Another week, another thorough victory for the New England Patriots. Playing in Miami, a place that New England has thoroughly struggled in the past, New England’s defense stifled the Dolphins while the offense rolled in a 43-0 win. It was the first Patriots shutout since 2016 and a 27-0 win over the Houston Texans at home.
The last time the Patriots shut out Miami was in 2012, a 30-0 romp at Gillette Stadium. It is also the first road shutout since 2008, a 13-0 win over the Bills. Both of those games were in Week 17.
New England pulled ahead early on a Sony Michel rushing touchdown and got Antonio Brown involved with a second-quarter score. But it was the second half that saw the Patriots come alive posting 30 points while keeping the shutout alive. Here is what we observed about the Patriots in their second game.
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That Defense, Though?
The Patriots defense stood up to the test once again this week and has still not allowed a touchdown this season. In its last 12 quarters, including Super Bowl LIII, the Patriots allowed only six points. New England looked most impressive against a Dolphins offense that looked anemic at times. The Patriots allowed just 120 yards for the game including only 30 on the ground. In pass coverage, the Patriots had four interceptions, including a pair of pick-sixes by Stephon Gilmore and Jamie Collins.
Antonio Brown’s Strong Debut
The newest Patriots receiver, Antonio Brown, made his team debut in his hometown of Miami and did not disappoint. Doing all of his damage in the first half, Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown and also rushed once for five yards. He was targeted eight times but did not have a drop. Brown also drew a penalty on a route in the endzone as well. It’s an encouraging sign to see Brown adjusting and learning the Patriots offense so quickly.
Sony Back On Track
After an underwhelming opener, Sony Michel had a better game against the Dolphins, using his quick, power running style to gain 85 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. It was a big booster to the running game to have Michel playing so well with a makeshift offensive line. He had a host of complimentary runners as well, with seven different Patriots getting a carry. When Michel struggled, Rex Burkhead stepped in or the Patriots used an end-around to Brown or Julian Edelman. Michel did fumble, however, late in the game but that hasn’t been a prevalent issue during his early career.
Offensive Line Injuries Concerning
The Patriots’ depth on offensive line really got tested against the Dolphins when both starting tackles were forced out of action. Marcus Cannon, injured last week against Pittsburgh could not play on Sunday and left tackle Isaiah Wynn suffered a foot injury that forced him out of action in the first half. That left Korey Cunningham and Marshall Newhouse, both relatively new to the team, into primary playing time. The duo faired well but did allow a few pressures and each took a penalty. It’s a real test of depth if Wynn and Cannon are out of action for an extended period of time, especially with center David Andrews already out for the year.
Stephen Gostkowski Struggles
The veteran kicker missed a few field goals in preseason play but went 4 for 4 in the regular-season opener to seemingly dispell any concern. That was until Sunday in Miami. Gostkowski missed an early 48-yard field goal and followed that up with two missed extra-points. He later made amends by nailing another shorter field goal. But if the trend of these misses from 40-plus yards continues, it may result in a difficult decision down the line for the Patriots.