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Matchup Winners: Dolphins mounted tons of pressure against the Patriots




With very few exceptions the Patriots running game was a complete non-factor in Miami. Considering the Dolphins had one of the worst run defenses in football a year ago, that was a huge surprise. Stevan Ridley opened the game as the lead back but finished with just 21 yards on eight carries, which translates to a ridiculous 2.6-yard average. Shane Vereen actually led the team in rushing with 36 yards on seven attempts, including an 11-yard run to convert a key third-and-10 from the New England 6 that kick-started a long touchdown drive. Aside from that run, however, the Patriots couldn't muster a thing on the ground, finishing with 89 yards on 20 carries with 21 of those yards coming on Julian Edelman end-arounds. Not a good start for the running game.  EDGE: DOLPHINS



The Patriots run defense was supposed to return to normal with Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo back in action. That wasn't the case as Miami ripped them apart between the tackles to the tune of 193 yards on 35 attempts (5.5-yard average). Those numbers don't include Ryan Tannehill kneel downs, but they do include Knowshon Moreno (24 carries, 134 yards, 1 TD) and Lamar Miller (11 carries, 54 yards). Both were able to find creases in the Patriots 3-4 front all afternoon long, and particularly during a late drive that resulted in the clinching touchdown. Teams like to chart efficient runs as those that result in gains of 4 yards or ones that pick up a first down or a touchdown. The goal is to have about 50 percent fall into that category. The Dolphins had 28 efficient runs on their 35 attempts and at one point recorded 15 in a row. Miami was dominant up front even with an entirely new offensive line.  EDGE: DOLPHINS



Tom Brady threw the ball 56 times and was sacked on four others, meaning the Patriots attempted 60 passes in the opener. Without knowing anything else there's a good bet things didn't go well in Miami. The Dolphins mounted tons of pressure against the Patriots re-worked offensive line that featured a couple of different looks during the game. Nothing Bill Belichick and his new line coach Dave DeGuglielmo dialed up seemed to work. Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake were constant forces off the edge and Brady never appeared settled. He completed 29 of 56 passes for just 249 yards and a touchdown. That translates to a passer rating of just 69.7. Edelman was terrific in the first half with six catches for 95 yards including a 44-yard deep ball that was a thing of beauty. But he was blanked in the second half, and the rest of the passing game was as well. Kenbrell Thompkins, Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell failed to provide any outlet while Rob Gronkowski appeared stiff and slow at times while catching just four of the 11 passes thrown to him, although one went for a 6-yard touchdown. Lots of work to do here.  EDGE: DOLPHINS



Tannehill is trying to establish himself as a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL and there were times when he looked like he was well on his way. He finished 18 of 32 for 178 yards and a pair of touchdowns and one interception (79.9 passer rating). But at other points he was inaccurate and failed to capitalize on many scoring chances by either missing open targets or forcing his receivers to make difficult catches. Mike Wallace got the better of Darrelle Revis and caught seven passes for 81 yards including a 22-yard touchdown. Wallace also beat Revis on a couple of other plays but Tannehill either missed him or the receiver failed to keep his feet in bounds. Overall, the Dolphins had too many open receivers and Miami's failures seemed to have more to do with dropped passes (Charles Clay) or misfired throws (Alfonzo Dennard's interception). The Patriots also generated very little pressure on Tannehill, who was sacked a league-high 58 times last year. He went down just once on Sunday.  EDGE: DOLPHINS



The Patriots were extremely sloppy in the kicking game and it started right from the get-go. After going three-and-out to open the game, New England had its first punt of the season blocked following a low snap by Danny Aiken that caused Ryan Allen to take more time than normal. That led to the game's opening touchdown. Stephen Gostkowski nailed field goals of 45 and 47 yards but he also had three shaky kickoffs – two line drives that were returnable and one short one that followed an offside penalty that negated a touchback. Miami's Jarvis Landry also returned a shanked Allen punt 16 yards that allowed the Dolphins to take over near midfield for a drive that ended in a field goal. Edelman also muffed a punt on one of his two punt return attempts. Not much help coming from the third phase of the game in Miami.  EDGE: DOLPHINS

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