It was the Ronnie Brown show at Gillette Stadium this Sunday. Ironic, because the analysis going into this game was that Miami's quarterback Chad Pennington was a nice NFL quarterback but without any weapons, his team was heavy underdogs.
Instead, Brown had a monster game with 17 carries for 113 yards and a pass for a touchdown to go along with his four rushing scores. Ricky Williams had 98 yards on the ground on 16 carries. Both Miami's running backs averaged over 6 yards an attempt. Pennington had a good game himself, going 17 of 20 passing for 226 yards.
]()For the Patriots, Matt Cassel was harrassed throughout and came away with only 131 yards on 19 completes for just 4.2 yards per catch. That just wasn't going to do the trick when his ball carriers were averaging well under 4 yards.
The Patriots head into the bye week with a 2-1 record and will take the opportunity to regroup.
The first significant series of the game was the Patriots second possession. After both teams went three and out to start things off, Cassel and his offense started at the New England 39 and with the help of a Sammy Morris run for 17, was down to the Miami 7, goal to go. The Miami defense began to send heat Cassel's way. Joey Porter broke through the left side of the Patriots line and dropped Cassel for a loss of 5. On second and 12, it looked like Phillip Merling might do the same as Porter but Cassel broke free and wound up in the end zone. Bad news followed for the Patriots as the refs ruled that Cassel was in the grasp and the play was dead in the Patriots backfield.
It was fairly clear that Cassel's forward momentum had never stopped but despite that the play stood as a 4-yard sack for Merling. On the next play Cassel saw pressure again and this time he attempted to throw through traffic and Miami's Randy Stokes came up with an interception.
The turnover was big as the Dolphins, starting from their 26, drove right down the field in 3:44 for the game's first score, a direct snap to running back Ronnie Brown who ran it in from 2 yards out.
New England got on the board with three on its next series. Aside from a double reverse where Kevin Faulk started right and then pitched to Wes Welker who took it 19 yards, it was a dink and dunk drive for Cassel. On fourth and 2 from the 37, the Patriots went for it and Cassel delivered with a 12-yard completion to Jabar Gaffney. Those were the highlights as Stephen Gostkowski came on for a 37-yrd attempt that he made.
The scoring continued with the Dolphins only taking six plays to make the score 14-3. Pennington found Greg Camarillo wide open for 33 yards on the drive's first play and David Martin two plays later for 21. On third and 2 from the 15, Brown broke one tackle near the line of scrimmage and from there it was clear sailing into the end zone.
Pennington's smarts and efficiency were the difference up to this point. The former Jet was 8 of 10 passing for 129 yards.
]()Miami was content to trade touchdowns for field goals as the Patriots made the score 14-6 with a 44-yard Gostkowski boot after the Miami score. Actually, the Patriots were luckly to even have the chance to score three. On first and 10 from his 49, Cassel looked downfield but either underthrew his man deeper or led Welker way too far. Renaldo Hill had dropped an easy interception, tipping it up in the air. Welker was in the right spot to come down with it for a 21-yard gain, otherwise it could have been a devastating blow to New England's morale.
Miami looked like it was simply having fun with the Patriots as the first half wound down. On first and 10 from their 46, Brown lined up in shotgun with Pennington playing receiver along the sideline. Brown took the snap and gave to Williams for a 28-yard gain. Three plays later the Dolphins were first and goal from the five and again, it was Brown in shotgun. This time he kept right up the middle for his third touchdown of the game and a 21-6 Miami lead in front of a stunned Gillette Stadium crowd.
The half ended with a 6-yard Kevin Faulk run following another Porter sack and the boo-birds were out in Foxborough.
The Brown-as-QB fun and games continued into the third quarter. The Dolphins scored their fourth touchdown at the 5:46 mark when Brown took the shotgun snap and this time instead of handing off or running, led tight end Anthony Fasano perfectly into the end zone from 19 yards out. At 28-6 it was a blow out in the making.
Ellis Hobbs did his best to keep things interesting by taking the ensuing kick off 81 yards to the Miami 23. After Welker caught a 9-yard pass and Moss one for 8 yards, Cassel hit Gaffney from 5 yards out to make the score 28-13 with 3:20 left in the third quarter.
It didn't matter because New England had yet to figure out what to do when Brown lined up as QB. He did it again on the Dolphins next possession on first and 10 from his own 38. He kept up the middle and didn't stop until he was in the end zone. His fourth touchdown was a new Mami record for rushing scores in a game.
Miami tacked on three on a Dan Carpenter 39-yard field goal to make the final score 38-13. By that time, just over six minutes left in the game, any fight the Patriots had was gone. A Cassel fumble ended an earlier drive and only a bad call by a ref on Rodrique Wright for roughing the quarterback kept Cassel from throwing his second interception of the game. Both teams brought in their back-up QBs in the game's waning minutes, Kevin O'Connell for the Patriots and Chad Henne for Miami.