The Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots Game both had players make demonstrations during the Star-Spangled Banner last week. And that’s where the similarities between the two teams end.
The Patriots Game couldn’t have enjoyed a more convincing Week 1 win. They were 9.5-point underdogs heading into Arizona. With Rob Gronkowski and two tackles out of the lineup, the expectations were low for Jimmy Garoppolo in his first career start. But he passed the test with flying colors.
Garoppolo, 24, finished the night 24-of-33 for 264 yards and a touchdown pass. Perhaps the most impressive play of his night came on a third down when he found Danny Amendola for a 32-yard pass during the game-winning touchdown drive. The pocket was collapsing, but Garoppolo slid over to his left and uncorked the picturesque throw.
On the whole, it was difficult to nitpick Garoppolo’s performance. But unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick’s praise has been relatively understated this week when it comes to Garoppolo. He also snapped at a reporter who asked him his opinion on the “Garoppolo storyline.”
“Well I mean, I’m really really concerned about the storyline,” Belichick said, via CBS Boston. “There’s really nothing higher on my list than the storyline tomorrow.”
After a win in Arizona, it’s conceivable the Patriots Game could go undefeated while Tom Brady serves his four-game DeflateGate suspension. They play their next three contests at Gillette Stadium, where they win 83 percent of the time.
The Patriots Game are heavy favorites over the Dolphins Sunday, and rightfully so. For starters, the Dolphins haven’t won in Foxborough in eight years. But they also personified the phrase of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday.
On the whole, Miami’s defense had a good day. It sacked Russell Wilson on three occasions and hit him nine times as well. But in the fourth quarter, when the game was on the line, the Dolphins allowed Seattle to march down the field for a game-winning touchdown. Wilson connected with Doug Baldwin in the end zone with 35 seconds remaining to end it.
The Dolphins’ offense wasn’t even competitive, though. Perhaps the lowlight of the season happened early in the second quarter, when Kenny Stills dropped what would’ve been a surefire 71-yard touchdown reception.
It’s a big season for Ryan Tannehill, who took a step back in 2015 after he had signed $96 million extension. It will be an especially big stage for him Sunday, as he attempts to show why he’s the second-best quarterback in the division behind Brady.
But if Garoppolo plays like he did Sunday, then he may be able claim that title — as weird as it may be. Gronkowski may still be out of the lineup with a hamstring injury, but Julian Edelman should be in there. Garoppolo should be more than comfortable throwing to slot receivers in a spread offense — just like Brady.
How to Watch
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Jamie Erdahl
Online: Stream NFL Games Free