MIAMI, FL — Tom Brady may have gotten a good taste of what Drew Bledsoe has had to deal with over the last couple of seasons on Sunday.
The 2nd-year quarterback made his second NFL start on Sunday and found himself under constant pressure, including being sacked four times by a tenacious Miami defense that also forced three fumbles, two of which Brady himself lost. He finished the afternoon 12-for-24 for 87 yards, and will probably wake up pretty sore on Monday after being battered all afternoon, including taking a shot from Dolphins defensive end Lorenzo Bromell who was called for roughing the passer after that play early in the fourth quarter.
The Patriots offense only managed to gain a little over 150 yards total, and put together just one scoring drive which resulted in a 37-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri. They were shut out over the final 36 minutes, and after getting behind 27-10 early in the third third quarter they were forced to abandon the running game which up to that point had been having some success with. At that point they had to come out throwing the football in order to try and get back into the game and unfortunately for Brady Miami’s secondary gave him absolutely no one to throw to.
Despite how much Brady and the offense struggled Belichick said after the game that he never thought about replacing him with former Dolphins qb and current back up Damon Huard.
The Dolphins meanwhile had no trouble with their running game. Lamar Smith carried 29 times, scored a touchdown and broke 100 yards rushing for the first time this season. He also caught three passes for 23 yards, and helped keep the ball away from the Patriots for most of the second half.
Head coach Bill Belichick said afterwards that the Dolphins simply played a much better game.
“We just got our butts kicked today,” said Belichick. “I thought that Miami played a really good football game. We just didn’t play as well as they did, not even close.”
“We gave away a lot of points and just handed them a lot of opportunities. We handed them some points on the board, and you can’t do that against a good football team. ”
New England took an early 7-0 lead early in the first quarter after linebacker Mike Vrabel picked off a Jay Fiedler pass intended for receiver Oronde Gadsden at the Dolphins 25-yard line and returned it all the way to the 10-yard line. Two plays later Antowain Smith ran it in from 9-yards out and gave the Patriots the lead.
But Miami answered on their next possession, putting together a 14-play, 80-yard drive in which the Dolphins held the ball for nearly nine minutes. That march culminated in a Lamar Smith touchdown and the Dolphins tied the game 7-7.
On the following Miami drive the Dolphins went three and out, but Troy Brown was unable to handle the punt and Terry Cousin recovered the fumble at New England’s 9-yard line. The Patriots defense was able to hold them to a field goal and the lead was increased to 10-7.
New England then put together a 13-play, 56-yard drive where they themselves would hold the football for nearly 8 minutes, Adam Vinatieri nailed a 37-yard field goal to knot the game at 10-10 with just over six and a half minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter.
It was the last time they would put any points on the board.
Down 20-10 late in the third quarter after a Jed Weaver touchdown and a 34-yard Olindo Mare field goal, Brady tried to put together a scoring drive to cut the lead to three. But on a 2nd-and-10 play from their own 15-yard line, Brady fumbled the ball on the snap and Jason Taylor recovered at the one yard line. He went on to run it in for a touchdown, putting the game away for Miami.
This time last week everyone was beaming with euphoria following New England’s 44-13 dismantling of the Indianapolis Colts. We heard people talk about how great of a quarterback Brady was. We heard about how his team rallied around him and that’s why the game went the way it did. Sunday proved that again it doesn’t matter who is in that backfield taking the snaps, without protection or any weapons they’re a sitting duck.
That’s just what Brady was on Sunday.