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Postgame notes from Patriots-Dolphins

10.05.10 at 5:26 am ET
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Thanks to the Patriots PR staff, here are some postgame notes from Monday’s Patriots-Dolphins contest:

S PATRICK CHUNG RECORDS FIRST NFL BLOCKED PUNT AND BLOCKED FIELD GOAL
S Patrick Chung blocked a second half punt and field goal. He blocked a second half punt to give the Patriots a first down at the Miami 15-yard line to set up a 12-yard touchdown run by RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. It is the first blocked punt by a Patriots player since Kelley Washington vs. NY Jets on Dec. 16, 2007. Chung blocked a 53-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter that was recovered by CB Kyle Arrington and returned for a touchdown. It is the first blocked field goal for the Patriots since Richard Seymour had a block vs. Chicago on Nov. 26, 2006. Chung was a two-time special teams player of the year during his college career at Oregon. He blocked two punts in 2007 while at Oregon.

CHUNG SCORES HIS FIRST NFL TOUCHDOWN ON A 51-YARD TOUCHDOWN
Chung picked off a Chad Henne pass in the fourth quarter and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown. It marked his first interception returned for a touchdown and the second touchdown off an interception for the Patriots in 2010. Gary Guyton returned an interception 59 yards for a score in the season-opener vs. Cincinnati (9/12).
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Special teams deliver knockout blow for Patriots

10.05.10 at 12:40 am ET
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — On a night where they needed them the most, the Patriots special teams unit came through with one of the most impressive performances in franchise history.

Pat Chung blocked a punt and field goal attempt, Brandon Tate delivered a 103-yard kick return for a touchdown, Stephen Gostkowski had five touchbacks and a pair of field goals, and Zoltan Mesko had three punts averaging 41 yards a boot, including a 60-yarder. Their work helped silence the 69,090 on hand at Landshark Stadium and spark the Patriots to a 41-14 win over the Dolphins Monday night in Miami.

Asked about the special teams performance after the game, coach Bill Belichick gave a deadpan response before breaking into a big smile.

“They were all right,” Belichick said with a straight face before breaking into a smile. “It was a great effort. Those guys really work hard. They work hard every week in practice, with [special teams coach] Scott O’Brien. They go through a lot of little things. They really do a good job of preparing, and I was really happy with the success they had tonight. The plays they made helped out team. Those kids worked hard. They deserve it.”

While Gostkowski connected on a pair of first half field goals (23 and 30 yards) and added a touchback for good measure, the lightning struck at the start of the second half when Tate delivered a 103-yard kick return to open the third quarter and give New England a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. It was the second kick return for a touchdown for Tate (he had a 97-yarder to open the second half of the season opener against the Bengals), and his third, if you include one he ripped off in the preseason against the Rams.

Tate has scored two touchdowns on kick returns in four games this year, the most by a Patriot since Kevin Faulk had two in 2002.

“Coming out at halftime, we was getting the ball and coach said, ‘We need a big play.’ I told coach, ‘I got you,’ ” Tate said. “I give all credit to my other teammates out their for doing their assignments. If it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t be possible. It was a big play for us. We just kept going from there.

“I give credit to everybody else out there who freed me up.”

On the next sequence, Miami went three-and-out and was forced to punt. Chung busted through the line and had little trouble knocking down the ball, allowing New England to pick up the ball on its own 15-yard line. (At first glance, it appeared that Miami’s Bobby Carpenter missed a blocking assignment.) The Patriots cashed in two plays later, giving the ball to BenJarvus Green-Ellis for a 12-yard touchdown run that made it 20-7.

The teams traded scores relatively quickly to make it 27-14 at the end of the third quarter. Chung struck again at the start of the fourth when he knocked down a 53-yard field goal attempt by Miami’s Dan Carpenter, beating Miami’s Joe Berger. Kyle Arrington scooped up the ball and scooted 35 yards for the touchdown, making the score 34-14 with almost a full quarter left to play and sending most of Landshark Stadium heading for the exits.

In his career, Chung said he had never had a game like this.

“No, but it feels great,” said Chung, who punctuated his evening with a 51-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second half. “I just have to give thanks to the man upstairs. He really blessed me.

“We executed,” added Chung. “It opened up just like coach drew up on the board. When you execute like that, you have to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Chung, who calls special teams “a legalized, 40-yard fistfight,” said the two blocks went down just like the Patriots planned.

“It was something that coach saw. We practice … all those blocks and people doing their job allowing me to make the play, I give it to all them. If they’re not doing their job, nothing happens. We executed, [just like] coach drew it up, and it happened just like it did.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Tate, pat chung, Scott O'Brien

Bill Belichick: ‘I wasn’t surprised, but I guess everybody else is’

10.05.10 at 12:16 am ET
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Speaking after his team’s 41-14 rout of the Dolphins Monday night in Miami, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick insisted the Pats believed his team could turn in such a performance, although he believed others might have doubted them.

“No, I wasn’t that surprised, but I guess everybody else is,” said Belichick when asked if he was surprised his team was able to put up 35 second-half points. “You make plays, you score points. You don’t make it, you don’t score them.” After pointing out that the Patriots have now won three of their last four games in Miami, Belichick continued, “I think our team is confident we can win. I know we don’t do it every time, but we think we can.”

The victory was unique considering the Patriots were the only team in NFL history to score on a blocked field goal, kickoff return, touchdown run, touchdown pass, interception return, and field goal.

“It’s a good day for fantasy football,” Belichick joked.

The Patriots’ coach cracked a smile earlier in his post-game press conference when asked about the performance of his special teams, which was led by Patrick Chung (blocked punt and field goal) and Brandon Tate (kickoff return for a touchdown).

“Thought they were alright,” joked Belichick. “No, it was a great effort. Those guys really work hard. They work hard every week in practice. Scott O’Brien goes through a lot of little things and they do a great job of preparing. I was really happy with the success they had tonight. The plays they made tonight helped our team. Those kids worked hard. They deserved it.”

Asked about the huge roar that could be heard from the Patriots locker room following the win, Belichick explained, “Just congratulated them on the win. They deserved it. They were the better team tonight. They deserved to win. They played hard and made more plays than Miami did.”

For more coverage from the Patriots’ win, see the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Snap Judgments: Patriots 41, Dolphins 14

10.04.10 at 11:42 pm ET
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This time Tom Brady got a big-time assist from a big-play special teams unit to help overcome a porous first-half defense as the Patriots claimed a crucial 41-14 win over the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. The Patriots improve to 3-1 and tie the Jets for first in the AFC East while the Dolphins lost their second straight AFC East game at home and fell to 2-2.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

– The best special teams performance in team history and one of the best ever in the NFL. The Patriots blocked a punt, returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown, and got a 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown from Brandon Tate to open the second half as the Patriots rolled to a much-needed AFC East road win. It was the first time in NFL history a team scored via a blocked field goal, kickoff return and interception.

Patrick Chung blocked a pair of Dolphin kicks, the second on a 53-yard field goal attempt that was returned 35 yards by Kyle Arrington for a fourth-quarter touchdown. Chung also returned an interception for a touchdown to finish off the scoring, the third pick of Chad Henne on the night.

- Rob Ninkovich knows how to read. The linebacker admitted after the game that Dolphins quarterback Henne was telegraphing his passes and staring down his receivers. Two big reasons for his first two interceptions of his career.

- Brandon Tate continues to blow past the competition. Tate’s 103-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half completely changed the complexion of the game. It was six-yards more than his kickoff return to open the second half against the Bengals on opening day but more crucial. The Patriots were embarrassing the unprepared and overmatched Bengals that day and that salted the game away. This time, the Patriots came out of the locker room down, 7-6, and the Patriots couldn’t get into the end zone.

Then Sammy Morris blew up Roberto Wallace as Tate made a cross field cut at the 30 and Tate read it perfectly. He hit the seam and went up the right sideline – just like the Cincinnati game – scored his second career TD. It was second-longest kickoff return in team history, bested only by Ellis Hobbs’ 108-yard return against the Jets on opening day in 2007.

“Coach said we needed a big play and I said, ‘We got you.’” Tate said.

- Chip off the old block. From Vince Wilfork to Tom Brady to coach Bill Belichick, there was a big case of disrespect being played up in the team’s postgame speech. Why? Because in the latest edition of “Patriots Football Weekly” – the publication of the Patriots of all things – every ‘expert’ picked Miami to win, even ‘Flip LeChance.’

“Yeah, it’s going to be there for a while, I think,” Brady said. “We have a lot of chips.”

Then there was this from Bill Belichick when asked if he was surprised his team outscored the Dolphins, 35-7, in the second half.

“Nah, I wasn’t surprised but I guess everyone else was,” Belichick quipped.

- Brady became the fastest to 100 wins as a starting quarterback in NFL history, reaching the milestone in just his 131st game.

WHAT WENT WRONG

– The special teams explosion overshadowed a porous defense that gave up huge chunks of yards in the first half. If it weren’t for Ninkovich, the Dolphins likely would’ve had 21 points in the first half and the complexion of the game would’ve been entirely different.

– Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, a standout in his rookie season last year, had the most forgettable night of his career. He was abused when the game was tight by linebacker Cameron Wake, one of the hits was a crushing blow to Brady that forced the Patriots to settle for a field goal.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chad Henne, Kyle Arrington, Miami Dolphins

Halftime Analysis: Dolphins 7, Patriots 6

10.04.10 at 9:58 pm ET
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — With two quarters in the books here at Sun Life Stadium, the Dolphins hold a 7-6 lead on the Patriots. Here are a few quick notes:

In a game that had all the earmarks of a shootout, both teams have played a tight, evenly-matched defensive contest through the first two quarters. The defensive star of the evening is linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who has intercepted Miami quarterback Chad Henne twice — one on a ball meant for Brandon Marshall, the other on a pass intended for Patrick Cobbs.

In all, it was a good first half for New England’s special teams: Zoltan Mesko delivered a pair of big punts, while Stephen Gostkowski put one kickoff in the end zone and added a pair of field goals, one from 23 and the second from 30 yards out.

Miami got on the board first — on its second drive of the evening, Henne engineered a seven-play, 64-yard drive that ended when the quarterback connected with Davone Bess on a 19-yard touchdown strike with just under six minutes to go that made it 7-0 Miami. A good, consistent drive where the Dolphins were able to move the ball with ease.

Defensively, the Patriots have been able to hold wide receiver Brandon Marshall in check — he has no catches through the first two quarters. New England has tried to remain as physical as possible with Marshall early, and the Patriots were able to come away with their first turnover of the night on a Henne pass that was meant for Marshall in the first quarter. Ninkovich stepped in front of the play and came away with the pick that gave New England the ball on its own 40-yard line.

The Patriots were able to do a nice job of cashing that in when Brady put together a 16-play drive that included several successful third-down conversions, including a run from BenJarvus Green-Ellis and a pass to rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez. It ended with a 23-yard field goal from Gostkowski to make it 7-3 with 7:13 left in the first half.

Defensively, the Patriots have flashed multiple looks — at the start of the game, nose tackle Vince Wilfork was lined up at end and Mike Wright was at nose.

New England’s biggest defensive gaffe of the night came with just under five minutes left in the first half when a 3rd and 11 pass from Miami’s that was intended for Brian Hartline sailed out of bounds, but rookie cornerback Devin McCourty was caught up along the sidelines with Hartline and rightfully flagged on the play. Later in the drive, cornerback Kyle Arrington — making his second straight start in place of Darius Butler — tripped up Ricky Williams. Henne through his second pick of the night on the next play when Ninkovich took the ball away, the most impressive defensive play of the young season.

Following the second Ninkovich pick, New England converted again when Brady and the Patriots put together a 13-play drive that took 63 yards and ended with a 30-yard field goal from Gostkowski at the gun to make it 7-6 at the half.

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Analysis of Patriots Inactives

10.04.10 at 7:16 pm ET
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — When it comes to the Patriots inactives, there are no real surprises: running back Thomas Clayton, outside linebacker Shawn Crable, offensive lineman Nick Kaczur, defensive lineman Kyle Love, offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, wide receiver Taylor Price, running back Fred Taylor and cornerback Terrence Wheatley.

•No Clayton or Taylor (and with running back Kevin Faulk on injured reserve) the Patriots are a little thin at running back, with Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the traditional backs while Danny Woodhead will fill the role of third-down back that has been occupied by Faulk in the past. As he did against the Bills, Green-Ellis figures to get the majority of snaps this evening for New England.

•Given the numbers and way the injury report has looked this week, Kaczur, Love, Ohrnberger, Price and Wheatley were all a safe bet to land on the inactive list. With Crable sidelined, expect the Patriots to lean on Jermaine Cunningham for depth at outside linebacker. And inside linebacker Dane Fletcher and defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick (both rookies) are active for the first time in four games, and each have a chance to make their professional debut this evening.

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Crable, Taylor among inactives tonight for Pats

10.04.10 at 7:05 pm ET
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The following Patriots players are inactive for tonight’s game against the Dolphins: running back Thomas Clayton, outside linebacker Shawn Crable, offensive lineman Nick Kaczur, defensive lineman Kyle Love, offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger, wide receiver Taylor Price, running back Fred Taylor and cornerback Terrence  Wheatley.

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