Patriots Dolphins Football

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New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown congratulations cornerback Stephon Gilmore after Gilmore's 54-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Patriots defense was outstanding in the 43-0 win, and Brown made four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown in his debut.

The New England Patriots posted one of the most dominant wins in franchise history on Sunday, pitching a shutout on the road to beat the hapless Miami Dolphins 43-0. Here are five quick thoughts from the game:

1. Pats defense outscores Dolphins offense

Tom Brady and the Patriots offense could have punted the ball after every drive, and New England still would have beaten Miami based entirely on the performance of its defense. New England kept Miami off the scoresheet, holding the Dolphins to 184 yards of total offense while recording seven sacks and four interceptions.

Two of those interceptions were taken back for touchdowns on back-to-back drives, with Stephon Gilmore recording his first career pick-six on a 54-yard interception return and then Jamie Collins taking an interception 69 yards to the house on the subsequent drive.

At that point, those two plays alone dwarfed Miami's total offense to that point, as the Dolphins had only managed 93 yards of offense of their own. Most of Miami's offensive production came in its final drive in garbage time, a 10-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a second Collins interception as time expired. Devin McCourty had his second interception of the season early in the third quarter.

2. Front seven feasts

When the Patriots' secondary wasn't toying with Miami quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen, the front seven was making their lives miserable. Adam Butler (2 sacks) and Chase Winovich (1.5 sacks) in particular had huge games, with Michael Bennett, John Simon and Danny Shelton each tallying one sack each and Collins teaming with Winovich for his half sack.

All told, the Patriots had 12 quarterback hits on the day, with Butler, Winovich, Bennett and Shelton each knocking their man down twice each.

3. Brown sharp early

The dominant storyline of the past week has been newly acquired wide receiver Antonio Brown. Will he play? How much will he play? Will he be effective if he does play? The early returns were promising on the first drive, as Brady hit Brown on each of his first three targets on the opening drive, and later connected for a 20-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.

Brown wasn't as involved as the game went on and had a couple of noteworthy miscommunications, but he still finished as New England's leading receiver with four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. Tom Brady finished 20 for 28 with 264 yards and two touchdowns overall.

4. Michel bounces back

After a rough opening week against Pittsburgh, running back Sony Michel was much more effective on Sunday against Miami. The second-year back led the team with 21 carries for 85 yards and had a 1-yard touchdown to open the scoring with 7:46 to play in the first quarter. 

5. Trouble at tackle

The Patriots don't have many glaring holes on their roster, but one of the big ones is depth at tackle. That was tested in a big way on Sunday as starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was inactive with a shoulder injury, and then left tackle Isaiah Wynn left the game in the second quarter with a foot injury.

In their place, the Patriots started Marshall Newhouse for Cannon at right tackle, and then shifted him over to left when Wynn went down, brining Korey Cunningham in to take over at right. Newhouse and Cunningham are both recent additions, with the Patriots trading a sixth-round pick to Arizona for Cunningham at the end of the preseason before later signing Newhouse as a free agent this past Wednesday.

Mac Cerullo can be reached at mcerullo@eagletribune.com. Follow Mac on Twitter at @MacCerullo.

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