MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- The New England Patriots clinched home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs with their 35-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, and unveiled their new offensive weapon in the process.
Hello, Michael Floyd.
The wide receiver made his presence felt in multiple ways -- first on an impressive touchdown catch in which he powered through four defenders on a 14-yard first-quarter score, and then with a thunderous downfield block to help Julian Edelman race away on a 77-yard touchdown in the second half on a game-turning play.
"Obviously the touchdown was huge, but that block he made, everyone on the bench went crazy," safety Devin McCourty said.
This was the definition of sudden impact, considering Floyd has been with the Patriots for only 18 days, his story well-documented as the Arizona Cardinals waived him Dec. 14 following a DUI arrest in which police recorded his blood alcohol level at 0.217 percent.
"I'm in a good place. I'm not looking back at the past. It's all about moving forward and I'm glad that I'm here, with the people around me," Floyd said after the game. "I feel wanted and that's a good feeling."
The Patriots were the only team to claim Floyd, paying him a hefty sum just shy of $1.3 million for three regular-season games. With Super Bowl aspirations, they were obviously thinking beyond the regular season with their acquisition of the first-round pick from 2012.
By playing 50 of 69 snaps against the Dolphins on Sunday and finishing with three catches for 36 yards, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Floyd showed that he can be a significant contributor for the Patriots in the postseason.
"He's tough. He's physical. He can be in the room any time I'm here. I like him," Edelman said. "He has been here for two weeks and to make an impact like he has just shows that he's a mentally tough guy."
Floyd's presence was especially important against the Dolphins because top-three receiver Malcolm Mitchell (knee) was out, as was No. 4 pass-catcher Danny Amendola (ankle) for the fourth straight week.
That left the Patriots with just Edelman, Chris Hogan and Floyd as pure receivers on their roster, and that has been a position in which the club has been thin all season, carrying just four players.
This is why some in the Patriots’ organization were so excited when Floyd unexpectedly became available in mid-December, as it was a position of need, and Floyd was probably going to be on their free-agent target list after the season anyway, even given a legal situation with the DUI arrest. So the Patriots’ thinking essentially was, “Why not start the process now?”
When I asked Floyd a few days ago whether he’d thought about a potential return with the Patriots in 2017, he smiled and said he was so committed to learning the playbook that he didn’t have time to think about anything else. He has been living in a hotel near Gillette Stadium, and he said that if he’s not there, he’s at the stadium.
His hard work showed on Sunday.
And it looks like it will benefit the Patriots in a big way in the playoffs.