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Dolphins fire special teams coach John Bonamego

10.05.10 at 1:18 pm ET
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The Dolphins fired special teams coordinator John Bonamego on Tuesday, just 12 hours after the team’s breakdowns helped the Patriots post a 41-14 victory. Patriots safety Patrick Chung blocked a punt to set up a touchdown, then Chung blocked a field goal attempt that Kyle Arrington returned 35 yards for another score. Brandon Tate also returned the second-half kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown. The Dolphins led the game 7-6 at halftime.

“It’s a hard decision to make,” Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. “I know how hard this guy works. Nobody works harder than him at what he does. Special teams is a hard area because there’s a lot of hands involved in that area.”

The team announced that assistant special teams coach Darren Rizzo will take over the unit. Bonamego had been the Dolphins’ special teams coach since 2008.

Read More: John Bonamego, tony sparano,

Tom Brady on D&C: ‘Showed what we’re made of’

10.05.10 at 10:11 am ET
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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning, just hours after the team’s impressive, 41-14 victory over the Dolphins in Miami.

“This was a big game,” said Brady, who stayed behind in Florida after the game. “We put a lot into this game. We put a lot of preparation into it. … There’s a lot of questions and doubts about our team. As a team, we really showed what we’re made of.”

Brady and coach Bill Belichick were visibly excited toward the end of the game, showing more emotion than fans are used to seeing. Brady said part of the display had to do with the team finally getting a victory on the road.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a big win on the road,” he said. “And that doesn’t matter if it’s last year or last night. You love winning on the road. And that’s something that we didn’t do this year. When you finally get that win, there’s a lot of emotion that’s built up for a long time.”

Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Could you script a better way for this football team to go into the bye week?

Well, it was a big win for us. We’re 2-1, on the road at Miami, which is always a tough place for us to play. We lost one game on the road already and we hadn’t really played 60 minutes of football, and there’s a lot of questions and doubts about our team. And I think the team really showed what were made of.

To get a win down here in the style that we did, where the special teams was tremendous, defense was tremendous, offensively we did what we needed to do. It was a great win for us. Everybody was really excited after the game. Hopefully, we can really build on it. I think going in to this week, now the bye week, we’re going to evaluate what we’ve done the last four weeks and figure out what’s working, and the things that aren’t working, we’re going to move on from that. We’ve got a big game against Baltimore here in two weeks and we’re going to need to play our best.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Danny Woodhead, Tom Brady,

Nuggetpalooza’s Boxscore Breakdown: Patriots Romp

10.05.10 at 8:55 am ET
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nuggetpalooza-small1A few stats from last night’s win in Miami that you might not find elsewhere:

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* – Miami allowed a kickoff return touchdown at home for just the 7th time in their history. 4 of those have come on Monday night. For New England, it was their 16th such TD on the road and their first ever on Monday night (home or away).

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* – The Patriots put up 35 second half points, a number surpassed only twice in the NFL since at least 2005. New England’s previous high since 2005 was 31, during their week 12 game in 2008 at Miami, a 48-28 win.

The Pats had averaged just 6 second half points in road games since the start of last season.

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* – New England scored 21 points in the 3rd quarter for just the 2nd time since 1976. The other came in a win at Cleveland in 2004. It was the 3rd time ever that Miami has allowed 21+ third quarter points, the other coming in 1993 and 1994 against Buffalo… all in Miami.

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* – The Patriots picked off 4 passes last night. It was just the 3rd time in the last 12 years that they’ve intercepted 4+ passes on the road. None of the 3 were Sunday games (2 on Monday; 1 on Saturday).

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* – All 7 Patriots kickoffs reached the end zone last night. Coming into the game, only 7 of 16 (43%) had gotten there.

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* – The Dolphins averaged 4.8 rushing yards carry last night. After allowing 5.6 yards/carry last week, it’s the first time that NE has allowed 4.8+ yards in back-to-back games since weeks 2 & 3 of the 2008 season. It was the highest average by Miami in their last 9 games.

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* – New England picked up 9 rushing first downs and 9 passing first downs. It’s the first time that they haven’t had 10+ of one or the other since week 3 of the 2008 season (32 games).

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* – A couple of nice Tom Brady passing stats: Brady completed 19 of 24 passes last night (79.2%), the highest percentage in a road game by a Patriots team since 11/18/07 at Buffalo (80.5%; 33-41). Also, Brady threw no interceptions last night, snapping a streak of 7 consecutive road games with at least one (a total of 11 over those games).

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* – New England has now won 7 of their last 8 Monday night games, with 6 of those coming on the road (since 2005).

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* – The Dolphins sacked Tom Brady 3 times last night, the most since exactly one year ago, when Baltimore got him 3 times. Unless you include the playoffs. Baltimore got him 3 times in January, too.

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
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