With huge efforts by Ronnie Brown, Chad Pennington, and the Dolphins’ defense, Miami’s offense outwitted the New England Patriots — in Foxborough, MA — in a blowout in NFL’s Week 3.
Brown scored four rushing touchdowns — a team record — and took a direct snap and threw 19 yards for another score in a personal breakout game for the Dolphins, who recovered after an offensive blowout by Kurt Warner’s Arizona Cardinals last week with a stifling defensive performance against the Tom Brady-less, defending AFC champions. The Dolphins’ running game had been non-existent in the first two weeks, putting the onus to drive and score on new QB Pennington, who completed 17 of 20 passes for 226 yards before giving way to rookie Chad Henne in the fourth quarter to finish off the lopsided win. At Week 3, the Dolphins at have equaled their win output for the entire 2007 season and seem hungry for many more.
Brown ran for 117 yards, most of which came on another direct snap play, which resulted in 62-yard run for a touchdown on the first drive of the fourth quarter. Brown’s other three TD runs all came in the first half, and all were trick plays in the red zone that capped long drives of 70+ yards orchestrated by Pennington, who connected with eight different receivers for his 17 completions. Often knocked by Jets’ fans for a lack of throwing power and toughness, Pennington also completed passes of over 10 yards to six of those eight receivers, including connections for 21, 24, and 33 yards, and was seen throwing blocks down-field during key runs by Brown and Ricky Williams.
Pennington and the Dolphins strung together scoring drive after scoring drive to open the game: something the New York Jets could not do against the Patriots in Week 2, in which Pennington’s QB replacement in NY, the legendary Brett Favre, mustered only a single, two-yard touchdown pass in a lackluster, losing effort against the Pats.
The Pats’ longest gain from scrimmage came on a first quarter pass by Matt Cassel into the hands of Miami defensive back Renaldo Hill, who missed an interception and tipped the ball in the general direction of receiver Wes Welker. Welker made an impressive change of direction to adjust to the deflection and come away with the catch. Welker also had the Pats’ longest rushing gain with a 19-yard run. The sole New England touchdown in the third quarter was sparked by an 81-yard kickoff return by Ellis Hobbs. Cassel connected with Jabar Gaffney on fourth down from the Miami 5 yard line for the score.
The Dolphins’ win snapped New England’s 21-game regular season winning streak, which had spanned across three seasons; ironically, the last team to beat the Patriots had been the Dolphins, who had shut them out 21-0 in Miami in Week 15 of 2006.
And speaking of the team that cast Pennington into the trash heap in favor of signing Favre: how did the Jets fare this week? They were trounced by the San Diego Chargers, 48-29, on Monday night. Favre got most of his yards, and two of his three TDs, in garbage time, and two TDs were under five yards. He also threw two interceptions in the Jets’ first five drives, which helped put the Jets in a 31-10 hole by halftime; Kellen Clemens came in and tossed another interception at the end of the game. The Jets’ defense and special teams each scored a touchdown. The Chargers punted only once in the entire game: at the end of the third quarter.