The New England Patriots won the opening coin toss for Monday Night Football against the Miami Dolphins and, as always, elected to receive. The Dolphins started the game with a methodical 13-play, 69-yard drive to the New England 12-yard line that ended with a field goal and a 3-0 Miami lead.
The Patriots responded in the worst possible way, gaining zero yards on their first two plays and then Tom Brady horribly underthrew Brandin Cooks on a sideline route that resulted in an interception by Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard. Brady was feeling the pressure the entire first quarter and he displayed terrible technique and footwork.
The Dolphins started their next drive on their own 40-yard line in pretty good field position and went on another methodical 8-play, 34-yard drive to the Patriots 26-yard line. Dolphins kicker Cody Parkey connected on another field goal to take a 6-0 lead.
At the end of the first quarter, the Dolphins had outgained the Patriots 123-2 and the Patriots were sleepwalking in prime time.
New England and Miami exchanged punts for a couple drives before the Patriots won the field position battle and started a drive at midfield. An incredible (and I’m not sure entirely intentional) 20-yard catch by Dion Lewis and a defensive pass interference call against Howard brought the Patriots to the goal line where Rex Burkhead punched in a score for a 7-6 lead.
The lead was short-lived as the Dolphins immediately responded with a 7-play, 80-yard drive with a 47-yard pass to running back Kenyan Drake, before capping off the drive with a short touchdown pass to Jarvis Landry as Miami took back the lead, 13-7.
The Patriots are asking Elandon Roberts to cover Drake and it’s been terrible all half, so look for the Patriots to make an adjustment with either Marquis Flowers or Devin McCourty taking on a larger role in the second half.
The Patriots got the ball back with 3:33 in the half with an opportunity to score and get the ball again in the second half. Brady found Burkhead and drove deep into the Dolphins territory, but the drive stalled at the Dolphins 28-yard line and Stephen Gostkowski kicked a field goal to close the score to 13-10.
The Patriots really missed having Rob Gronkowski on offense as Tom Brady looked generally ineffective all half, with New England going 0 for 4 on third down. He failed to get his wide receivers involved as Dion Lewis (52 yards from scrimmage), Rex Burkhead (52), and James White (8) combined for 112 of the Patriots 120 first half yards. Dwayne Allen had one catch for 8 yards.
The Patriots get the ball to start the second half. New England will have to make a lot of adjustments.