What, Exactly, Were the Dolphins Doing Thursday Night?

Miami is the latest team to forget how to play football when matched up against the Patriots.

Ryan Tannehill

Photo via AP

It’s hard enough to beat the Patriots when Tom Brady is on a revenge tour for the ages. But when you can’t even snap the ball or bring anybody down on defense, it’s damn near impossible.

The Patriots walloped the supposed-to-be recharged Dolphins 36-7 at Gillette Stadium Thursday night. Miami had scored 82 points over its previous two games under fiery interim head coach Dan Campbell, but failed to run a play in Patriots’ territory Thursday until there was one second remaining in the first half. The lowlight of the evening came less than one minute into the second quarter, when reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week Ryan Tannehill forgot you needed a football to play football.

Tannehill wasn’t ready for the snap from center Mike Pouncey, and the ball tumbled into the Dolphins’ end zone. He quickly fell on the ball, preventing the Patriots from picking it up for a touchdown, but it was still the easiest two points you could imagine.

It was a wretched night for Tannehill, who threw two interceptions and was sacked five times. His yearly salary is roughly $10 million more than Brady’s, by the way.

The Dolphins couldn’t advance the ball on offense and failed to stop the Patriots on defense, as Rob Gronkowski and Dion Lewis combined for 206 yards receiving and two touchdown catches. In the words of Julian Edelman, who scored two touchdowns himself, it was like eighth graders going up against kids in elementary school.

Gronkowski opened up the Patriots’ scoring with a 46-yard touchdown reception less than five minutes into the first quarter. Gronk now has 61 touchdown catches in 61 games started. Not too shabby.

But at least the Dolphins attempted to cover Gronkowski Thursday night. The same couldn’t be said for Lewis, who was left wide open in Miami’s red zone with 24 seconds left in the first half.

Then again, given Lewis’ Barry Sanders-esque spin moves, it probably doesn’t matter whether opposing defenses cover him or not. Consider this your almost weekly reminder that Lewis somehow didn’t play in an NFL game for two years prior to this season.

Seven games into the 2015 campaign, it’s clear few teams are in the Patriots’ class. But the gap between the Pats and most of their competition has arguably never been more apparent than it was Thursday night.

The Patriots showed up to play a football game. The Dolphins, meanwhile, played like they didn’t even know what football was. That’s par for the course.