It’s been over a decade since the New England Patriots lost their season opener. It happened back in 2003 and now again in 2014, courtesy of the Miami Dolphins. Few gave Miami a shot leading into this one, as they seem to be eternal underdogs when it comes to facing the AFC East powerhouse that is New England.
Sunday’s tilt started off in favor of the Fins after an early blocked punt by Dolphins LB Chris McCain led to a Lamar Miller touchdown. Things got a bit dicey for the home team after that, though. Brady methodically led his squad back up the field and had the Patriots leading the Dolphins 20-10 at the half.
Then, the second half rolled around. Whatever Joe Philbin told his players in the locker room at halftime worked like a charm. Miami came bursting out of the gates in the 3rd quarter, finally establishing a strong run game that has been seemingly extinct for over a year now. Once Bill Lazor and the offense began handing the ball off to newcomer Knowshon Moreno, the script flipped in a major way. Moreno began to gash the patriots for big gain after big gain and the momentum was clearly in favor of the Fins. The success in the run game was a sight for sore eyes for Dolphins fans. Last year, Miami only enjoyed two games where a single running back eclipsed 100 yards. In the week 1 opener, Moreno rushed the ball 24 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. While the run game did its damage in the second half, it was really that revamped offensive line that paved the way for the Dolphins victory. The offensive line beat down and bullied New England’s D-line, making them look withered and winded. Not even big Vince Wilfork could stop Miami from moving the ball, as the Dolphins went on to score 23 unanswered points after being down by 10 at the half.
Let it be known, the Dolphins don’t just owe this victory to their O-line but to the D-line as well. There’s no getting around the fact that this entire game was won at the line of scrimmage. Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake made the legendary Tom Brady look like a rookie in week 1 with constant, unrelenting pressure. Cameron Wake broke through the line for a total of 3 sacks in the win. This helped Ryan Tannehill out-duel Brady and cause the future hall of famer to finish with only 249 yards and a lone touchdown pass.
Brady needs to man up and shut off the tear factory, it was one game.
If Miami continues to control the line of scrimmage this season, the team can certainly hope to enjoy a great deal of success. Even when Mike Wallace is dropping balls and Lamar Miller is fumbling, the battle at the line of scrimmage takes precedent and it is where the Miami Dolphins will live or die in 2014. When the O-line is performing well, it opens up the run game. When the run game is picking up big chunks of yardage, the passing games endures more success and Mike Wallace & company have a greater chance of getting open.
If this week 1 win is a sign of things to come, Miami should have no problem improving on last season’s mediocre record and making some serious noise come playoff time. For now, Fins fans are looking up and the future seems bright.
Miami hopes to continue its success next week in Buffalo versus a Bills team that stomped Miami twice last year behind backup quarterback Thad Lewis.
Knowshon Moreno: 134 yards, 1 touchdown.
Cameron Wake: 2 sacks.
Mike Wallace: 7 catches, 81 yards, 1 touchdown.