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(Monday, September 12th)
Final Score: New England 38, Miami 24
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Tom Brady started the 2011 campaign right where he left off the 2010 regular season, with an epic, MVP-type performance.
Brady threw for a New England team-record 517 yards in a 38-24 win over the Dolphins.
The no-huddle offense implemented by the Patriots shredded Miami's defense and Brady's offensive line gave him more than ample time. The league's reigning MVP, who connected on 32-of-48 passes with four touchdowns, compiled the fifth-most passing yards in an NFL game.
When Brady connected with Wes Welker on a 99-yard TD pass with 5:44 remaining, it gave him 511 yards on the night, moving him past the team mark of 426 set by Drew Bledsoe on November 13, 1994 in a 26-20 overtime win over the Vikings.
Coming off his second NFL MVP award, Brady also topped his former record for longest pass in team history. That was a 91-yarder from him to David Patten in a contest against Indianapolis on October 21, 2001.
"It was a good pace at times, gave them some problems," Brady said of the no- huddle offense. "But at other times, they adjusted to it. We have to find ways to execute better."
The only downer for Brady was seeing his NFL-record streak of 358 passes without an interception broken, and that came on a deflection.
The 99-yard pass to Welker, which came down the left sideline and tied an NFL record, moved the Patriots to a 38-17 lead, just after the Dolphins failed on a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
"I only threw it 25 yards," Brady said. "It wasn't like I threw it 99 yards. Wes did all the work. I just put it out there for him."
Welker stiff-armed Dolphins cornerback Bennie Sapp, giving the Patriots a commanding lead, on the way to their eighth straight season-opening win.
"Not the defensive performance that we were hoping for," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "They had almost 700 yards of offense. That's an understatement."
To be exact, New England had 622 yards and Brady had the most single-game passing yardage in Monday Night Football history. The all-time record is 554 yards, set by Norm Van Brocklin of the Los Angeles Rams in a September 28, 1951 contest vs. the New York Yanks.
Welker had eight catches for 160 yards and a pair of scores. Tight end Aaron Hernandez complemented the attack with seven grabs for 103 yards and a TD for the Patriots (1-0), who went a league-best 14-2 last year, but were upset by the Jets in the divisional round of the playoffs.
"It's key to have, a bunch of guys that get open and catch the ball and move us down the field," Welker said.
The Dolphins (0-1), coming off their second straight 7-9 campaign, got 416 yards passing from Chad Henne. He threw for a pair of scores on 30-of-49 efficiency with one interception on the game's final play.
Brandon Marshall had 139 yards on seven receptions. Reggie Bush, who was traded from New Orleans to Miami in the offseason, caught a TD pass and ended with nine catches for 56 yards, and 11 rushes for 38 yards.
"It was everything that I've been looking forward and it was everything I expected," Bush said. "I had a fun time out there, but obviously it's not that much fun when you lose. I thought we did a great job running the ball early on but with that being said we've got to be able to match the other team's offensive power and their clock management and keep it to short downs and distances."
The 933 combined passing yards were the most in NFL history, topping the 927 set by Miami's Dan Marino and Kenny O'Brien of the New York Jets in a 51-45 Jets OT victory on September 21, 1986.
The result for the Patriots was tempered by the loss of veteran center Dan Koppen, who broke his left ankle in the second quarter.
"We're certainly going to miss him," said Brady. "Some other guys have step in and do the job. That's part of what this game is all about."
The Dolphins had a touchdown reversed right before the Brady-to-Welker play. Davone Bess stretched for the pylon on a seven-yard catch, but upon replay it was determined his knee was down before scoring. Henne's fourth down pass to Brian Hartline was over his head in the left corner of the end zone.
Following the Brady to Welker connection, the Dolphins made it a two-TD margin when Bush scored on a one-yard reception. The Dolphins challenged the original ruling of no TD, which was reversed when replays showed Bush broke the plane of the goal line with 3:39 left.
Henne's final pass of the night was corralled at the New England five by Patriot cornerback Kyle Arrington.
The Dolphins took the ball following the opening kickoff and went 84 yards in 12 plays, capping the possession with a nine-yard TD run from Henne on a designed quarterback draw up the middle on 3rd-and-goal.
New England also put up seven points on its first touch thanks to a four-yard run from BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Brady's 46-yard bomb to Matthew Slater highlighted the drive.
Brady went 8-for-8 over his first two drives, finishing the latter one with a 10-yard TD pass to Rob Gronkowski on the right side of the end zone in the opening minute of the second quarter.
New England's Stephen Gostkowski was wide right on a 48-yard field goal attempt in the dying seconds of the half, leaving the Pats with a 14-7 lead.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Brady was picked off by defensive tackle Jared Odrick on a deflection. Brady, who suffered his first interception since October 17, 2010 against Baltimore, tried to get the ball on the left side to Julian Edelman, but he collided with Sapp. The backward carom came right to Odrick, who was tackled at the nine by Deion Branch.
Two plays later, Henne found Hartline over the middle for a 10-yard scoring connection.
Using the no-huddle and shotgun formation most of the time, Brady moved the Patriots ahead, 21-14, with a two-yard TD strike to the left side to Welker with 8:23 left in the third.
New England thwarted a potential tying touchdown on the next possession when cornerback Devin McCourty nearly came up with an interception in the end zone and Marshall had a pass broken up at the goal line. Miami had to settle for a 20-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter.
Brady continued to pick apart Miami's defense with Hernandez catching a 31- yard pass that was initially ruled a score, but was reversed upon replay as he was touched down at the one. On the next play, Brady rewarded Hernandez, who caught the ball in the back center of the end zone for a 28-17 cushion with 10 seconds left in the quarter.
Gostkowski split the uprights from 20 yards away with nearly 11 minutes remaining for a 31-17 margin.
New England's nine straight regular season games of at least 30 points tied the Patriots record and is the second longest-streak in NFL history, behind the 14 by St. Louis in 1999-2000...The Patriots have won eight of the last 11 games against Miami...Brady is 45-11 in his career as a starter in the regular-season against AFC East opponents, with six of the 11 losses coming to the Dolphins...Dolphins veteran linebacker Jason Taylor limped off the field with an apparent right ankle injury with 52 seconds left in the first half. He turned the ankle during a completed pass play from Brady to Gronkowski...The big new acquisitions for the Patriots - six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and troublesome defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth had marginal nights. Ochocinco had one catch for 14 yards, while Haynesworth had a pair of tackles.
09/13 01:58:45 ET
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