The Patriots exorcised some of their past demons in Miami with a 43-0 domination of the Dolphins that was never in question. Despite losing starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn early in the game, the offense continued to spread the ball around and let their playmakers make plays.
But it was the defense that was most impressive, getting a shutout and allowing just 184 yards while returning two late-game interceptions for touchdowns. Two games into the season and the comparisons to the first dynasty defense will only pick up steam. They look impenetrable.
Here’s everything else that stood out as the Patriots head home with a 2-0 start to the season.
- The Patriots opened the game with a textbook drive, as Tom Brady found Antonio Brown on three passes for 36 yards and would’ve had him for the touchdown had he not been held. Sometimes there’s just no issue with special players assimilating into Brady’s circle of trust, as was the case with Randy Moss, Josh Gordon and now Brown, who was not without a few moments where he wasn’t on the same page as Brady. He caught just one pass, a touchdown, after the first drive. Still, it was an intriguing debut as the electric Brown jumped off the screen. He finished with four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown. He also had his first carry since 2016 for five yards.
- Rotation was a major theme on both sides of the ball. This made sense on a number of levels, including the heat and getting reps for a lot of different players. On defense, the depth of the linebackers was on full display. It makes you wonder how good and consistent they will be when they really lock in on their best players and personnel packages. But having this kind of depth is ideal for September in Miami.
- Sony Michel got back on track, starting things off with 19 yards and a touchdown on the first drive and finishing with 21 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown, though Michel also had a late-game fumble. The ground game was much more effective this week than it was in the season opener and that was without either starting tackle.
- Elandon Roberts didn’t play any defensive snaps last week against the Steelers but was back in the mix as the Patriots worked out of their regular 3-4 personnel more often than any time in recent memory. Whatever the Pats did defensively was effective as they controlled the line of scrimmage from start to finish.
- Isaiah Wynn left the game with a foot injury, leaving the Pats with backups at both tackle spots and at center. The offense seemed to plateau a bit once they went to their backup tackles, resulting in a punt and a missed field goal, and then a grinding final drive before halftime where Brady rifled a touchdown to Brown. In the second half they relied more on the run game and were still able to effectively spread the ball around. Despite how the final score looked, we’re still just scratching the surface with the offense.
- With Marcus Cannon already hurt, losing Wynn for any amount of time will put the Patriots offense in a bind and force Dante Scarnecchia to make magic happen with two tackles who have only been on the team for a couple weeks. Tackle was a huge position of question all preseason and now, with two injuries to the starters, the questions are even bigger. Does this mean a promotion from the practice squad for Dan Skipper? Hopefully, Wynn and Cannon are back out there soon, because right now it looks like the legendary offensive line coach might be looking at one of the bigger challenges of his career in getting Korey Cunningham and Marshall Newhouse ready to protect the edges of the offense.
- Two missed field goals and an extra point for Stephen Gostkowski brought back memories of the preseason which also featured multiple misses by the field goal operation. It will once again be hard to find something to complain about after this win, but Gostkowski’s consistency is sure to be the bull’s eye of the criticism target this week.
- Phillip Dorsett might’ve been knocked down a peg on the depth chart with the arrival of Antonio Brown, but was still reliable, getting 18 on a third-and-17 and then another spectacular catch in the third quarter. In a long season it’s good to have Dorsett, who continues to be where Brady wants him to be for key moments. Reliability and availability have defined his Patriots tenure. He had three catches for 39 yards.
- Stephon Gilmore’s tipped ball to Devin McCourty for an interception, his second of the season, was another picture-perfect play for the defense, who continue to live up to expectations. Then Gilmore chipped in with his own pick six, the first touchdown of his career.
- Not be outdone, Jamie Collins then grabbed a fourth-quarter pick six of his own, another freakish athletic play by Collins, who trotted 64 yards for a touchdown with ease. Collins would also end the game with his second interception as time expired. It’s hard to find much to complain about defensively so far this season and it’s given the offense time to figure things out at tight end, tackle and receiver. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a Patriots defense control a game like this. The multitude of turnovers is the icing on the cake.
- The offensive potential remains high, but it’s still a work in progress for a variety of reasons. Once the receiver situation gets a boost they take a step back at tackle. So how good the offense can be is still a good question. Maybe a better one is will it ever all come together at once? They have all the pieces and with this kind of defense there’s time to get healthy and figure it all out.
The Patriots are back at home on Sunday September 22nd at 1pm against the New York Jets.