The 2011 NFL season started at home for the Miami Dolphins, hosting the division rival New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. And the game would prove worthy of the time slot, with fireworks from both offenses, and two quarterbacks combining for a record 906 passing yards (a record that was broken in the final week of the season when Matt Stafford and Matt Flynn combined for 1,000 yards passing). Week 1 would ultimately result in a loss for the Dolphins, but showed that the team had the potential for great things in 2011 - potential that would never be realized.
The most memorable moment from the game came from the Patriots, who shut down the Dolphins attack one-foot from the endzone. With the score, the Dolphins would have closed the 31-17 gap they were facing, and the game could have taken a different turn. Instead, the next play saw New England quarterback Tom Brady lineup in the shotgun and thrown a 25 yard pass to receiver Wes Welker. Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Welker then racked up the yards-after-the-catch, finishing the play in the endzone for a 99-yard touchdown, and a 38-17 lead for the Patriots.
Brady would finish the game 32-for-48, with 517 yards, and four touchdowns. He also threw his first interception in 358 pass atempts, an NFL record streak, when defensive end Jared Odrick snagged a deflection on the third play of the second half. Welker cought two of the Brady touchdowns, with tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski each adding one of their own. Running back Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis would add another score on the ground, while kicker Stephen Gostkowski would add a field goal.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins offense came out clicking as well, only to be overshadowed by Brady's performance. Beleaguered quarterback Chad Henne, who had to hear fans chant for a quarterback on another team's roster during training camp, threw for a career high 416 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception, along with leading the team in rushing with 59-yards and a touchdown. His two touchdown passes went to running back Reggie Bush and wide receiver Brian Hartline, while Brandon Marshall tallied 139 yards receiving on seven receptions.
Despite the success on offense, the Miami defense was a non-factor all game. The team only sacked Brady once, a Cameron Wake second quarter play, preventing the Patriots from getting to the endzone to end the half. The secondary, meanwhile, could not stop anyone or anything, including cramps in the Miami heat.
"Not the defensive performance we were hoping for," then-Miami head coach Tony Sparano said. "That's an understatement."
The game featured the second most yards of offense in league history, tallying 1,110 yards. The NFL record was set in 1950 in a game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Yanks, putting up 1,133 yards of offense.
Chad Henne. Henne, despite all of the backlash from the Miami fanbase, went out and showed that he can handle the Miami offense. Of course, it wouldn't continue like this for Henne, ultimately being hurt just three weeks later, but for at least one week, Henne was the highlight of the Dolphins.
The defense was atrocious. There was no pass rush. There was no secondary. Brady could do whatever he wanted with the ball, and there was no one there to step up and make a play. It was so bad that the defense, most notably Vontae Davis, but he wasn't the only one, were succombing to the heat, at home, in Miami. Meanwhile, the Patriots, coming down to South Florida from Boston, seemed to have no issues with the heat. It was just an ugly, ugly performance by the Miami defense.