The New England Patriots have never been a running team. They’ve built the most consistent franchise in the NFL around quarterback Tom Brady and the passing game. While that might be the way to win games in football these days, the lack of a rushing attack cost them one today against the Miami Dolphins.
Throwing the football scores points in the NFL, but you need a solid running game if you want to turn those points into victories. The Patriots have lost too many games in recent years because they couldn’t hold leads against teams that they should have put away earlier in the game. And, while it used to be the job of the defense to salt away wins in the NFL, that task is too much to ask now that offenses are so good and all the rules are against them.
Instead, the way to hold off a comeback-hungry opponent is to run the ball often, and for first downs. Keeping the clock moving gets you closer to finishing off the win, and the first downs keep the other team’s offense securely on the sidelines. The Patriots could have used that today against the Dolphins, but instead they let them back into the game and then couldn’t come up with a last-minute miracle like they did last week against the Cleveland Browns.
The Patriots rushed a mere 22 times, against a whopping 55 pass attempts. That kind of discrepancy can be alright if you’re in a shootout or on the comeback trail yourself, but the game was close throughout. The Patriots would have given themselves a better chance at beating their division rival, and at the same time taking control of the AFC playoff picture, if they committed to the run game in the second half.