It was a tale of two halves Sunday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. The New England Patriots fo..."/> It was a tale of two halves Sunday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. The New England Patriots fo..."/>

Atrocious Trench Play Dooms Patriots in Season Opener


Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

It was a tale of two halves Sunday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida. The New England Patriots forced three first-half turnovers and even benefitted from a Rob Gronkowski touchdown, though it was all for not. The Dolphins, led by a relentless pass rush and a ferocious ground attack, hammered the Patriots down the stretch to a final tune of 33-20. Woeful trench play and the inability to capitalize on turnovers ultimately spelled defeat.

Last season the Dolphins played the Patriots tightly, running with them step for step. Right from the get-go, they made their presence known. Miami’s punt-return team blocked a Ryan Allen punt following the Patriots opening possession. Their offense then stuffed in a quick touchdown on a 4-yard strike from Ryan Tannehill to Lamar Miller.

Down 7-0, Tom Brady and the New England offense immediately responded. Shane Vereen scored on a 2-yard touchdown run, capping of an impressive 80-yard drive.

Logan Ryan and Jamie Collins both forced first-half fumbles in which the Patriots recovered. Alfonzo Dennard also notched an interception. Unfortunately the Patriots were only able to cash in with one more touchdown via a 6-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Gronkowski. Stephen Gostkowski added a pair of field goals from 45 and 47 yards out.

New England headed for the third quarter up 20-10, but only one team returned from half time with its mind set on winning and that was the Dolphins. They got things done the old fashion way by out willing and out working the Patriots along the offensive and defensive lines.

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Brady dropped backed to pass quite a bit, racking up 249 yards and a touchdown on 29-of-56 passing. He was hit, knocked down or sacked on what seemed like every play in the second half. New England’s make-shift offensive line was blown up from all angles. They were downright impossible to watch. Miami was mainly rushing just four guys to boot. Instead of orchestrating some late-game scoring drives, Brady was on the turf more than he was upright.

Cameron Wake sacked Brady four times and twice stripped the ball from him. Two other Dolphins sacked him and six landed hits on the Patriots signal caller. They were just 5-17 on third down, a direct indication of how little amount of time Brady had to make a decision with the football.

On the flip side of things, the Patriots defensive line, was just as bad when it came to stopping the run. Knowshon Moreno carved up them up on his way to 134 yards and a score. Miller added 59 yards. Miami’s offensive front opened up massive holes with regularity. Moreno was really the difference as he put the team on his back in the festering summer heat.

With such high expectations coming into the game, it’s hard to find many positives in regards to the play of New England. Gronkowski did emerge from the contest healthy and Julian Edelman tallied 95 yards receiving. Outside of that, the fact that Bill Belichick’s squad was outscored 23-0 nothing in the game’s final two quarters leaves much work to be done, and a slew of question marks moving forward.

The Patriots will visit the Minnesota Vikings next Sunday for Week 2 of the regular season. Their Week 1 loss marks the first time they’ve been defeated in a season-opening game since 2003.