The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots completed the first of their two 2017 regular season contests on Sunday. New England would overpower the Dolphins throughout the game, finishing with a 35-17 victory.
First Half Recap
The Patriots received the opening kick, picking up just one yard on their first three plays, with Tom Brady throwing incomplete passes on first- and third-downs. However, after appearing it would be a three-and-out to start the game for New England, a fake on the punt picked up the first down and kept the drive alive. The Patriots offense then found its rhythm using Dion Lewis, who picked up 13 yards, Phillip Dorsett, who was wide open for a 39-yard reception, Lewis again for five yards, and Rex Burkhead, who punched the ball into the endzone on a two-yard run.
Patriots touchdown. NE 7-0.
The Dolphins would go three-and-out on their first possession, with Matt Moore finding DeVante Parker for five yards and Damien Williams for three yards on three pass attempts.
New England would resume where they left off the previous possession, with Lewis picking up 22 yards on first down. Brady threw an out pass to Lewis on the next play, picking up just one yard. On 2nd-and-9, Brady found Danny Amendola for 15 yards. Three plays later, Brady was able to avoid Cameron Wake, who got a hand on the quarterback but could not complete the sack, and found Rob Gronkowski for 21 yards. He then found Gronkowski again for 20 more yards, before ending the drive two plays later with another pass to Gronkowski, this time for five yards and a score.
Patriots touchdown. NE 14-0.
The Dolphins began to move the ball on their second possession, down 14 points with five minutes remaining in the first quarter. After a 12-yard gain on a short pass to Williams, the Dolphins saw the play negated by a block in the back from Jarvis Landry. Williams then picked up eight yards on the replayed first down, followed by a loss of one from Kenyan Drake, before Moore scrambled for seven yards and a first down. After no gain from Williams, Moore found Landry for nine yards. After no gain by Drake up the middle on third down, Miami converted on a two-yard run by Williams on fourth down. Moore then ran for two yards and Drake picked up another three yards. After an incomplete pass by Moore, the Dolphins were forced to punt after an 11-play, 27-yard drive.
New England then picked up 13 yards on a Brady to Brandon Cooks pass. After a false start backed up New England five yards, Cooks picked up another 11 yards, this time on an end around. On 2nd-and-4, the Patriots snapped the ball prior to Brady being ready for it, with Reshad Jones able to pick it up and run into the endzone.
Dolphins touchdown. NE 14-7.
New England immediately responded, picking up eight yards on a Brady to Lewis pass, then using a couple of holding penalties on the Dolphins to move up to their own 44-yard line with a first down. After a false start on 3rd-and-9, the Dolphins defense appeared to be in position to end the drive, but Brady found Cooks for 37 yards on 3rd-and-14. Burkhead then picked up 22 yards on the ground before scoring on a short pass two plays later.
Patriots touchdown. NE 21-7.
Miami finally found some offense, in part because of a deep pass interference penalty on the drive. After Drake picked up three yards on first down, Miami picked up a first down with a pass from Moore to Landry for seven yards. Drake then picked up another four yards, followed by a 15-yard gain on a pass from Moore to Landry. Williams then picked up two yards before a flea flicker, with Moore looking for Stills deep. Malcolm Butler was called for pass interference on the play, giving Miami 34 yards. After a shovel pass attempt from Moore to Landry gained no yards, Moore threw two incomplete passes and Miami would settle for a 28-yard field goal from Cody Parkey.
Dolphins field goal. NE 21-10.
On first down, Brady would find Gronkowski for 21 yards, giving New England the ball near midfield. After an incomplete pass, Brady found Dwayne Allen for two yards, then, as Cameron Wake pressured Brady, the quarterback threw the ball behind his receiver, with Bobby McCain coming up with the interception.
Drake picked up 13 yards for the Dolphins on first down. After a one-yard loss from Drake on the next play, Miami picked up 14 yards on a pass from Moore to Landry. Williams then added nine yards on the ground as the Dolphins began to milk the clock to make sure New England would not get another possession. Williams picked up five more yards on 2nd-and-1. After a sack, Moore found Landry for 15 yards, followed by a spike on 1st-and-10 to set up Miami with 17 seconds remaining. Moore then looked toward Parker in the endzone, but floated the pass and it was picked off.
New England downed the ball to end the half.
First Half Reactions
The Dolphins were simply outmatched in the first half - which should not be overly surprising given the state of the team coming into the game. The defense did enough to keep the team in the game, including Jones’ touchdown and McCain’s interception. The offense has to find a way to get a rhythm going, and the defense needs to do more to slow down the Patriots’ attack. If not for the botched snap and a great play from McCain, the Patriots could be blowing this game wide open.
Second Half Recap
Miami received the opening kickoff of the second half, but would go three-and-out, choosing to punt rather than go for it on 4th-and-Inches. Dolphins running back Senorise Perry and Patriots linebacker Trevor Reilly were injured during the kickoff, with Perry entering the concussion protocol.
The Dolphins nearly came away with the ball on the punt, as Amendola muffed the return thanks to a perfectly timed hit by Walt Aikens. Somehow, the referees ruled that the Patriots recovered the ball, despite Aikens having his hands on it and Michael Thomas coming out of the pile with it. The Patriots would move the ball, in part because of a 15-yard facemask penalty and a 15-yard unsportasmanlike conduct penalty. The second of those infractions resulted in the disqualification of Bobby McCain, who was ruled to have thrown a punch at Amendola, who was holding him on the ground. Brady found Gronkowski for the 15-yard touchdown, with Gronk bobbling the catch then toe tapping to make sure he stayed in bounds.
Patriots touchdown. NE 28-10.
On first down, the Dolphins picked up four yards on a Moore to Williams pass. On second down, Moore audibled to a run play for Williams, who picked up 11 yards, but was injured on the play. He was eventually carted off the field with a left shoulder issue, having appeared to jam the shoulder as he braced his fall during the tackle. Moore then found Landry for nine yards. On 2nd-and-1, Drake, the last healthy running back for the team with Perry and Williams hurt, fumbled the ball with the Patriots recovering it at the Miami 45-yard line.
New England would pick up a first down on the drive when Cameron Wake jumped offsides, but a Gronkowski false start dropped them back on third down and led to a punt.
Miami would go three-and-out on their next possession, with Moore sacked on first- and second-down.
New England backed up to start their next drive, first with a three-yard loss from Lewis with a Kiko Alonso tackle for loss, followed by a Cooks pass interference penalty. On 2nd-and-24, Cooks caught a Brady pass for 22 yards, followed by a James White four-yard gain for the first down. After an incomplete pass, White picked up eight yards on second down, then one yard on third down. The Patriots chose to go for it on 4th-and-1, but Burkhead lost two yards on the play and Miami took over on downs.
Suddenly, Miami figured out how to play like an offense on the next possession. After Moore found Landry for one-yard, he found Stills for seven-yards. An incomplete pass on third down led to Miami going for it on fourth down, with Moore finding Stills for 28 yards. He then found Julius Thomas for 17 yards before going back to Stills for 12 yards. On 1st-and-Goal from the eight yard line, Moore threw the ball to Drake in the flat and, despite having to turn around and wait for the pass, Drake was able to walk into the endzone.
Dolphins touchdown. NE 28-17.
The Dolphins defense then came out and shut down New England. An incomplete pass on first down, followed by a six-yard gain from Lewis on second down, set up Cameron Wake to sack Brady on third down and force a punt.
Miami would lose ten yards on first down with the fourth sack on Moore in the game, then lose eight more on second down with the fifth sack of the game for Moore. On 3rd-and-28, the Dolphins picked up 17 yards with a catch and run from Drake. Miami elected to go for it on 4th-and-11, with an incomplete pass targeting Landry giving the ball to New England at the Miami 38-yard line.
Lewis picked up six yards on first down for New England, then added another three on second down. On 3rd-and-1, Lewis broke for 25 yards, with Michael Thomas and T.J. McDonald tackling him at the four-yard line to stop the touchdown. After Lewis lost one yard on 1st-and-Goal, Brady tipped the snap forward to Cooks for a five-yard touchdown pass.
Patriots touchdown. NE 35-17.
Miami would go three-and-out again, this time with one sack in the possession.
New England would also go three-and-out.
The Dolphins would see Moore find Thomas for nine yards, then another sack for a loss of nine yards. Thomas would pick up another 12 yards on 3rd-and-10, only to see Moore throw deep for Parker and have the pass picked off.
New England would then go into victory formation and kill the rest of the clock.
This game may not have been as bad as expected, giving it was against New England, the Dolphins are not playing well lately, and it was in Foxboro, but it still was not pretty. The Dolphins still cannot get out of their own way, with penalties and mistakes. The offense looked about how a Moore-led offense should look - up-and-down with some great drives and then some questionable decisions.
The defense played well at times, but struggled to cover receivers at times, and Brady clearly took advantage of that. The young cornerbacks made mistakes, which allowed for big gains. The pass rush was actually pretty decent on the day, though Brady was able to get rid of the ball just before getting hit throughout the contest.
Matt Moore: 23-for-34, 215 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, 7 sacks, 70.1 passer rating
Damien Williams: 8 carries, 38 yards; 3 rec, 14 yards
Kenyan Drake: 9 carries, 20 yards; 3 rec, 27 yards, 1 TD
Jarvis Landry: 8 rec, 70 yards
Julius Thomas: 5 rec, 52 yards
Kenny Stills: 3 rec, 47 yards
DeVante Parker: 1 rec, 5 yards
Reshad Jones: 12 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD
Kiko Alonso: 9 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit
Lawrence Timmons: 6 tackles
Michael Thomas: 6 tackles
Davon Godchaux: 5 tackles
T.J. McDonald: 5 tackles
Cameron Wake: 3 tackles, 1 sack, 5 QB hits
Alterraun Vernon: 3 tackles
Chase Allen: 3 tackles
Jordan Phillips: 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
Cordrea Tankersley: 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
Andre Branch: 3 tackles
Walt Aikens: 2 tackles
Xavien Howard: 2 tackles
Terrence Fede: 2 tackles
Bobby McCain: 2 tackles, 1 pass defensed, 1 INT, ejected
Stephone Anthony: 2 tackles
Ndamukong Suh: 1 tackle, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass defensed, 1 QB hit
Vincent Taylor: 1 tackle
Jordan Lucas: 1 tackle
Charles Harris: 1 tackle
Jakeem Grant: 4 kick returns, 24.3 yards per return average
Cody Parkey: 1 for 1 FG, 28 yards, 2 for 2 extra points, 5 points
Matt Haack: 5 punts, 41.6 yards per kick average, 2 in 20