A hot and humid evening in Miami got even hotter when the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins got into in an old-fashioned shootout on Monday Night Football, with both teams breaking several records, including the most net passing yards by two teams in a single game with a whopping 906 yards.
Despite a career-high 416 yards from Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne, the night belonged to the other former Michigan Wolverine QB on the field, the Patriots quarterback and 2010 NFL MVP Tom Brady, who finished the night with completing 32 of 48 passes for 517 passing yards and four touchdowns, including a 99-yard shot to former Dolphins wide receiver Wes Welker.
I enjoy scoring points, said Brady. Whatever the hell we need to do to score more points, that's what I enjoy doing.
Brady's new Patriots-record 517 yards in the air breaks his previous career-high of 410 passing yards, and is the fifth most passing yards in a game in NFL history. The last time a quarterback eclipsed the 500-yard mark was in 1996, when Arizona Cardinals quarterback Boomer Esiason threw for 522 yards in an overtime victory against the Washington Redskins.
Tom did a great job of throwing the ball. [But] it wasn't a one-man band out there, said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. We had a lot of contributions.
Despite a rare turnover from Brady, the reigning AFC East champion Patriots picked up right where they left off from last season, when Brady led the league in scoring. The offense looked as prolific as ever, totaling 622 yards, the most in Patriots franchise history and the most ever allowed by the Dolphins.
Brady enjoyed a balanced passing night. While new addition and star wideout Chad Ochocinco only caught one pass for 14 yards, Wes Welker accrued 160 yards on eight receptions, and Brady's tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski caught a combined 13 catches for 189 total yards.
Not the defensive performance we were hoping for, said Dolphins coach Tony Sparano. That's an understatement.
Early in the third quarter, it looked like the Dolphins might be able to contain Brady. Following a sack by linebacker Cameron Wake, cornerback Benny Sapp reached up and deflected a Brady pass into the air, which was then picked off by 304-pound defensive end Jared Odrick and run 40 yards into Patriots territory. Odrick's pick marked Brady's first interception since October 17 of last year, snapping Brady's NFL-record of 358 consecutive passes without an interception. Brady hung his head on the bench as two plays later, Henne hit his former rival and Ohio State Buckeye Brian Hartline for a 10-yard touchdown. Suddenly, the game was tied at 14.
Brady quickly responded however with two consecutive drives down the field for touchdowns. After a field goal from Patriots kicker Stephen Gostowski, Brady capped off his night by hitting Welker in-stride from his own end zone, who sprinted down the field 99 yards untouched into the Dolphins' end zone, completing the longest play in Patriots history.
I only threw it 25 yards, Wes did all the work, Brady said. When I saw him break away, that was awesome. Coach never lets us run that route in practice.
When I saw the coverage as we lined up, I knew there was a strong possibility I could be getting the ball, Welker said. I just wanted to make the most of the opportunity.
New Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush, a transplant from the New Orleans Saints, only gained 38 yards on 11 carries, while Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall had a pretty good night, totaling 139 yards on seven receptions. Despite 488 total yards of offense from Miami, it still wasn't enough to rattle the Patriots.
The Patriots have had the Dolphins number in recent years. In their two meetings last year, New England beat Miami both times, outscoring the Fins 79-21.