BOSTON (CBS) — Antonio Brown made his debut for the Patriots on Sunday, but it was the New England defense that dominated in Miami.
There was no “Miracle in Miami” for the Dolphins this year. Instead, it was a massacre, as the Patriots crushed the Dolphins 43-0 to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Tom Brady found his new target four of the eight times that he went his way, with Brown hauling in a 20-yard touchdown just ahead of halftime to give the Pats a 13-0 lead. Brown finished with four receptions and led the way with 56 yards, but did not make a catch in the second half.
Brady finished his day with 264 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. He also snuck one into the end zone from a yard out in the third quarter to put the Patriots on top 23-0. The QB avoided any of the usual demons that haunt him in Miami, picking up just his second win in his last seven visits.
But it was the New England defense that deserves most of the attention from Sunday’s win. Miami picked up just 184 yards on Sunday, finishing the day with just 11 first downs — most of which came when the rout was on in the fourth quarter. They moved the chains just twice in the first half.
Just when it looked like Miami was going to pick up their first first down of the second half, Stephon Gilmore jumped in front of a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown, putting New England on top 30-0. Gilmore also tipped a pass early in the third quarter that ended up in the hands of Devin McCourty.
Jamie Collins took advantage of another Miami miscue on their next drive, picking off a ball that went off the hands of Kalen Ballage and returning it 69 yards for a touchdown of his own. The linebacker also picked off the final pass of the game as Miami looked to avoid the shutout, giving the Patriots four takeaways on the day.
New England sacked Miami quarterbacks seven times on Sunday, with Adam Butler leading the way with two. Rookie Chase Winovich was credited with 1.5 sacks, Michael Bennett, John Simon and Danny Shelton each had one, and Collins was credited with half-a-sack.
Miami was just 2-for-15 on third downs in the blowout. Dating back to the Super Bowl, the Patriots defense has now kept their opponents out of the end zone for 12 straight quarters.
The Patriots have another AFC East matchup next weekend, when they host the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium.