MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 12, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)

Patriots Vs. Dolphins: Tom Brady Breaks Records As New England Rolls, 38-24

Tom Brady threw for a team-record 517 yards - placing him fifth all-time for passing yards in a game - and four touchdowns as the Patriots crushed the Dolphins, 38-24.

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Patriots 38, Dolphins 24: Tom Brady Enjoys Record Night In Win

You could call it Brady Being Brady. Or you could call it an old fashioned shootout. Any way you slice it, the Patriots started off the 2011 regular season right where they left off the last.

Tom Brady showed off his reigning league-MVP mettle, throwing for a record 517 yards and 4 touchdowns to lead the Pats to a 38-24 victory over the Dolphins on Monday night. Aiding those numbers was an incredible 99 yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker, tied for the longest in NFL history.

Welker was the night's leading receiver with 8 receptions for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Deion Branch held his own with 93 yards on 7 receptions.

Breakout stars Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski looked as vital as ever to the Patriots' offensive production, combining for 13 receptions and 189 yards. Gronkowski added a touchdown on the evening, reminding everyone of his reputation as a major red zone target.

The New England defense definitely looks to be working out some kinks, allowing Chad Henne alone to rush for 59 yards on 7 carries including a nearly 9 yard rushing touchdown on the opening drive of the game.

The defensive backs were the bright spot on their side of the ball, with Devin McCourty and Pat Chung lead the defense with 11 and 9 tackles respectively, including a Chung sack. It's also worth noting that Kyle Arrington intercepted Chad Henne in the red zone to end the game and prevent a possible garbage-time score.

With the loss, the Dolphins have dropped 10 of their last 11 home games. Despite having a top ten league defense in 2010, the Dolphins were outscored by the Patriots 79-21 in their two meetings. Tonight's shellacking continues to expose Coach Sparano's issues combating the high-powered New England offense.

After the game, Brady was asked about how he could follow up his performance with an encore.

"Well, it was a good night in that sense, we executed pretty well at times," he said. "Look, it's a team sport. Those guys were making some great plays catching the ball. Aaron (Hernandez), Gronk, Chad (Ochocinco), Deion (Branch), Wes. There was a lot of tough looks out there that we got and guys really stayed aware of the situations. We made enough plays to win. That's the goal."

Brady also went on to talk about the in-game injury to offensive lineman Dan Koppen, speaking about the loss and describing their relationship.

"I think he and I have a great chemistry between the two of us, we always have. He's one of my great friends, and hopefully he's back at some point."

The Patriots now look ahead to Sunday, when they will make their 2011 debut at Gillette Stadium against the San Diego Chargers at 4:15 p.m.

For more New England Patriots coverage, visit our team page and blog, Pats Pulpit.


Patriots Vs. Dolphins: Welker's 99 Yard Run Caps Patriots 38-24 Win

Tom Brady started off his eleventh NFL regular season in style Monday night against the Miami Dolphins. Brady had 517 passing yards in the Patriots 38-24 win, which ranks him fifth all time among NFL quarterbacks for passing yards in a single game.

In the fourth quarter, the Patriots added to the 28-17 lead they brought into the quarter with a Stephen Gostkowski field goal. The field goal capped a nine play, 62 yard drive that saw Brady connecting several times with Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez.

A fruitless drive by Chad Henne and the Dolphins was followed up by a similarly brief drive by the Patriots. Upon their next posession, the Dolphins went on a 77 yard drive that stymied itself at the New England one yard marker. Henne had passed the ball to Davonne Best, who thought he had crossed the red end zone marker, but the officials thought otherwise. Henne couldn’t convert after the play’s review, and the Dolphins walked away from the drive without points to show for it.

It was the play after the Dolphins resulting punt that would go down in the record books. Starting off on the Patriots’ one yard line, Brady sailed the ball to Wes Welker, who ran 99 yards for a touchdown. The play tied the NFL record for the longest play from scrimmage. Gostkowski kicked for the extra point, and the Patriots were finished scoring for the evening.

Reggie Bush would score his first touchdown as a member of the Dolphins on the next drive, giving the Dolphins 24 points on the night.

Brady’s yard total was a record for Monday Night Football. Welker finished the night leading the receiving for the Patriots, with 160 yards and 2 touchdowns. The running game was not used much by the Patriots, as BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a quiet evening and Danny Woodhead lead the team in rushing with 69 yards.

Not to be overlooked was Henne’s scrappy play on the evening. He was like a weeble – the Patriots defenders just kept beating him up, including a massive hit delivered by Vince Wilfork, but Henne just kept getting up and playing. He finished the night with a not-too-shabby 416 passing yards.


Patriots Vs. Dolphins: Five Things To Watch For On Monday Night

While most of the league kicks off their 2011 season today, the Patriots had to wait until Monday evening to get started against their divisional rival Miami Dolphins.

Coming off a 14-2 season in 2010 during which their young and inexperienced defense proved they could hold their own, the team as a whole now looks to establish themselves as an even more well-rounded, skilled and confident team. The Patriots have won eight of the last ten AFC East titles, but it hasn’t been without struggles against the Dolphins who have always challenged their divisional superior, even when they haven’t challenge many others.

Here are five things to watch keep an eye on in the season opener for the Patriots:

  1.  The Miami running game: The dynamic yet aging duo of Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown have been replaced by former Saints back Reggie Bush and rookie Daniel Thomas. Although they will provide more speed in the backfield and Bush has good hands doubling as a short down receiver, this can be considered an overall down grade in the running game. Bush has struggled to hold his own as a consistent starter in the NFL, and word is that Thomas is tending to a hamstring injury. This will be a good first test for the Patriots revamped defensive line
  2. The Patriots wide receivers: the biggest storyline for the offense in the off season was whether or not Chad Ochocinco would be able to adjust to life in Brady’s world where the best receiver is the open receiver. General consensus from camp and preseason games was that Ochocinco has struggled with multiple drops, possibly due to his trouble picking up the play calls and schemes. As a dedicated and healthy receiver with an outspoken respect for his new team, I don’t expect him to struggle this way all season. But don’t be surprised to see Brady working more effectively with his safety blankets, Wes Welker and Deion Branch, until 85 can get his groove back.
  3. The Patriots defensive backs: Their success against the passing game hinges on the production of cornerbacks Devin McCourty, Leigh Bodden and safety Patrick Chung. McCourty has a lot to live up to after a Pro Bowl rookie year, and Bodden returns to action after being sidelined with an injury last year. If the two of tehm return in top form, they could be  a formidable threat to any of the best passing games in the league. Chung is not elite, but has shown potential to be a big play maker and has great vision on the field. He’s also shown potential to be a great leader and motivator on and off the field.
  4. The New England running game: Although it may look the same as it has in recent years, the running backs of 2011 provide a burst of youth that the Patriots have not had in a long time. Replacing old and slow vets like Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor are young 2nd and 3rd round picks Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley. Danny Woodhead returns after a spectacular breakout year in 2010 to resume his role as a resourceful and adaptable receiving and third down back, and Kevin Faulk remains on the team as a back up and mentor to his young successors. Most importantly, Benjarvus Green-Ellis has looked strong and confident throughout the preseason, and is poised to anchor this group throughout the season. He has great steady hands, protects the ball, and has an eye for the endzone in short-and-goal situations. The Patriots running game should be able to capitalize on their depth and versatility against a weak Dolphins offensive line.
  5. Yeremiah Bell and Cameron Wake: These guys are two game-changers in a matchup against the Patriots. Bell is an incredibly effective tackler with a knack for forcing fumbles, which can be a bad matchup for the mostly undersized Patriots receivers. Cameron Wake is a threat to put some serious pressure on Tom Brady and the offensive line at outside linebacker. Both Dan Connelly and Sebastian Vollmer are questionable, and if they don’t play, wake is an even greater threat if Brady can’t get rid of the ball quickly.
For more New England Patriots coverage, visit our team page and blog, Pats Pulpit.
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