By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — There are a lot of adjectives that can describe Sunday’s 31-24 Patriots win over the Miami Dolphins.
Exciting. Entertaining. Frustrating. Irritating. Migraine-inducing.
Jimmy Garoppolo was phenomenal, until he got knocked out with a shoulder injury that ended his day (and potentially his season). That meant rookie third-stringer Jacoby Brissett was under center the rest of the way, a tough situation that would lead to most teams wilting.
That nearly happened, too. The offense struggled, which was to be expected with a rookie QB taking the snaps, but the defense was even worse. Luckily, the Patriots had built up a big enough lead that they could survive a putrid second half from their defense, and in the end, the New England escaped with a 31-24 win in their home opener to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Here’s what we liked, and what we didn’t like, from New England’s win on Sunday:
Jimmy Looked Good…
Now we just have to hope he can come back soon. Garoppolo was awesome in his second career start, and it looked like he was getting the ball out even quicker than he did last week in Arizona (minus that one play, of course). He had his second straight 100+ yard first quarter, and finished the day with 234 passing yards and three touchdowns while completing 18 of his 27 pass attempts. Those are pretty good numbers for a QB playing a full game, let alone a guy who got knocked out in the second quarter.
Brissett Holds His Own
Having a rookie third-stringer come in and operate an offense that was absolutely rolling over the Miami defense is no easy task, but Brissett did what he had to do. He finished 6-for-9 with 92 passing yards while running for 12 yards on four carries. He looked like a rookie at times, but didn’t make many mistakes (aside from a near fumble) and helped the Pats hang on for the win.
Still, expect the Patriots to sign a veteran QB in the next day — if not sooner. Get that private jet fired up, Mr. Kraft.
The Patriots needed someone to step up, and LeGarrette Blount took that torch. He rushed for 123 yards on 29 carries, including a nine-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and added another highlight to his resume if he ever considers jumping into the world of Olympic hurdling:
Bennett Catches On
Martellus Bennett was once again a blocking machine for the New England offense, but he also got involved in the passing game. Bennett led receivers with 114 yards and a touchdown on five catches, including a 20-yard touchdown from Garoppolo in the first quarter to put New England on top 14-0.
Jimmy Goes Down…
This puts the Patriots in an extremely tough spot, with their next game just four days away. We’ll see if Brissett gets the start, or if a veteran QB (or two) is brought in and takes over for as long as Garoppolo is out/until Tom Brady comes back.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Jamie Collins and Patrick Chung were dinged up when they collided in the end zone. Both returned, but any injury is made much more difficult given the fact the Patriots are working on a short week. It also doesn’t help that Rob Gronkowski was inactive for the second straight week, and linebacker Dont’a Hightower missed the game with a knee injury he suffered in Week 1.
Bad 2nd Half For Defense
They didn’t get any pressure on Tannehill, and he picked them apart. The frustrating QB started the second half completing 20 of his first 21 pass attempts, leading to 24-unanswered points for Miami. The finish to this one was much more frustrating than it had to be due to the defense’s horrible effort in the second half.
Justin Coleman was at the forefront of the defense’s struggles in the second half, getting beat on several big plays. He was burned on Kenny Stills’ touchdown, and again on a 33-yard catch by Jarvis Landry late in the third quarter.
The Pats could have made things a whole lot easier following a nice drive late in the fourth quarter, with a chance to make it a two-score game, but Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39-yarder.
Not a good follow up for the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week last week.