about so many players over the years that haven’t been able to accomplish that.
“To come in two weeks after being in the same system for four years, like he was, and then come in and play basically the whole game and make play after play . . . I think it just gives everyone confidence that he can establish a role for himself and that we can rely and count on him when it matters.”
Added offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, “He moved around. He didn’t play the same spot the whole time, which again is a credit to him and the work that he’s put in.”
Video: Floyd’s touchdown
Video: Floyd’s big block
Floyd became available after the Cardinals released him following a DUI arrest. The Patriots were the only team to claim the former first-round pick, and so far it’s been a good fit.
“Our team has a great support system in place, and all I know is that he’s been working extremely hard every day to get ready to play,” Brady said. “He’s in there early in the morning and stays late at night.
“The amount of walkthroughs he’s gone through, meetings with coaches and receivers, and how strongly the receivers feel about what he’s brought to the room in a short period of time, I just hear nothing but great things.”
Game day is Jan. 14
While the opponent will not be known until this weekend’s wild-card games are played, the date and time of the Patriots’ next game were confirmed by the NFL. The Patriots will host a divisional-round game on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 8:15 p.m. Tickets will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. at ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000. There is a limit of four per person.
Focus is on wins
In his 17th season, Brady set not only a personal record for fewest interceptions (two) but also an NFL record for the best touchdown-to-interception ratio, 28-2. Though he was suspended for the first four games of the season, many NFL observers consider Brady an MVP candidate. Not that he’s paying attention.
“I get messages from friends saying, ‘Man, you’ve had such a great year,’ but I really don’t think about it,” he said. “Football is a team sport, and the reality is that the MVP is usually a quarterback on a good team.
“There are a lot of great players in the NFL, and it’s very flattering to be mentioned as one of those players, but I’ve always been about winning and our team winning. That’s always what’s been most important to me and what will always be most important to me.”
For a defensive unit that allowed the fewest points in the NFL, the Patriots have been a heavily criticized group.
The Patriots defense rebounded from a 31-24 loss to Seattle in Week 10 and allowed just 20 points over the final three games.
Although the Patriots defense is playing its best football of the season, the players don’t want the momentum to stop now.
“We’re going to find out [if this is our best football],” said defensive back Patrick Chung. “We’ve got three more to go and it’s a new season. You know how it goes around here. It’s a one-game season so we’ve got to play our best football now.”
For Chung, who is in his eighth NFL season, the luxury of being a No. 1 seed and having a bye week in the AFC playoffs does not go unnoticed.
“It’s a fresh start and we need to get our bodies right. Keep our minds on football,” said Chung, who is second on the team with 91 tackles, according to the Patriots’ website. “We just have to get healthy and get out here and play some ball.”
As for being No. 1 in scoring defense, Chung had a simple explanation.
“It means we’re a good defense,” he said. “We keep people out of the end zone and it’s a great accomplishment, but it really means nothing now.
“It’s like a refresh, like a reset button. But still we have this task at hand and we’re fighting for three games,” he said. “We’ve got to execute and prepare like we’ve done to this point. It’s go time.”
As the Patriots await their next opponent, preparation for another deep playoff run already is underway. For Chung and his veteran teammates, the opportunity to groom younger players can be a joyous experience. Several younger Patriots, among them Joe Thuney, Ted Karras, and Jacoby Brissett, entered the locker room Monday with interesting haircuts.
“It’s a good thing [having guys on the team] with a lot of playoff experience,” said Chung. “I guess you’ve got to learn from the older guys.”
Voice of experience
In his ninth season, special teams ace Matthew Slater is one of the longest-tenured Patriots on the roster, and he has more playoff experience than most other NFL players. “For those of you who have covered this team for a while and those of us who have played here for a while, I hope we realize what type of situation we’re in,” Slater said. “It’s really special.” . . . Brady laughed when asked if the Patriots could become overconfident, saying, “I think with coach [Bill] Belichick, you don’t have to worry about being overconfident. He can take the air out of that really quickly, out of your ego or what you think you can accomplish. That’s what he’s all about. He never lets you get too high, and he keeps us focused.”
Globe correspondent Richard Morin contributed to this report. Everett Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.