James Dudko on the weekend's NFL action...
They also saw the Dallas Cowboys throw away a 23-point lead thanks to poor play-calling, something that should no longer come as a surprise.
Finally, the Pittsburgh Steelers kept their faint playoff hopes alive by besting a fierce division rival.
Here are the main takeaways from that action:
The moment they lost "joker" tight end Rob Gronkowski for the season, the New England Patriots' hopes for a fourth Super Bowl title were as good as doomed.
So it proved on the road in Miami, where Tom Brady and his offense missed Gronkowski's skill in the red zone. Of the four trips New England made inside the 20-yard line, they came away with just one touchdown.
That's a 25 percent success rate in the red zone. If Brady had Gronkowski's 6'6", 265-pound frame to aim for things would have been very different.
In the end he had three chances to win the game from the Dolphins 14. He was incomplete on two throws, before the third was intercepted to end the game.
It was too easy to assume that Brady and Bill Belichick could simply compensate for losing for Gronkowski with schemes. No matter how they try and cover it, their offense doesn't pose anywhere near its usual threat without Gronkowski causing headaches for defensive coordinators.
The Cowboys blew a 23-point lead, mainly due to their unwillingness to run the ball to kill the clock in the second half. In the aftermath of this dismal collapse, the focus has been on the unbalanced play-calling of head coach Jason Garrett.
It isn't the first time Garrett and the Cowboys have been guilty of abandoning the run. His play-calling has always been skewed heavily toward the pass.
It was the same when he was offensive coordinator under Wade Phillips and hasn't changed since he became head coach. Don't count on it changing now either, even after the disaster against the Packers.
The pressure is on Andy Dalton to become a more rounded quarterback in his third season. But that won't happen until the Cincinnati Bengals starter proves he can beat the blitz.
Against the Steelers on Sunday night, he struggled against a myriad of pressures sent by legendary defensive guru Dick LeBeau. Dalton rarely had an answer, as blitzers came from base 3-4 and dime defensive looks.
With pressure around him, many of his passes were high and wide. He also made little adjustment to target hot reads behind the blitz.
Dalton's struggles against pressure have cost Cincinnati in the playoffs the last two years. If the Bengals are going to go further in the postseason this time, they'll need their young quarterback to prove he can beat the blitz.
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