New England Patriots

If the New England Patriots are going to drop their third straight game, it’s going to take one hell of a comeback from the Miami Dolphins, as the Patriots have jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead.

The Patriots got on the board with a 13-play, 74-yard opening drive capped by a Stephen Gostkowski field goal, and extended their lead to 10-0 when Tom Brady and Cordarrelle Patterson hooked up for a 55-yard touchdown grab.

One of the biggest revelations that came with this opening half clinic from the Patriots was the emergence of their running game. After struggling to find space to create against the Lions last week, rookie running back Sony Michel has been more than involved, with 15 carries for a total of 80 yards. James White, meanwhile, turned a 22-yard rush into a touchdown, and finished the half with six carries for 36 yards (along with three catches for 17 yards).

In Patriot Fashion, Brady’s offense also came through with points before the end of the half, as he connected with a flipping Phillip Dorsett for a nine-yard touchdown to make it 24-0 by halftime.

Here are three quick thoughts from the opening two quarters…

Josh Gordon makes Patriots debut, catches pass on opening drive

Absolutely strapped in terms of legitimate pass-catching wideouts this season, quarterback Tom Brady and the New England offense hoped they had found an answer with the acquisition of the 27-year-old Josh Gordon.

And after missing Week 3 against the Detroit Lions with a hamstring issue, Gordon was both healthy enough and knowledgable enough to suit up for his Patriot debut today. That showed on New England’s first drive of the day, too, as Gordon came through with a crucial third-down grab on a slant.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon, certainly made his second target of the afternoon count, as well, as he successfully drew an illegal contact penalty on the defense.

He’s obviously not going to be targeted like a No. 1 receiver less than two weeks into his Patriots tenure, but it’s a start. Which is more than some people expected when Gordon arrived a week ago.

Disruptive Patriot defense is back to Week 1 form

When the Patriots bullied their way to a Week 1 victory over the Houston Texans, it really started with the Patriot defense forcing Deshaun Watson into bad decisions and getting in his face at all times. The Patriots got back to that in the opening half of today’s game, and simply made life miserable for the Dolphins. The Patriots’ rush defense was especially stout, as they limited Miami backs to just seven yards on four first-quarter carries.

There’s been no bending, and certainly no breaking.

Dolphins Gonna Dolphin

Say what you will about the Patriot defense, which deserves a ton of credit for this fantastic opening 30 minutes, but Ryan Tannehill and the Fins offense started this game with everything you’d want and more. In fact, their first play of a day should have been enough to get the Gillette crowd antsy (not that it takes much when the Patriots enter play with a rare losing record), as Tannehill connected with Kenny Stills through a tight window for a 22-yard pickup.

But the Dolphins took that strong start and decided to flush it down the toilet.

Tannehill fed Danny Amendola for a three-yard gain. A holding penalty on the next play made it a second-and-17, a five-yard pickup made it third-and-12, and then the Dolphins went with a short screen pass that picked up just five.

It was an oddly conservative start to a drive that began with aggression that could have put the Patriots in yet another hole, and the kind of stuff you simply can’t get away with when you come to Gillette against a desperate Pats team.

Of course, the Dolphins never quite got their offensive rhythm back on track after that. And a little behind-the-curtain stuff? As I sat here writing this, Tannehill fumbled a snap, Kyle Van Noy recovered it by straight-up ripping it out of Tannehill’s reach, and the Patriots scored a touchdown on their first offensive play after the recovery.

Put any sort of expectations on the Dolphins and this happens. Every single time.

The Patriots will receive the ball to begin the second half.