Patriots Stay Unbeaten By Defeating Winless Dolphins
Sunday, October 21st 2007, 9:46 pm
News On 6
MIAMI (AP) _ When a pass by Tom Brady was knocked away to force the New England Patriots' first punt of the game, the crowd erupted in a mock roar. It might have been the biggest cheer all afternoon.
The unbeaten Patriots enjoyed a four-touchdown lead by the time they punted, and they went on to beat the winless Miami Dolphins 49-28 Sunday.
Brady threw a team-record six touchdown passes, including two where Randy Moss made highlight-reel catches, and the Patriots improved to 7-0 for the first time in their 48-year history.
``We've got a long way to go,'' Brady said. ``Our goals are bigger than winning seven games this year.''
The Patriots have won every game by at least 17 points, matching a league record to start a season. Their domination has inspired speculation about their chances of achieving the NFL's first 19-0 season.
``It's going to be hard for them to go undefeated,'' Miami quarterback Cleo Lemon said. ``But if anybody can do it, they've got a shot.''
The Patriots play host to Washington on Sunday, then visit Indianapolis on Nov. 4 in a potential showdown between unbeaten teams.
The Dolphins, who achieved the NFL's only perfect season in 1972, now find themselves at the other extreme. They're 0-7 for the first time in their 42 seasons and next play the New York Giants in London.
``We can't win in America,'' defensive end Jason Taylor said. ``Maybe we can win overseas.''
To cap another dismal day for the Dolphins, middle linebacker Zach Thomas wrecked his vehicle on the way home from the game. Thomas' vehicle was damaged when rear-ended on the Florida Turnpike, but he and his wife were unhurt, the team said.
Still, the Dolphins were hurting, and not just because of their record. They lost running back Ronnie Brown and two safeties to injuries.
Brown, one of the team's few bright spots this season, was sidelined when he twisted his right knee in the third quarter, and he was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam Monday.
The Dolphins upset New England twice in the past three years in Miami, and the Patriots came out determined not to let it happen again. They led 28-7 after 20 minutes and 42-7 at halftime.
Brady completed his first 11 passes for 220 yards and four scores, including throws of 35 and 50 yards to Randy Moss. His other touchdown passes covered 14 and 16 yards to Wes Welker, 30 to Donte Stallworth and 2 to Kyle Brady.
``Those guys are making the plays,'' Tom Brady said. ``I'm just throwing it. They're making my job awful easy.''
Brady has 27 touchdown passes after seven games and is on pace for 61. The NFL record is 49 set by Peyton Manning in 2004.
The Patriots showed little letup until backup quarterback Matt Cassel entered the game with 11 minutes left. When Taylor intercepted Cassel's second pass and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown to make the score 42-21, New England coach Bill Belichick sent Brady back in.
``I did it because of the score,'' Belichick said. ``One more turnover, and then it's a 14-point game in the middle of the fourth quarter.''
Brady then drove New England 59 yards in four plays, the last a touchdown pass to Welker.
The Patriots were that relentless all afternoon, dominating even on special teams. Willie Andrews returned a kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown.
Notes: S Renaldo Hill hurt his right knee on Moss' second touchdown pass. S Courtney Bryan hurt his thigh, further depleting Miami at a position plagued by injuries. ... Patriots RB Laurence Maroney returned after missing three games with a groin injury. He carried six times for 31 yards. ... The Patriots' 49 points were the most ever allowed by the Dolphins at home.