Patriots Defensive Preparation Pays Off, Limits Brandon Marshall to Five Receptions

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Patriots Defensive Preparation Pays Off, Limits Brandon Marshall to Five Receptions MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Brandon Marshall will probably be the toughest matchup of any wide receiver the Patriots face all season.

What he might not have realized, though, was that the Patriots were going to return that favor with a hellish game plan of their own.

It certainly worked during the Patriots' 41-14 drubbing of the Dolphins on Monday night, as Marshall was limited to five receptions for for 50 yards. He was hardly a game breaker, and he couldn’t make those possession catches that spark drives, either.

"It feels great. We worked our butts off earlier in the week trying to prepare for him," Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington said. "I can't tell you how gratifying it is to play the way we played, especially in the second half."

The Patriots threw a number of different things at Marshall, whether they played straight coverage on him with Arrington or cornerback Devin McCourty, or doubled him over the top with safeties Patrick Chung or Brandon Meriweather. The Pats also chipped Marshall at the line with linebacker Tully Banta-Cain, who then let a defensive back sit on Marshall's route. And they played him straight up with Chung and Meriweather at times, too.

This was no vanilla game plan, and the Patriots' aggression toward Marshall was a change of pace with how they've defended big-play wide receivers this season.

"It's always good when you can limit a guy like that," Chung said. "He's a great dude. He can catch the ball. He's fast. He can break tackles. If you can limit him, it's going to help you a lot in the game."

Marshall caught eight passes for 64 yards and two touchdowns when his Broncos beat the Patriots in 2009, and he recorded a ruckus 21-catch, 200-yard, two-score performance against the Colts later in the season. Simply put, the guy can kill teams.

Yet, the Patriots limited Marshall to his lowest yardage output of 2010, and he also had his second-fewest receptions in four games. Most impressive, they held him to zero catches on one target in the first half, so the majority of his damage came after the Patriots put the game out of reach.

It was an all-or-nothing, old-school Patriots-type of approach to rip away an opposing team's most dangerous target, and it worked to perfection. That’s the type of defensive game plan that should yield even more optimism about the young unit going forward.

"Any time you can disrupt [Marshall] from getting off the line and keeping him from getting open, it's definitely going to pull [quarterback Chad] Henne's read off and make him go somewhere else," Banta-Cain said. "He's their go-to guy, and we basically felt like if he can't beat us, that leaves it to somebody else to try to beat us. That was something we talked about all week, and I thought we did a good job executing."

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