|First-quarter notes: Patriots 7, Dolphins 3||12.02.12 at 1:46 pm ET|
The first quarter is in the books in South Florida and the Patriots hold a 7-3 lead. Here are a few highlights:
•The Patriots won the toss and decided to defer — the Dolphins received the kickoff.
•Things started very well for New England. The Miami offense went 3-and-out to start the game, and a botched snap on the punt attempt — Miami punter Brandon Fields dropped the ball and was unable to get the punt off as a result — gave the Patriots the ball on the Miami 12-yard line. A few plays later, Stevan Ridley bounced off the pile and walked in from the 2-yard line to give New England a 7-0 lead. It marked another touchdown off a turnover for Patriots, who had no problem taking advantage of the short field and punching it in for the score.
•After another 3-and-out by the Miami offense, the Patriots navigated to the Dolphins’ 31-yard line, but stalled out after a few incompletes. (For what it’s worth, Tom Brady and Aaron Hernandez struggled to find a connection early, as there were some missed passes and drops in the early going.) Stephen Gostkowski did nothing to build any confidence in his abilities as he missed a 49-yarder to end the series. (It was his sixth miss of the season.)
•Defensively, the Patriots got lucky late in the quarter when Ryan Tannehill took a shot deep for Brian Hartline, but overthrew the ball. On the play, it looked like Aqib Talib was expecting safety help that never came — a better ball would have led to a touchdown for the Dolphins.
•Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork has been big early, dominating in the interior and doing a very good job getting consistent pressure on Tannehill. One interesting early matchup was New England corner Kyle Arrington on Miami receiver Davone Bess. Bess, who has torched the Patriots in the past, was a nonfactor early on despite some targets from Tannehill.
•Miami came up with a big play late in the quarter when Reshad Jones made a great play on a pass attempt from Brady to Hernandez. (Jones ran it back, but the play was called back because of offsetting penalties.) That gave the Dolphins the ball at the New England 34-yard line, but all Miami could get out of it was a 44-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter at the end of the quarter.
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