MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) One week in, the AFC East has a decidedly different look than usual.
The New York Jets, 1-0.
And New England – looking up at everyone else.
Sure, it’s only one week, there’s 15 more games to go, and the Patriots still would probably be an overwhelming pick to win the division title if prognosticators were going to prognosticate even after seeing the slate of opening results. But the Dolphins certainly showed some areas where the Patriots aren’t exactly perfect, with a dazzling second-half display carrying Miami to a come-from-behind 33-20 win on Sunday.
”Give them a lot of credit,” Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said of the Dolphins, who basically were without all three of their envisioned starting linebackers all day. ”They dealt with a lot of injuries and were pretty mentally tough. We’ve got to learn from it and get back to work. No one’s going to feel sorry for us. The guys in the room have to dig deep and see if we can go out and get a win next week.”
It was New England’s first Week 1 loss since 2003, and it’s the first time since Week 3 of the 2012 season that the Patriots didn’t have at least a share of first place in the AFC East.
Miami’s new-look offense was clicking nicely in the second half, when the Dolphins held edges of 222-67 in yards and 23-0 in points to erase what was a 20-10 deficit at halftime.
Knowshon Moreno rushed for 134 yards and a big fourth-quarter touchdown for Miami, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw touchdown passes to Lamar Miller and Mike Wallace. After getting sacked 93 times in his first two seasons, the Patriots got Tannehill down only once Sunday.
”That Ryan was upright most of the game was big for us,” Wallace said.
Brady threw for 249 yards, including a touchdown to Rob Gronkowski. Shane Vereen also had a touchdown run for the Patriots.
Here’s some of what was learned in Miami’s win:
PATRIOT LINE WOES: Logan Mankins was traded in a move that surprised some people just before the regular season, and it sure seemed like the New England offensive line could have used a little bit of veteran savvy on Sunday. Brady was sacked four times, not the best way to take care of a 37-year-old quarterback.
DOLPHINS BACKFIELD: Lamar Miller was Miami’s starting running back Sunday. He might not start for long. Miller was solid – 11 rushes for 59 yards, four catches for 19 yards – but Moreno was the story in his Miami debut. The last Miami rusher to have more yards in a game than Moreno did Sunday was Reggie Bush, who ran for 172 yards against Oakland on Sept. 16, 2012.
MIAMI DEPTH: The Dolphins were planning to start Philip Wheeler, Koa Misi and Dannell Ellerbe at linebacker on Sunday. Wheeler was ruled out days before the game, and Misi and Ellerbe combined to play a total of about two quarters before succumbing to injuries. But going with a 5-2 front for much of the game, partly because they were just short on bodies, the Dolphins found a way to handle the issue. ”The guys played like a team,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said.
BRADY NUMBERS: Brady threw 56 passes on Sunday, the third-most of his career. It bears noting that the Patriots are 0-3 in those games, the other two of those contests coming during the 2002 season. And while it’s not uncommon for the Pats to be more pass-reliant in their offense, a 56-to-20 pass-to-rush ratio likely isn’t what New England coach Bill Belichick envisioned when the game plan was being put together.
ROOKIE IMPACT: Miami rookie LB Chris McCain said he felt like he was having an out-of-body experience in the opening minutes, confessing that he ”didn’t know what I was doing out there” as the game started. Bear in mind, he blocked a punt on the game’s first series. Miami has 13 rookies currently on its roster, the team’s most in that department since 1979. ”I’m proud of the young guys,” said Dolphins DE Olivier Vernon, he sounding like a wise old veteran – at all of 23 years old.
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