MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty spent a good chunk of Monday night's season opener lined up in single coverage with Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
When the Patriots' 38-24 victory was in the books, McCourty called it one of the best battles he's ever encountered.
Marshall got his numbers, finishing with seven receptions (on 13 targets) for 139 yards. However, he was held somewhat in check with four catches for 80 yards through three quarters. Like Marshall, a lot of Miami's numbers came after the game was well in hand in the fourth quarter.
McCourty, a 2010 Pro Bowler and 2011 captain, has evolved into one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Despite Marshall's contributions, the Patriots' ability to single up Marshall was huge for their defense because they could concentrate on containing wide receiver Davone Bess and running back Reggie Bush, who help keep the Dolphins' offense in more of a rhythm.
"That was one of the best battles I think I've had in my short career here," McCourty said. "Opening night, how hot it was out there, how many snaps we played, just going head to head with that guy, how physical he is, and how they look for him so much in their offense. That was one of the best battles, and I just kept telling myself, 'Keep competing, keep going out there and competing against him.'"