FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The most productive offensive game in the New England Patriots‘ 52-year history drew the same old analysis from coach Bill Belichick.
Some good, some bad.
Belichick found some room for improvement after Tom Brady threw for a career-best 517 yards and the offense piled up a franchise-record 622 in Monday night’s 38-24 season-opening win over the Miami Dolphins.
“We had the ball on the 1-yard line ready to score a touchdown and we end up getting knocked out of field goal range and couldn’t get a field goal before the half,” Belichick said Tuesday.
He didn’t like the ending of the game either.
“We really weren’t able to close out the game at the end of the game with a couple of first downs that we could have made,” he said. “The good thing was, offensively, whenever Miami scored or started to change the momentum of the game a little bit, our offense was able to come back and drive the ball and score points and change that momentum around, so that was great.”
With Brady operating out of the no-huddle for much of the game, the Dolphins couldn’t always make the substitutions they wanted or set up their defense the way they would have liked.
“It’s great that we could take advantage of it, but those opportunities won’t always be there,” Belichick said. “I’m sure as teams get more experienced with their communication and get further into the season, you’ll see less and less of that.
“We’re just trying to keep ironing out all the little details and that’s really across the board. It’s offense, defense, special teams. There are always things on every play, even good plays, that a lot of times aren’t done quite properly and had the (opposing) defense or the offense been in (a) different play or done things a little bit differently, then we would have had a problem.”
The Dolphins, though, didn’t cause enough problems for the Patriots.
Brady threw four touchdown passes. Two went to Wes Welker, including a 99-yarder in which he ran most of the way. Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez scored the other two.
But Brady knows a hurry-up offense can cause problems for the team using it.
“It’s a fine line between putting pressure on a defense and playing out of control,” he said. “I thought at times we did both and you never really want to play out of control on offense. It was a good pace at times, but other times they adjusted to it. We’ve also got to find ways to execute better.”
Perhaps the costliest play on offense for the Patriots came when center Dan Koppen hurt his left ankle when Brady sneaked ahead for a first down late in the first half. He was driven off the field on a cart and Dan Connolly replaced him for the rest of the game.
Koppen, who returned to the Patriots sideline in the second half on crutches, is expected to miss a substantial amount of time.
“Dan’s a guy that obviously has played a lot of football for us at a very important position. So, that’s not something that’s an easy thing to adjust to,” offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien said. “I’m very confident in Dan (Connolly) and what he’s going to be able to do for us.”
Belichick gave no update on Koppen’s injury. But the team is checking available offensive linemen not on the active roster.
“We evaluate our roster and all our options every week, especially early in the season when there are more options available,” Belichick said. “With each succeeding week, options start to diminish. The players that are available, that number decreases, and so forth. Every week, we’re looking at the players on our practice squad, we’re looking at other players.”
The Patriots play their home opener Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, who beat the Minnesota Vikings 24-17 on Sunday after trailing 17-7 at halftime. Perhaps more important, though? San Diego’s defense seems stronger than Miami’s.
“They’re an aggressive defense,” O’Brien said. “They’ve got a lot of good players at every position.”
And less than 24 hours after the Patriots’ record-setting performance, he was eager to leave it behind.
“I just am thinking about San Diego and, really, whatever happened (Monday) night, I’m telling you, it really doesn’t matter as it relates to San Diego,” O’Brien said. “Every week in this league is a different week and, hopefully, this will be the last time that I’m talking about Miami until the next time we play Miami.”
And with a short week of practice between the Monday night and Sunday games, Belichick already is working on fixing the problems he encountered.
“It was our first regular-season game and … it was nice to come out of it with a win, but we know (each) week it’s going to get tougher, especially with the Chargers this week,” Belichick said. “They’re a real good football team.”
“There are a lot of things to improve on, a lot of little things,” he said. “It’s a detail-oriented game and, again, this is the week to really try to improve it because this is a heck of a defense that we’re going against on Sunday against San Diego.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)