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(Monday, October 4th)
Final Score: New England 41, Miami 14
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Patrick Chung blocked two kicks in the second half and returned an interception 51 yards for a touchdown in the final quarter, powering New England to a 41-14 win over the Miami Dolphins.
Chung had the type of game most defensive backs could only dream of, but the second year player out of Oregon had a factor in 21 of New England's 35 second-half points.
Shortly after Brandon Tate ran the opening kickoff of the second half 103 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, Chung blocked a punt, which led to a 12-yard TD run by BenJarvus Green-Ellis. In the opening minute of the fourth, Chung blocked a field goal attempt and Kyle Arrington rumbled 35 yards with the recovery to the end zone.
"It says a lot about our hard work and how dedicated and devoted we are," Arrington said. "Special teams as you can see is as important phase of the game as offense and defense. We got a couple touchdowns off it and that was a big lift for us."
Tom Brady connected on 19-of-24 passes for 153 yards and a score for the Patriots (3-1). It was the 100th win for Brady, as the two-time Super Bowl MVP became the 11th NFL QB to reach the milestone and the quickest ever. He did it in 131 starts, surpassing the mark of his boyhood idol Joe Montana, who needed 139 games to reach the century mark in victories.
"I've played on a great team for my entire career," Brady said. "The same organization that is committed to winning. I'm privileged to be the quarterback for this team, I hope I'm here forever."
Chad Henne finished 29-of-39 through the air for 302 yards with two TDs and three interceptions, two of those going to linebacker Rob Ninkovich. Davone Bess caught nine balls for 93 yards and a score for the Dolphins (2-2).
Tate went the distance on the second half kickoff, receiving a key block from Sammy Morris and going virtually untouched down right sideline to give New England a 13-7 lead. It was his second kickoff return for a score this year with the first coming in similar fashion. He also ran the second half-opening kickoff 97 yards for a score against Cincinnati in the season opener.
"Brandon's been close several times this year, close to the one in Cincinnati," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said of Tate's game-breaking speed. "He's been close a couple of other times and he doesn't need much room."
Miami went three-and-out on its next possession, and Chung broke through the line to block the ensuing punt from Brandon Fields. That gave the Pats the ball at the 15, and two plays later Green-Ellis scored on a 12-yard draw up the middle.
The offenses for both teams then got in high gear. The Dolphins moved the ball 80 yards in eight plays, capped by Henne's short pass to Ricky Williams, who rumbled 28 yards for a touchdown to get Miami within 20-14.
The Patriots responded with Brady throwing a short ball over the middle to Danny Woodhead for an 11-yard score with 4:02 left in the third to finish a 12-play, 78-yard march. Replays showed Woodhead's rear end may have been down before the goal line, but the Dolphins didn't challenge the call.
Dan Carpenter set up for a 53-yard field goal on Miami's next possession, but Chung came through unblocked and deflected the kick, which was eventually picked up by Arrington, who went to the end zone 55 seconds into the fourth. The Patriots lined up for a two-point conversion try, but after a false start, Stephen Gostkowski kicked the extra point for a 34-14 lead.
"Exactly what we executed," Chung said. "I mean just looping people. People picking people up. It opened up just like coach drew it up on the board so you execute and things like that happen. You just got to take advantage of the opportunity."
The Dolphins then gave the ball back to the Patriots as Ronnie Brown was stopped short on a fourth down reception at the Miami 45. On Miami's next possession, Chung picked off Henne on a pass intended for Brandon Marshall and surged to the end zone with 6 1/2 minutes remaining.
"Just too many big negative plays, couldn't overcome them," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said.
For good measure, Jarrad Page picked off Miami QB Tyler Thigpen at the New England 23 and the Patriots ran the final 4:36 off the clock.
After the teams exchanged punts on their first possessions, the Dolphins marched 64 yards in seven plays, culminated by Henne's 19-yard TD pass to Bess. The 3rd-and-8 connection went to the right side, where Bess caught the short pass and managed to dive inside the pylon with 5:48 left in the quarter.
The Patriots had a 36-yard pass to tight end Aaron Hernandez nullified by a holding penalty, and the Dolphins forced another punt. However, Ninkovich came up with his first career interception, receiving the ball in front of Marshall.
"We just didn't execute in all phases and I'll take that one as the quarterback," Henne said. "I'll put that on my shoulders and just watch the film and try to improve on it."
After the turnover, the Patriots mustered a Gostkowski a 23-yard field goal with 7:13 left until halftime.
Ninkovich thwarted another Miami possession later in the half by stepping in front of Patrick Cobbs for a second interception, this one at the New England 25. The Patriots also turned that into points, on Gostkowski's 30-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
The Patriots nearly put the ball in the end zone before the end of the half with some trickery from Brady. Just as ex-Dolphin Dan Marino did it to the Jets in 1994 by faking a clock-killing spike and throwing for a touchdown, Brady almost pulled off the feat. Following a first-down connection to Wes Welker that moved the ball to the 12, Brady motioned that he was going to spike the ball, but instead threw to Randy Moss with the ball going off the veteran wide receiver's finger tips on the left side of the end zone with eight seconds left. Brady was sacked on the next play, and after a timeout Gostkowski's kick had the visitors within a point.
"We left a lot of plays and points out there," Bess said. "We had opportunities to go up. We didn't finish, we didn't execute. We made some poor decisions, everybody did."
Welker had eight receptions for 70 yards for the Patriots. He has a streak of 67 straight regular season games with at least one reception. The last time he did not catch a pass in a game was December 24, 2005 when he played for the Dolphins...It's the first time Moss didn't have a reception since November 19, 2006...The Patriots' record for kickoff returns for touchdowns in a season is three, set by Raymond Clayborn in 1977...This was the first blocked punt by a Patriot since Kelley Washington against the Jets on December 16, 2007...The Patriots are 12-33 all-time in Miami...Brady's current record as a starter is 100-31, including 41-11 against AFC East opponents...Both teams will go into the bye week with New England to host Baltimore in its next game, while the Dolphins will play at Green Bay...Marshall had five catches for 50 yards, while Brown was limited to 27 yards on 11 carries.
10/05 01:54:46 ET
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