- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2008

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. | Fans booed the Patriots. Many left early. The record winning streak of their favorite team was ending with a stunning domination by the lowly 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 New England 38-13 on Sunday.

“It’s brutal, man, brutal,” Patriots defensive end Ty Warren said of his team’s worst home defeat since moving in to Gillette Stadium in 2002.

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 has 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. He was sacked three times.

“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.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide