Going into the game on Sunday night, it looked as if the Miami Dolphins really had a shot at possibly beating the New England Patriots.
Riding a two-game win streak, with an interim head coach who had his team and south Florida that times had changed for the better following the firing of Joe Philbin, Dan Campbell's team was exposed by Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.
If there is any consolation in the 36-7 loss on Thursday night, it might be that every team in the league that has played the Patriots so far this season - with maybe the exception of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener - has been exposed to a point where they are still bleeding from the loss.
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That's what happens when Brady is pissed at the NFL, and coach Bill Belichick has his foot on the gas of this sports car offense.
Miami lost its star defensive end as well, adding to the troubles that still exist. This is a team that took a major leap backward Thursday night, and how they work to right the ship will tell fans and the coaching staff a lot about the roster's character.
"Yes, there were times during the first half the Dolphins defense held Tom Brady in check, but, for a majority of the game, Brady did what he’s done all season long — pick apart any and every coverage you threw at him. Brady finished the night with 356 yards and four touchdowns, and completed an impressive 68 percent of his passes along the way," said John Congemi of miamidolphins.com.
"The Dolphins front four started to generate pressure on Brady in the second quarter, and it resulted in four New England punts in a row. However, the pressure wasn’t nearly consistent enough, and it wouldn’t be long before Brady got back in synch with his receivers."
Can this loss help Miami grow, or does it set them back to a point where they should worry about a high draft pick and possibly revamping its offense in the offseason? Time will tell.
Can the defense step up and fill the void left by Wake's season-ending injury? Can Ndamukong Suh step up and play like the big-time free agent he was signed to be? Does Olivier Vernon pick up the slack as well? What happens with the Miami pass rush?
And better yet, what happens to Ryan Tannehill, the quarterback who looked more at ease over the two weeks since Philbin left the organization, then looked lost against the Patriots' defense?
There are 10 days to decide those issues. The Dolphins still appear to be better than they were four weeks ago. But a crushing blow like this tends to hurt a team's morale rather than help it.
Miami was already a fragile franchise. It will important to see if Campbell's team does not crack in this situation.
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