Tom Brady and the New England Patriots open the 2011 season against the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins in front of a national audience on Monday night in South Florida.
Event: New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins – NFL Regular Season, Week 1.
Date/Time: Monday, September 12, 2011 – 7:00 p.m. EDT.
Location: Sun Life Stadium (Capacity: 75,192), Miami Gardens, Florida.
Broadcast Info: Monday’s game between the Patriots and Dolphins will be aired nationally on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, with Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Ron Gruden making up the broadcast team. The game can also be heard on the radio on 98.5 The Sports Hub (WBZ-FM) in the Boston market, with the legendary Gil Santon and Gino Cappelletti serving as the broadcast team.
Last Meeting: Tom Brady completed 10-of-16 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots walloped the Dolphins, 38-7, in the 2010 season finale at Gillette Stadium. The Dolphins never stood a chance, as the Pats put up 24 first half points while holding Miami scoreless. Tyler Thigpen was Miami’s standout, throwing for 169 yards and one touchdown.
Believe it or not, this was a better showing from the Dolphins than the first meeting of the season on October 4 – a 41-13 blowout win for the Patriots that was also on Monday Night Football. As you may recall, that was the game in which the Pats’ special teams dominated the game, with a 103-yard kickoff return from Brandon Tate and a blocked punt from safety Patrick Chung that set up a touchdown. Brady threw for 153 yards in the win.
Storyline: Tom Brady will be the center of attention for many reasons on Monday night. First, well, he's Tom Brady - the reigning NFL MVP and one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. However, this is the first time he will be playing in a meaningful game since having offseason foot surgery. Brady didn't show a lot of rust in the preseason, but did miss his targets on several occasions.
In addition, both the offensive and defensive lines are areas to focus on, with rookie Nate Solder making his first career start at right tackle with Sebastian Vollmer out. On the defensive line, the status of Albert Haynesworth is still unknown, but he is expected to play as of early Monday afternoon.
The area of focus for Miami will be the situation at running back. With Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown no longer in the mix, the Dolphins will be relying on ex-USC great Reggie Bush, rookie Daniel Thomas and former troublemaker and ex-Chiefs running back Larry Johnson to lead them on the ground. Dolphins head coach Tony Sporano said that he wants to get Bush around 20 touches in the game - 15 carries and five receptions. Thomas' status is uncertain for the game, meaning that the carries will likely be split between Bush and Johnson.
Prediction: It would be considered an upset if the Pats don’t win by a touchdown. Final Score: Patriots 38, Dolphins 14.