While the Patriots have gained two-thirds of their yardage through the air, they rank sixth in the NFL in rushing. Stevan Ridley needs 61 yards to reach 1,000, and he’s averaging 4.6 per carry.
The Patriots have won their past five games, and during the streak they’ve committed only two turnovers — while coming up with 16 takeaways. The ball-hawking defense has helped New England average nearly 44 points per game during the winning streak.
“Complementary football is always important for us,” Brady said. “And I think that’s what happens: You make a great play on defense and get us the ball and, bam, you capitalize on it with points.”
While the Patriots have given up more yards than all but five teams, they rank second in the NFL with 32 takeaways, including a league-high 18 fumble recoveries. Defensive end Rob Ninkovich said there’s nothing magical about their ability to force fumbles.
“It comes down to just fundamentals,” he said. “You always talk about, ‘Get a guy to the ball, and then get another guy to strip the ball out.’ So first man in is the tackle guy; the second man in is the strip guy. So that’s just fundamental stuff that you hear from when you’re in pee wee.”
The Dolphins played pee wee, too, but they lack the knack. Last year they totaled three fumble recoveries, the fewest in the league. This year their opponents have 16 fumbles, but Miami has recovered only three.
“The ball isn’t shaped too well to predict where it’s going to roll,” Miami defensive end Jared Odrick said. “Balls that have hit the ground, you see us all hustling to them trying to make the play. It’s a little frustrating.”
Over the past four seasons, the Dolphins rank last in the NFL with 70 takeaways. They have none in the past four games.