Five points in the hole, seven seconds left, the Miami Dolphins managed to beat the Patriots last December on a fluky and badly-defended but scrappy scoring play as time ran out. Within 24 hours, ‘Miami Miracle’ t-shirts and hoodies popped up to commemorate the play and cash in on fan euphoria. My own closet is stuffed with enough commemorative t-shirts to clothe a small village so hat’s off to Miami fans for taking advantage of an opportune moment. As the saying goes however, the Dolphins won the battle that day, but the Patriots won the war.
The defending champions returned to the scene of the crime Sunday and shut out the Dolphins 43-0, on a hot-as-hades field at Hard Rock Stadium. As far as I know, no t-shirts have yet been designed to memorialize this game using one of the many catchy descriptors [massacre, beat-down, annihilation, fish-fry, tank-job, etc...] found in the post-game recaps. That’s okay. The game was in-hand early, and notable mainly for the spectacular performance by the defense as well as it being Antonio Brown’s first game as a Patriot. Not exactly slogan-worthy.
This week the Patriots face another debacle of a team, the 0-2 NY Jets who are already on their third quarterback. How New England’s patchwork offensive line gets put together and performs will be the wild card, but I still believe the Patriots will once again win, and cover, at home.
Around the AFC East:
New England (2-0) vs. NY Jets (0-2)
Buffalo (2-0) vs. Cincinnati (0-2)
Miami (0-2) at Dallas (2-0)
Kansas City (2-0) vs. Baltimore (2-0)
Indianapolis (1-1) vs. Atlanta (1-1)
Cleveland (1-1) vs. LA Rams (2-0)
Houston (1-1) at LA Chargers (1-1)
Oakland (1-1) at Minnesota (1-1)
Tennessee (1-1) at Jacksonville (0-2)
Pittsburgh (0-2) at San Francisco (2-0)
Denver (0-2) at Green Bay (2-0)
1st - Staff (AP Pro32).
1st - Lindsay Jones (The Athletic): We knew this wouldn’t be a fair fight, and yet, somehow No. 1 New England vs. No. 32 Miami was even more lopsided than we imagined it would be. There was the Antonio Brown factor (three catches on the first drive, his first New England touchdown just before halftime) and an overwhelming defensive performance, including a pair of pick-sixes in a two-minute span in the fourth quarter. The Patriots have yet to allow a touchdown this season and are allowing just 1.5 points per game.
1st - Consensus (Bleacher Report): It’s hard to glean a lot from what the Patriots did to the hapless Dolphins in Week 2. It’s the NFL equivalent of Clemson playing Northeastern Montana Tech. But the Patriots also didn’t play a sloppy game in South Florida—a place where they have struggled in the past. There wasn’t any taking of feet off gas pedals. The Pats came to town, annihilated the ‘Fins and left. In two games this season, the defending champions have outscored Pittsburgh and Miami 76-3. Tom Brady and the offense have been lethally efficient. The defense has two more touchdowns than it has allowed this year. Oh, and in his Patriots debut, Antonio Brown led the team in receiving yards and found the end zone.
It’s a foregone conclusion that the Patriots will win the AFC East for the 43rd year in a row in 2019. The question now is with the Pats playing this well, can anyone beat them? It’s probably not happening anytime soon. New England doesn’t play a team that made the 2018 postseason until November.
1st - NFL Nation (ESPN): Pleasant surprise: The defense. After an offseason of chatter about who would take over for defensive playcaller Brian Flores -- and if Bill Belichick might be stretched thin with more oversight over the defense -- the unit has been stingy through two games, allowing only three points. The points-against pace can’t continue -- no defense has finished the season averaging 1.5 points allowed per game -- but there’s no reason to think the unit can’t continue its solid play as the competition level rises. It’s a versatile, talented group.
1st - Chris Grenham (NESN): The addition of Antonio Brown boosted New England’s offensive arsenal, but it was the Patriots’ defense that stole the show in Week 2. Yes, they played the lowly Miami Dolphins, but New England looks like a well-oiled machine through two games.
1st - Dan Hanzus (NFL.com): Through two weeks, the New England Patriots have outscored their opponents 76-3. That, my friends, is how you remain atop a Power Rankings exercise on the internet. Antonio Brown made his Patriots debut, finishing with four catches and the first touchdown reception of his career on a pass not thrown by Ben Roethlisberger. Mr. Big Chest fireworks aside, this was not a dominant performance by a Patriots offense in cruise control against a truly woeful Dolphins team. It’s a reminder that New England’s most talented unit is the defense, which you know just tickles an old DC like Bill Belichick. Maybe that explains why Belichick sent the house at Poor Josh Rosen (this is his official name now) on the last snap of a 43-0 game. The 16-0 talk will continue to build as the schedule stays soft next week, with a home date against the injury-ravaged Jets.
1st - MMQB Staff (SI): Everyone’s talking about Antonio Brown, but what about that defense? The Pats have allowed three points through two games. And here come Luke Falk’s Jets.
1st - Darryl Slater (NJ.com): The machine rolls on. Another Lombardi Trophy heading to New England?
1st - Peter Botte (NY Post): Are you less shocked that Antonio Brown scored a touchdown in his Patriots debut, or that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady essentially deflected all queries about their new toy’s off-field legal issues afterward? New England has cruised through two games by a 76-3 margin with the winless Jets on deck this weekend.
1st - Vinnie Iyer (Sporting News): The Patriots’ defense has been dominant, somehow an underrated storyline because of all the drama surrounding the acquisition of Antonio Brown. By the way, Tom Brady hasn’t lost anything, either (again).
1st - Doug Farrar (TouchdownWire): Yes, Antonio Brown made an impact against a Dolphins defense that was playing passive bail coverage against him and mysteriously refusing to give safety help over the top. More tanking evidence there, but when it comes to what makes the Patriots truly dangerous these days, it isn’t the offense at all — it’s a defense that scored two touchdowns in New England’s 43-0 thrashing of Miami and has allowed just six points in its past three games, including Super Bowl LIII. Whether Brown is able to stick and stay despite his many dramas, Bill Belichick’s defense is the team’s force multiplier at this point.
1st - Nate Davis (USA Today): They’ve never had the No. 1-ranked defense at season’s end during the tenure of Bill Belichick, who’s calling plays for the first time in nearly a decade. That could change for a squad that’s currently surrendering the fewest yards and points in the league.
1st - Mark Maske (Washington Post): The Patriots made WR Antonio Brown a big part of their offense from the outset of the lopsided win in Miami. They must decide how much to allow themselves to depend on Brown while the league’s decision about his playing status remains pending.
1st - Frank Schwab (Yahoo! Sports): I’m not sure what you can take from any win against the Dolphins, but it’s clear that as long as Antonio Brown is on the field, he’s going to elevate Tom Brady’s play. Not that Brady needed much help.