|Dolphins Shock Patriots With Road Win|
|Written by mark|
|Sunday, 21 September 2008 20:06|
Fans booed the Patriots. Many left early. The record winning streak of their favorite team was ending with a stunning domination by the lowly Miami Dolphins.
Ronnie Brown scored a team-record four touchdowns rushing and threw for another - with four of the scores coming on direct snaps to the running back - as Miami shocked the New England Patriots 38-13 Sunday.
``It's brutal, man, brutal,'' Patriots defensive end Ty Warren said.
The loss ended the Patriots' NFL mark of 21 straight regular-season wins that began after a 21-0 loss to the Dolphins on Dec. 10, 2006, in which Tom Brady, now sidelined for the season with a knee injury, was sacked four times. It also ended New England's chance for a second straight unbeaten regular season.
The Dolphins, who lost their first 13 games last year and finished 1-15, won for just the second time in 22 games. It was the first victory for new coach Tony Sparano, and it was a stunner.
``That was fun. It was obviously a pretty emotional deal,'' he said. ``They executed the game plan on both sides of the ball to perfection.''
The Patriots kept getting fooled by the same trickery: six direct snaps resulting in four touchdowns after the Dolphins didn't use the play in their other two games.
``When they get settled, they're pretty fundamentally sound as a defense,'' said Brown, who scored on runs of 2, 15, 5 and 62 yards. ``So we wanted to give them something to adjust to.''
The Patriots never did.
``I don't know why in the world we couldn't stop that play. They just came in and beat our butts,'' safety Rodney Harrison said. ``You've got a bitter taste in your mouth. The only way to get rid of that bitterness is to come in and work hard. You get bitter and you get better.''
The Patriots didn't have Brady to lead a winning comeback as he's done 28 times in the fourth quarter. They had to rely on Matt Cassel and an offense missing running back Laurence Maroney to a shoulder injury, and that was far from enough.
Brown gained 113 yards on 17 carries and the Dolphins outgained the Patriots 461 yards to 216 in both teams' last game before their bye week.
Miami's Chad Pennington went 17-for-20 for 226 yards. Cassel completed 19 of 31 passes for 131 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a lost fumble.
``We have to go out and regroup,'' Cassel said. ``It is a learning situation for me playing from behind.''
Both New England (2-1) and Miami (1-2) have changed dramatically since last season.
Brady was lost for the year in the first quarter of the opener, and Cassel made his first start since high school in a 19-10 win at the New York Jets. Pennington is one of 27 Dolphins who were not on the team at the end of last season.
After the Dolphins punted on their first series, the former Jets quarterback led them on drives of 74, 79 and 77 yards, ending in Brown's first three touchdowns. The Patriots managed just two field goals by Stephen Gostkowski, covering 37 and 44 yards, and trailed 21-6 at halftime.
The Patriots got tricked again when Brown took another snap, rolled out and threw a left-handed pass to Anthony Fasano for a 19-yard touchdown as Miami opened a 28-6 bulge in the third quarter.
``You should have seen his last pass in practice,'' Pennington said with a smile. ``It wasn't very pretty.''
The Patriots' play was downright ugly.
``Believe me,'' coach Bill Belichick said of Brown's pass, ``there were a lot of other problems besides that.''
Cassel then threw his first touchdown pass of the year in 11 quarters of play when he connected with Jabar Gaffney for 4 yards.
The Dolphins got that back with a big, and familiar, play: a direct snap that Brown carried 62 yards to the final touchdown.
Miami even had the edge on pregame trash talk.
On Wednesday, linebacker Joey Porter said beating the Patriots without Brady ``shouldn't be that hard.'' Then Porter made the play that would set the tone for the game when he sacked Cassel for a 5-yard loss on a first-and-goal play at the 7. The crowd booed Porter.
On the next two plays, Cassel was sacked by Phillip Merling and threw an interception to defensive end Randy Starks that set up the first touchdown drive.
Porter got to Cassel again on the next-to-last play of the half for an 8-yard sack.
``You really don't realize how good Tom Brady is until he's not out there,'' Porter said. ``Not taking anything away from Matt Cassel, but those are tough shoes to fill.''
The crowd booed once more when the teams went off the field at halftime, this time directing its feelings at a team that went on to lose for the first time in 16 home games, including playoffs, back to a 17-14 loss to the Jets - and Pennington - on Nov. 12, 2006.
``I wasn't up on those records or how long they were winning. I know we had a two-game losing streak,'' Porter said. ``When we're out there playing like we did today, I feel we can be a tough team to beat.''
Notes:Ellis Hobbs set a Patriots record with 237 yards on six kickoff returns. ... The 25-point loss was New England's biggest in seven seasons at Gillette Stadium. It outscored opponents by an average of 19 points per game last year. ... Miami allowed a total of 216 yards overall after giving up an average of 272.5 yards passing in its first two games.
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