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First-quarter notes: Patriots 7, Dolphins 0

12.30.12 at 5:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The first quarter is in the books here at Gillette Stadium, and the Patriots hold a 7-0 lead. Here are a few quick notes:

•Miami won the toss and deferred.

•The Patriots’ offense opened with both Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski on the field together, and they made an immediate impact, as Gronkowski cleared out the right side, allowing for Hernandez to pick up a 14-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. That was followed by a 24-yard pass play to Danny Woodhead as New England quickly crossed midfield. However, New England stalled out at the Miami 24, and was unable to pick up a 4th and 6, turning the ball over on downs as Tom Brady attempted a pass to Wes Welker in triple coverage.

•The New England defense opened with its usual set, but had Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington start the game at cornerback and Steve Gregory and Pat Chung open the game at safety. Derrick Martin came on as part of the Patriots’ nickel coverage. There was no sign of Aqib Talib in the first quarter.

•After a pair of punts, the Patriots forced their first turnover of the day when they put together an impressive display of team defense. Rob Ninkovich came flying up the middle unblocked, forcing a quick throw by Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill deep in his own territory. Steve Gregory was there to pick up the interception, and he took it all the way back to the Miami 28-yard line. The offense made the most of a short field — it only took two plays for them to punch it in. First, Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on a 19-yard pass play (his first reception after coming back from injury), and that was followed by a 9-yard scoring strike to Welker to give the Patriots their first lead of the day, a 7-0 advantage midway through the first quarter.

•Brandon Deaderick and Justin Francis picked up sacks in the first quarter.

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