On a night where the Miami Dolphins were supposed to make a statement, get things back on track, and show the rest of the NFL watching world that they had arrived as a force to be reckoned with, they were instead beaten senselessly in a 41-14 shellacking at the hands of the New England Patriots. If it was the Dolphins intention to once again be that team that builds us up only to rip our still-beating hearts out of our chests, well mission accomplished, you soul-killing bane of our miserable football watching lives. Mission accomplished, indeed.
Of course, it's not the Dolphins style to just lose. No, they need to do it spectacularly and in a way that makes a mark. A loss that makes people say, "Now those guys got their asses kicked!" Monday night was such a night. Because as it turns out, Tom Brady was held to just 153 yards and Randy Moss was held without a catch all game long (the first time since 2006). And yet, the Dolphins still found a way to lose by 27 points. Hooray incompetence!
What Went Right: The first half. And not much else. The offense looked as if it was going to have its way with the Patriots defense. Davone Bess had a career night with nine catches for 93 yards and a TD. Chad Henne started the game by completing his first seven passes for 93 yards and a first quarter touchdown to Bess, putting Henne on pace for a 400-yard night. Little did Dolphins fans know, as they cheered and high-fived each other, that all the happiness, joy and elation felt after the Bess TD were about to get sucked into a bottomless maw of insipid blackness.
What Went Wrong: In our Keys to Victory post, we noted that it was imperative for the special teams to not shit all over themselves last night. They went ahead and shit on themselves anyway. It was their shitting on themselves, in fact, that made all the difference in this game. The Dolphins went into the half with a 7-6 lead. Then the second half started. And the deluge of unprecedented shit hit Miami in the face like a shit-bazooka. New England's Brandon Tate returned the second half opening kickoff 103-yards for the score. Later, the Patriots blocked a Brandon Fields punt -- the second blocked punt the Dolphins have suffered in two weeks, setting up an eventual Patriots touchdown. The Patriots then blocked a Dan Carpenter field goal attempt, which was promptly scooped up by New England and taken to the house for a 35-yard touchdown. Shit.
What We Learned: No matter how mediocre a season they might be having, former Dolphins love to stick it to Miami. From Wes Welker to Heath Evans to Sammy Morris to Daunte Culpepper, former players will always come back and have a game for the ages. Take it to the bank. The latest installment is Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who had a career night against Miami last night and who you are guaranteed to never hear from again.
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Nincovich is a former Dolphin who was once cut in favor of linebacker Eric Walden (Walden, as it turns out, is no longer with the team). Ninkovich intercepted Chad Henne twice, with both picks coming when the Dolphins were driving into New England territory. This is a guy who's been in the NFL for five years. It took Ninkovich five years to get one interception. Monday night, against his former team, he had two. Ninkovich later told reporters that Henne pretty much broadcasted the passes that were eventually picked off. Once again, Henne refuses to stop locking in on targets like a disjointed robot gone haywire.
We also learned -- rather, were reminded -- the Patriots are so steeped in douche, even their official twitter, which is supposed to be innocuous and unbiased in its commentary, got in on the douchefest.
The result was one of the most embarrassing losses in memory. Not just because of the cost of the loss (a 1-2 divisional record) but because of the expectations heading into the game. The Patriots shoddy defense was ripe for the picking and the Dolphins were playing at home, with a supposedly young physical up-and-coming team. Expectations were at an all-time high. Fuck expectations in the pants.
Next Up: A bye week, which means we have two whole weeks to dwell on this crap. Then it's off to Green Bay. In other words, LET'S GO HEAT!