The Patriots defeated the Dolphins 35-17, extending their winning streak to seven games. Their record now stands at 9-2, firmly atop the AFC East.
In a similar manner to the opening act in Denver a few weeks back, the Patriots offense looked lifeless on its first three plays of the game, only to be bailed out by a special teams breakdown by the opponent.
This time, however, it was more a case of execution by New England. The Patriots lined up in punt formation facing fourth-and-8 from their own 27-yard line. Nate Ebner, lined up as the personal protector in the backfield, received the direct snap and ran 14 yards around the right end to pick up the first down and extend the drive.
New England scored four plays later on a Rex Burkhead 2-yard touchdown run, but the fallout from the fake punt wasn’t without a hitch. Ebner injured his knee on the play and headed straight to the locker room, where he was ruled out for the remainder of the game.
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The Patriots got their next two touchdowns on Brady passes to Rob Gronkowski and Burkhead.
The offensive line, absent starters Marcus Cannon and David Andrews, was off to a rough start. Both LaAdrian Waddle and Nate Solder incurred false start penalties; Waddle, filling in for Cannon at right tackle, had been solid in relief of Cannon the last several weeks but has struggled with Miami defensive end Cameron Wake.
Ted Karras, filling in for Andrews at center, committed the costliest mistake. He snapped the ball to Brady out of the shotgun prior the quarterback being ready, leading to a free-for-all to the ball in which Brady hit the ground vying for the ball along with a pair of Dolphins defenders. Brady emerged from the pile with nothing more than a scrape on his elbow, but Reshad Jones scooped the ball and scored to get Miami on the board.
Pressure on Brady has been coming from all angles. He’s been hit four times already and his interception to Bobby McCain was caused at least in part by a lack of comfort in the pocket. Brady was forced to move up in the pocket on the throw and rather than biding his time to find an open receiver, threw to a well-covered Danny Amendola for his third pick of the season.
The Dolphins had a chance to get within a score at the end of the half, but Stephon Gilmore picked off Matt Moore in the end zone with seven seconds left in the half.
The Dolphins last won in New England in 2008 against the Matt Cassel-led Patriots that featured the breakout of the Wildcat formation. Brady’s only loss at home vs. Miami came in Week 17 of the 2005 season, a game in which the Patriots already had the AFC East locked up and were jockeying for the Jacksonville Jaguars as a wild-card opponent. Brady played only eight snaps in that game.
The Dolphins will receive the second half kickoff after deferring the off the opening coin toss.