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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Neither the Dolphins nor myself saw that one coming

Nobody, not even the biggest Pats footie pajamas fanboy, could have possibly seen last night's Pats blowout of the Dolphins coming.

It was Monday Night Football in Miami and after losing to the Jets (3-1) on Sunday night, the Dolphins (2-2) figured to bounce back.

Miami led 7-6 at the half but the Patriots (3-1) exploded for 35 points in the second half, on the way to a 41-14 thrashing that completely changed the complexion of the AFC East (for one week at least).

In the process, New England became the first team in NFL history to record a touchdown catch, touchdown run, interception for a touchdown, a blocked field goal for a touchdown and kickoff return for a touchdown.

Obviously, the special teams were the difference, giving every football coach in the world a pants tent since that's something they harp about ad nauseum.

The biggest stars last night? Patrick Chung, Rob Ninkovich, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Danny Woodhead, Brandon Tate and Jerod Mayo. And yes, this is real life.

When the game started, Miami looked like they were going to run over New England, literally. The Pats defense continued to play like they were wearing ice skates as Chad Henne (302 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions) threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Davone Bess (9 catches, 93 yards).

Ninkovich made two picks, one late in the first quarter and the other in the second quarter, that were converted into two field goals by Stephen Gostkowski: 23-yard and 30-yard kicks.

Brandon Tate took the opening kick of the second half and completely changed the game by returning it 103 yards for his second return touchdown of the season.

That 13-7 lead morphed into 20-7 a few minutes later as Green-Ellis (16 carries, 76 yards) ran up the middle 12 yards for the touchdown. It was all set up by Chung, who blocked a punt that was scooped up by Brandon Spikes at the Dolphins' 15-yard line.

Miami seemed to respond as the ageless Ricky Williams ran a screen pass in for a 28-yard touchdown.

Tom Brady (153 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions) and the offense got the job done on the next drive, as he eventually found Woodhead for a 11-yard touchdown pass.

It got much worse for the Dolphins in the fourth quarter as Dan Carpenter's 54-yard field goal was blocked by Chung and picked up by Kyle Arrington, who returned it 35 yards for the touchdown. Game over, it was 34-14 New England.

Finally, Chung capped off his career night with a 51-yard interception return for a score off of Henne. Once again, Henne was exposed for the fraud he is. I should have known better, I saw him enough at Michigan to realize that he'll never be better than average but I bought into the Dolphins.

Mark Sanchez is better than Henne and the Jets are better than the Pats and Dolphins. Fact not opinion as Mike Felger has famously said a million times.

The post-script from the game are some interesting stats: Randy Moss didn't have a catch for the first time in his Patriots career. Wes Welker had eight catches for 70 yards, including a vital third-down conversion. Mayo looked awesome, making 14 solo tackles and two assists. Also, Ninkovich had a sack in what Mike Tirico called "the best night of his football life."

Now we have two weeks to all jump back on the Pats bandwagon and feel the love. The schedule gets particularly hard after the bye week since they host Baltimore then go to San Diego.

For one night though, Belichick and Brady were pumped up on the sidelines as the game wound down and this season has much more hope and potential.

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