I’m not sure if the ball spent more time in the air or on the ground earlier tonight when Tom Brady lead the New England Patriots to a 38-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Brady threw for 517 yards (a new team record) and 4 touchdowns against a Dolphin defense that is supposed to be one of the best in the NFL. The Patriots largely went no-huddle and kept the Dolphins defense on its heels, very reminiscent of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the preseason.
The Dolphins’ defensive players were gassed and cramping up as Brady went up and down the field in the air, with the biggest play being a 99-yard touchdown strike to Wes Welker, tying an NFL record. The play came after the Patriots’ defense made a goalline stand and kept the Miami offense out of the endzone. That was about it though for the Patriot defense, as they allowed Chad Henne to throw for 416 yards and 2 touchdowns. Altogether, the quarterbacks combined for 906 passing yards (minus sack yardage), an NFL single-game record.
The Dolphins came out of the gate and scored a touchdown on their opening drive. The Patriots answered, and then pulled ahead 14-7 going into the half. On the Pats’ opening drive of the second half, Brady was picked off on a busted wide receiver screen pass, his first INT in 358 regular season passing attempts. That led to a Dolphins touchdown, tying the game 14-14. From there, the Patriots answered and then pulled away. The Dolphins would get to within striking distance, but then the Pats would pull away again.
Wes Welker led the team receiving with 160 yards on 8 catches and 2 touchdowns. Aaron Hernandez wasn’t too far behind, with 7 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Hernandez presents some serious matchup problems for opposing defenses, as he is too fast for a linebacker to cover him and is too physical for a corner due to his size. The Pats didn’t feature much of a running game, as you could probably figure out seeing Brady’s passing yards. Danny Woodhead led the team rushing with 69 yards on 14 carries (4.9 avg), while BenJarvus Green-Ellis added a rushing touchdown.
One of the major stories to follow during the week is the condition of center Dan Koppen. Koppen injured his ankle on a Tom Brady QB sneak late in the second quarter. He was carted off the field and spotted in crutches on the sideline towards the end of the game. The Pats were already light on the offensive line due to injuries, and Dan Connolly subbed in for Koppen for the remainder of the game. If Koppen’s injury is long-term (and it certainly looks it), look for a free agent move to come.