Final, Patriots 38-24: What a crazy night in Miami. I'll have plenty of postgame stuff, including Tom Brady's night, the defense's work on Davone Bess and Brandon Marshall, Brady's reliance on the tight ends and much more so stay with NESN.com for all of your Patriots news and analysis.
Fourth quarter, 1:15, Patriots 38-24: Remember when Chad Henne threw for 400 yards in this game? That will be a trivia question some day.
Fourth quarter, 3:39, Patriots 38-24: Reggie Bush caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne, but there were vewy few Dolphins fans in attendance to witness it. This place has been emptying out all quarter.
Tom Brady's 511 yards are currently the sixth most in a single game in history. Norm Van Brocklin set the record with 554 in a game in 1951.
Fourth quarter, 5:44, Patriots 38-17: Wow, you just never know when you're going to see some history. Tom Brady hit Wes Welker for a 99-yard touchdown pass, as Welker broke free from Benny Sapp and raced untouched down the field. The whole stadium knew the touchdown was going to happen when Welker still had 70 yards to go. And it also gave Brady 511 passing yards, which is his personal best, a franchise record and a Monday Night Football record.
Fourth quarter, 5:57, Patriots 31-17: Remember when the Patriots crushed the Dolphins' offensive line on the first play of their last goal-to-go situaion? Well, the Dolphins threw it on fourth-and-1 when they needed about four feet. They also went after Ras-I Dowling, and his height might have forced Chad Henne to sail the ball over Brian Hartline.
Fourth quarter, 8:48, Patriots 31-17: Tom Brady tried to hit Matthew Slater with another deep pass, this time down the left sideline. Slater beat Vontae Davis yet again, but he's just not a polished wide receiver. I think, as much as anything, it shows just how difficult it is to catch a ball over your shoulder like that.
I don't want to say Slater is going to be a secret weapon and will have an opportunity to catch 20-30 balls this year, because it's just not likely. Really, if that did happen, it would be because someone important got seriously injured. But there's no book on Slater the receiver, and his speed will absolutely catch cornerbacks off guard when used in this role.
Fourth quarter, 11:02, Patriots 31-17: Stephen Gostkowski made a 20-yard field goal after the Patriots couldn't punch it in on a goal-to-go situation. Interestingly, on the failed third down, Dane Fletcher checked in at fullback for the second time, and Tom Brady tried to hit him with a touchdown strike. But Reshad Jones stayed with Fletcher and easily knocked it aside.
Bill Belichick got screamed at by the line judge after he ran down to the 5-yard line to get a better view of the spot aftter the Pats called timeout on third down. Belichick and the line judge kept yelling at each other as Belichick walked back to the coaches' box. It was like a good ol' manager-umpire argument.
Fourth quarter, 14:37, Patriots 28-17: The Patriots have a chance to put this one to rest, as they've taken over at the 36 after another Miami punt.
Dan Koppen is on the sidelines on crutches with a walking boot on his left foot. Kevin Faulk immediately went over to talk to him, and Matt Slater briefly walked over to say something.
End of third quarter, Patriots 28-17: I've said it a couple times already, but it's been huge for the Patriots to answer all three of the Dolphins' scoring drives with touchdowns of their own. It's just so deflating for any team, especially an underdog at home.
Third quarter, 0:10, Patriots 28-17: Aaron Hernandez made it rain. His first touchdown was wiped off the board, but Tom Brady went back to him on the next play and hit him for a wide-open touchdown on a baseline route. By the way, Dane Fletcher lined up at fullback on the scoring play, and he and BenJarvus Green-Ellis double-teamed Cameron Wake.
Third quarter, 0:19, Patriots 21-17: The officials are reviewing a potential Aaron Hernandez touchdown, but it looks like it's coming off the board because Sean Smith made contact with Hernandez's foot before he glided into the end zone. Even still, the Patriots are on their way to answering the third Dolphins' score of the game.
The Dolphins announced their top cornerback, Vontae Davis, is cramping, and his return is questionable. That would be about the equivalent of the Patriots losing Devin McCourty.
Third quarter, 3:36, Patriots 21-17: The Dolphins chipped away with a 20-yard field goal. New England's tackling broke down after two and a half impressive quarters in that department, notably when Devin McCourty and Jerod Mayo whiffed on Brandon Marshall's 22-yard catch and run.
The Patriots were great on their goal-line stand, though, crushing the line of scrimmage on a first-down run and then getting two good plays from McCourty and Ras-I Dowling. McCourty jumped a pass for Marshall and nearly made a spectacular interception, but as the ball was bobbling around, Patrick Chung inadvertently knocked it loose. On the next play, the Dolphins moved Marshall to Dowling's side, and Henne tried to hit him with a two-yard out-route. Dowling was all over him, and the throw was a little shorter than desired, causing it to pop out as Marshall hit the ground.
Third quarter, 8:23, Patriots 21-14: The Patriots have answered both of the Dolphins' touchdowns with TD drives of their own, which is huge for momentum on the road. The drive started shaky, as the protection was a little scarce and Brady was moving around with some quick feet. He overthrew BenJarvus Green-Ellis over the middle, and Green-Ellis had tons of open field to work with, potentially looking at a 30-yard gain.
As the Patriots regained their composure, the moved it into the red zone, and Brady hit Wes Welker with an easy touchdown pass on third-and-goal from the 2. Welker ran a simpe out-route, as cornerback Nolan Carroll basically sold out on an inside pattern. There was no contest.
Third quarter, 12:29, 14-14: The Dolphins made quick work there, as Chad Henne hit Brian Hartline with a bullet to the chest for a 10-yard touchdown. Game on.
Third quarter, 13:13, Patriots 14-7: The Patriots crossed midfield, but things came to an end when Tom Brady's pass to Julian Edelman in the left flat was knocked into the air by Sean Smith and intercepted by Jared Odrick, who returned it to the 9-yard line. Brady's regular-season interception-free streak ended at 358 attempts.
Third quarter, 14:54, Patriots 14-7: Dan Koppen was seen walking out in crutches, and his left ankle was taped. And the second half is under way after Julian Edelman's kickoff return to the 37.
Halftime, Patriots 14-7: It was a good half for the Patriots, who looked pretty fluid on offense for the most part, though they succumbed to a late pass rush and Tom Brady missed on several downfield throws. The plays have been there, which is the good sign for them.
The big story of the half, though, is the left knee injury for Dan Koppen. There hasn't been any word from the team, and I wouldn't expect anything too soon. But players who get carted off — especially ones who are as tough as Koppen — generally don't make quick recoveries. It's an even worse sign with the knee.
Second quarter, 0:02, Patriots 14-7: Stephen Gostkowski badly pushed a 48-yard field-goal attempt before the half. He doesn't miss that badly too often. More than anything, Cameron Wake sabotaged that drive. He was huge on the last two plays and sacked Brady on the last play from scrimmage.
Second quarter, 0:40, Patriots 14-7: What an awful stretch for injuries. Jason Taylor's left ankle just bent in a direction that ankles shouldn't bend.
Second quarter, 1:09, Patriots 14-7: Center Dan Koppen was carted off the field with a left knee injury after he was buckled over in the pile. Just one of those tough breaks that happens at the line of scrimmage, as he got caught up with linemen all around him. Koppen is responsible for the calls at the line, and he's one of the league's most valuable centers. That's a brutal loss for the Patriots.
Dan Connolly will take over at center, and he's comfortable at that position. Connolly was taking snaps there pregame.
This means Brian Waters will have to finish the game at right guard, and that will be a tough task for him after sitting out the preseason and practicing for just a week.
Second quarter, 2:00, Patriots 14-7: As soon as I touted Leigh Bodden for his work on Davone Bess, he was switched over to Brandon Marshall, and Bess caught a pass for 26 yards. Of course, Bodden shadowed him for the rest of the series.
Albert Haynesworth has only stuck out to make one solid play — a one-armed tackle on Reggie Bush after fighting off a double team — but he has drawn two holding penalties on Richie Incognito. The little things can make Haynesworth the impact player that he's always been.
Second quarter, 5:14, Patriots 14-7: The Dolphins went three-and-out on the shadow of their goal line, and the Patriots' pressure has been improving throughout the game. Credit the defensive line, but they've sent a linebacker here and there. I'm also impressed with the coverage on Davone Bess. Leigh Bodden has gotten a good amount of time on him, and the cornerback has been winning those battles.
Second quarter, 6:34, Patriots 14-7: The Pats had to punt, but Zoltan Mesko pulled the string to pin the 'Phins to their own 4. It was New England's first punt, and Tom Brady gambled with a few downfield throws that fell to the turf. An early attempt fell out of Welker's hands after Nate Solder destroyed Cam Wake, helping Brady hold onto the ball for nearly 10 full seconds. Four seconds is a lot of time. Ten seconds can be enough to make a sandwich.
Mike Wright was receiving some medical attention on the bench for an unknown issue. He got up and walked around so it doesn't look too serious.
Brian Waters was back in at right guard, so he has played two of the three series.
Chad Ochocinco is pretty much nowhere to be found. He's barely even on the field.
Second quarter, 10:34, Patriots 14-7: The Patriots stressed tackling all week long, especially in regard to Reggie Bush and Brandon Marshall, and they've done an excellent job so far. I don't think they've missed a single tackle near the sidelines, where Bush and Marshall earn their money. They've also nabbed Bush in the flat on two consecutive third-down stops.
Julian Edelman made a nice return on the last punt, taking it 16 yards, but he's still going to hear it from the coaching staff about taking a punt out of the end zone, which goes against the special teams rulebook. Unless it's a rare situation — when the punting team is continuously downing the ball inside the 5 — punt returners aren't supposed to field the ball inside the 8, as a general rule. While Edelman saved some face, he still cost the team four yards, and it could have been worse.
Second quarter, 14:09, Patriots 14-7: Just like we've seen throughout training camp, the Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski connection in the red zone is simply too easy for the Patriots. Cameron Wake didn't chip Gronkowski off the ball, and the tight end ran an out-route past cornerback Benny Sapp, which is a matchup that doesn't make much sense at all. Vontae Davis was in the area, too, but he was too late to get to Gronkowski on the zone coverage.
I think the Dolphins are making a mistake by lining up Wake over Nate Solder, who is built to handle athleticism more than power at this point in his career. That leaves Jason Taylor on Matt Light, a matchup that historically favors Taylor, but I think Taylor's veteran savvy would be tougher on Solder in his first career start.
End of first quarter, 7-7: Chad Ochocinco's debut could have been better. He was flagged for lining up illegally, wiping out a 41-yard pass to Rob Gronkowski. File that under the "inexcusable penalty" category.
Dan Connolly is in at right guard on this series. Brian Waters doesn't appear to be injured, but there's simply no way his conditioning is up to par to handle a full game after just one week of practice.
First quarter, 2:03, 7-7: The Patriots start their second drive on their 35 after a nifty punt return from Julian Edelman. The Patriots forced a three-and-out, which was no easy task since Reggie Bush got the ball three times, including twice in the flat. Very strong tackling there, including the third-down stop by Rob Ninkovich.
First quarter, 4:14, 7-7: The Patriots answered, and it almost looked easy. BenJarvus Green-Ellis fought off a couple tackle attempts by spinning and diving his way to a four-yard touchdown run.
The Patriots have two new starters on the right side of the line — Brian Waters at right guard and Nate Solder at right tackle — but they ran to the right side during all three of their rushing attempts. It's also no coincidence that Cam Wake was on that side during the possession. The book on Wake, at least behind the scenes, is that everyone will rave about his pass-rush ability, but he can't cover or play impressively against the run.
Interesting to see Matt Slater get an early opportunity, as he caught a 46-yard pass on a deep post pattern. Brady sold the play-action, which was set up with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in tight on the right side, and Slater out-raced Vontae Davis.
First quarter, 7:28, Dolphins 7-0: Julian Edelman returned the kickoff to the New England 22, and Brian Waters started at right guard. The Patriots have Dan Connolly and Thomas Welch on the bench for offensive linemen.
First quarter, 7:42, Dolphins 7-0: Chad Henne capped off an impressive 84-yard drive with a perfectly executed nine-yard draw up the middle. The Patriots only had five players between the tackles, and I have to believe that's a read Henne made at the line. Center Mike Pouncey shot off the ball and immediately blocked Jerod Mayo out of the gap, giving Henne the lane to get into the end zone. Nice call, nice recognition, nice execution.
First quarter, 9:05, 0-0: Ras-I Dowling got the start at right cornerback, leaving Leigh Bodden and Kyle Arrington on the bench, and Josh Barrett started over Sergio Brown at safety next to Patrick Chung. Mike Wright also started at defensive tackle over Albert Haynesworth.
Haynesworth was subbed in on fourth-and-1, but Dolphins running back Lex Hilliard ran through Haynesworth's gap to get the first down. The Patriots have collapsed the pocket around Chad Henne, but they haven't disrupted him enough as he's gotten the Dolphins to first-and-goal on the 1 due to a beautiful throw and catch to Anthony Fasano.
First quarter, 14:56, 0-0: Clyde Gates returned the opening kickoff to the Miami 16-yard line and the Dolphins are in business.
7:10 p.m.: The Patriots called tails and lost the toss, and the Dolphins elected to receive the opening kickoff. Albert Haynesworth, you're up.
7:03 p.m.: The Patriots ran onto the field to a chorus of boos, while the Dolphins were introduced to a stream of fireworks. There's smoke everywhere. If fireworks and a big production are your thing, you'd like this display.
7:00 p.m.: Here's a lot more analysis on the Patriots' first inactive list of the season.
6:42 p.m.: The Patriots have departed for the locker room for a final word from Bill Belichick. When they return in a few moments, their 2011 season will be under way.
6:36 p.m.: Brian Waters was the first player to take snaps at right guard during pregame warmups with the first-team offensive line, but Dan Connolly also took some reps. The starter at right guard remains as the biggest personnel mystery at this point.
5:45 p.m.: That sound you hear is Albert Haynesworth waking up and preparing for the regular-season opener.
5:43 p.m.: Shane Vereen, Brandon Spikes and Ryan Mallett are the Patriots' last three inactives for the season opener. Vereen was warming up before the game, but he's obviously not ready for a full regular-season game at this point.
5:30 p.m.: The Patriots have announced that tackle Thomas Welch has been activated from the practice squad, and linebacker Jeff Tarpinian has been released. I'm not sure if the idea is to put him on injured reserve, but he'll have to clear waivers for that to happen.
5:20 p.m.: Tackle Thomas Welch is on the field warming up, and ESPN has reported Welch was activated from the practice squad. He will be the team's backup tackle against the Dolphins. Now, it's time to see who is the roster casualty.
5:06 p.m.: Cornerback Leigh Bodden is warming up on the field, and the good news is he's not wearing a cast on his right hand. He had one over his right thumb Friday. Just a guess, but I'm sure he'll have it wrapped under his glove during the game.
5:00 p.m.: Still no sign of Albert Haynesworth, not that it means anything. And because Haynesworth only played in one preseason game, I don't even know what his pregame routine is. For example, Tom Brady hardly ever warms up before the entire team takes the field for their official stretch and warmups.
Side note, Danny Woodhead and Tedy Bruschi shared an exchange in the end zone, and both walked away from each other laughing.
4:50 p.m.: Running back Stevan Ridley is working out on the field without a trainer, so it looks like he's ready to go after battling through an ankle injury.
Julian Edelman was speaking with special teams coordinator Scott O'Brien earlier in the end zone. Maybe the location of it was a coincidence, but I think Edelman is the top candidate to return kickoffs now that Brandon Tate is gone.
4:38 p.m.: Myron Pryor is working out with a trainer, which is noteworthy because he popped up on Saturday's injury report with a groin issue. Also interesting, he's wearing his jersey over a T-shirt and shorts. Players never work out with their jerseys on, so I wonder if it's a tactic to sweat a little more.
It's hot here by New England standards, but it's the coolest day since I got here Saturday, which was disgustingly humid. Still, Kevin Faulk and Shane Vereen are drenched on the field, so the heat will still be a factor. One thing in everyone's favor: Most of the game will be played after the sun goes down.
4:23 p.m.: Rookies Ryan Mallett and Shane Vereen have been doing some jogging around the field, and the three specialists — Stephen Gostkowski, Zoltan Mesko and Danny Aiken — have also emerged to play catch on the field.
4:19 p.m.: In a very interesting development, Kevin Faulk made the trip to Miami with the Patriots and is stretching on the field with strength and conditioning coach Harold Nash. Faulk is on the PUP list, at least through Week 6, so he can't play. However, it's an obvious sign of how much his presence means to head coach Bill Belichick. And because he's working out, I think it's a strong indication that Faulk is not just around for the ride this season. He'll be contributing down the line.
1:20 p.m.: The weather has cooled off a bit in Fort Lauderdale, at least for the time being. The area was hit with some nasty thunderstorms late this morning, and it's still raining a little. The humidity has dropped, which is important from the Patriots' perspective after a cooler week in New England. It was disgustingly humid here Saturday night, but it wasn't as bad Sunday, so things are trending in that direction.
The Patriots have already ruled out right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, wide receiver Taylor Price, offensive lineman Ryan Wendell and linebacker Jeff Tarpinian for Monday night's game. Those five did not travel with the team. The other two inactive players will be announced at 5:30 p.m.
With Vollmer and Wendell out, the Patriots only have six offensive linemen on the active roster. Rookie Nate Solder will start at right tackle, and either Dan Connolly or Brian Waters will start at right guard. Since the Patriots don't have any backup tackles ready for this game, I wouldn't be surprised if they brought Thomas Welch along for the trip. To activate him from the practice squad, they'd have to release someone else. I wonder if that would make Tarpinian or A.J. Edds expendable. Either way, it would be a huge risk to enter a game with one backup lineman.
8 a.m. ET: Now, it's the Patriots' turn. After a full Sunday of NFL action, the Pats open their season under the Monday night lights in Miami, and they'll be at the center of the football universe.
The season opener has been a long time coming for every team after the lockout, and the excitement is always heightened on Monday night. While the Patriots' roster is much more loaded than Miami's, it's going to be a tough test for the Pats. The heat and humidity will be a challenge after a chilly week up north, and the Dolphins tend to give New England a tough go of it in their home stadium.
Stay with NESN.com's live blog throughout the day. We'll be bunkered down early at Sun Life Stadium in anticipation for the 7 p.m. kickoff.
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