The biggest irony in the wake of New England’s win over the Dolphins, one year after Miami unleashed a Wildcat surprise on the Pats, is that the home team found even more motivation in the pregame popping off by linebacker Joey Porter.
If any team knows the power of big talk, it’s the Dolphins, whose two wins over the Jets surely were fueled in large part by the decision of coach Rex Ryan and multiple players to run their mouths repeatedly.
And so it’s fitting, we suppose, that the Pats took down the Dolphins, and that Porter made no contribution to the effort.
It wasn’t easy. A ten-minute drive, with eight of the 16 snaps coming from the Wildcat formation, helped the Dolphins take a one-point lead late in the third quarter.
But then, Randy Moss stepped up. In the first half, his one-handed grab near the goal line set up a touchdown. In the second half, his 71-yard catch and run on a crossing pattern with a beautiful stiff arm and an even more impressive ability to keep his feet after Vontae Davis dove at them conjured memories of this play from Randy’s Marshall days, which featured not only a stiff arm but a hurdle.
The play allowed Moss to match T.O. with 140 career receiving touchdowns. And that’s sure to make Terrell Owens even happier about his current circumstances.
The victory moved the Pats to 6-2, with big tests coming up at Indy, against the Jets, and at New Orleans. Win the next three, and the Patriots will be able to legitimately claim that, once again, they’re the best team in the NFL.
For the Dolphins, the window is closing. But there’s still hope. If they win the next three (Tampa, at Carolina, at Buffalo), the Fins could move to 7-5 by beating the Pats in the rematch. It wouldn’t nail down a second straight playoff berth, but it would move them closer to getting back to the postseason again, only two years after a horrendous 1-15 record.