10 things you might not know about the Dolphins
1. COLD RECEPTION: A team from Miami isn't supposed to do well in the frigid Northeast late in the year, but the Dolphins have enjoyed their recent late-season encounters with the Pats, winning the second meeting between the rivals in each of the last three years. That includes a Jan. 1 showdown in Foxboro in 2006. Overall, the Pats are 24-16 against the Dolphins in Foxboro, including a pair of memorable snow games - the famous 3-0 plow game in 1982 and a 12-0 win in 2003, which witnessed the debut of the snow-tossing celebrations in the stands.
2. YOU SHOULD TALK: The talk of New England running up scores has quieted with the Pats playing tighter games of late, but the Dolphins would be best served to stay silent regardless. Miami shouldn't throw any stones in its glass house, as it was as guilty as anyone back when they were actually winning games. The Dolphins' record for margin of victory was a whopping 52-0, set during their perfect season in 1972 - against the Pats.
3. TAYLOR-MADE SITUATION: Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Jason Taylor has had success against most opponents, but he seems to save his best for the Patriots. In 21 career games against New England, Taylor has 11 sacks and three of his seven career interceptions. Interestingly, he has never picked off Tom Brady, as two came against Drew Bledsoe and the other was off Matt Cassel, which he returned for a score earlier this year. He might not get a chance to pick off Brady today, as Taylor is listed as questionable with a foot injury. If he does play, he'll break Jim Langer's franchise record for consecutive games, as they are currently tied with 178 straight games played.
4. WHERE'S THE RUSH?: The Dolphins ran for a season-high 179 yards in their first meeting with the Patriots, but lost starting running back Ronnie Brown in the process, and their ground game has lost momentum since. In the last five games, Miami hasn't managed more than 77 yards in a game and averaged just 2.6 yards a carry in that span.
5. THERE'S THE RUSH: Opponents have found much more running room against the Dolphins, who rank dead last in the NFL against the run, allowing 155.9 yards a game. In their first 14 games, 10 opponents have rushed for at least 140 yards, with three topping 200. Five of the last seven teams to play against Miami have rushed for more than 160 yards. New England was one of the few teams not to pile up the yards on the ground, as the Pats had just 84 in their first meeting, though they did add 359 yards and six TDs through the air.
6. TIME'S NOT ON THEIR SIDE: The Dolphins have won the time of possession battle in just three of their first 14 games and overall rank 24th in the league with an average time of possession of just 28:43. The Pats, meanwhile, are second in the league at 32:33. Of course, that may not mean much, as one of the few times Miami held an edge was over the Pats. But an extra 10:10 with the ball didn't do much good, as New England still won 49-28.
7. AIRING IT OUT: Miami ranks fourth in the league in pass defense, but a closer look at the numbers reveals that might not be as impressive as it seems. The Dolphins may have only allowed 178.5 passing yards a game, but that's more a reflection of how easy it is to run against them than a sign of a stout passing defense. The yardage may look good, but only three teams have fewer interceptions than the Dolphins' 11 and only eight teams have fewer sacks than Miami's 27 - and that's with Taylor (team-high 10 sacks) in the lineup. The Dolphins have also given up 22 passing TDs, more than all but six other clubs.
8. RETURN TO SENDER: The Dolphins have returned more kicks than any team in the league. That's the sort of thing that happens when you're 1-13 and looking up from the wrong end of the scoreboard all year long. But all the extra reps on returns haven't helped much, as Miami is just 29th in the league, averaging an even 20 yards a return. They are ninth in punt returns (10.1 average), though just 27th in total punt returns (22) with their defense seldom stopping anyone. That might not change today, as New England has punted just 37 times all year, by far the fewest in the league.
9. CLOSE CALLS: The Dolphins' 1-13 record isn't pretty, but they actually have come pretty close on a number of occasions. Six of their losses have been by just three points, including one in overtime. Atlanta has two more wins than Miami, but has actually been outscored by 19 more points than the Dolphins.
10. LOCAL TIES: Not everyone associated with the Dolphins is deserving of scorn in New England. Miami's director of college scouting is Holliston native Chris Grier, the son of former Pats vice president/director of player personnel Bobby Grier, now with Houston as the Texans' associate director of pro scouting, and brother of current San Jose Sharks forward Mike Grier. Miami also just hired that Bill Parcells guy as its executive VP of football operations this week. New England fans might know a thing or two about him.