Last year's unanimous league MVP clearly didn't miss a beat
in this year's season opener. Tom Brady opened 2011 with a bang,
throwing for a career-high 517 yards with four touchdowns as the
Patriots beat Miami, 38-24, on Monday Night Football.
This was vintage Brady, completing passes to eight
different receivers, executing the two-minute drill to perfection and
running Miami's defense into the ground with a flawless, no-huddle
offense. His biggest weapons Monday were his two tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, who combined for 13 catches, 189 yards
and two touchdowns.
"We executed pretty well at times," Brady said.
"Look, it's a team sport. Those guys were making some great plays
catching the ball. Aaron (Hernandez), Gronk (Rob Gronkowski), Chad
(Ochocinco), Deion (Branch), Wes (Welker). There was a lot of tough
looks out there that we got and guys really stayed aware of the
situations. We made enough plays to win. That's the goal."
While the defense looked shaky at times,
particularly in the first half, Brady and the offense never wavered.
The Patriots moved the ball at will in each of their first two drives
thanks in large part to the running-back duo of BenJarvus Green-Ellis
and Danny Woodhead, and Brady took over single-handedly in the final
two quarters by exposing the Dolphins' inability to cover his tight
"I guess that's why they drafted us," Hernandez
said. "Rob (Gronkowski) takes a lot off of me. He's so dynamic that a
lot of people have to worry about him, and forget about me. Sometimes
they forget about him and have to worry about me, so it's a great
The switch between running a no-huddle offense and
operating with a conventional snap count never seemed to disrupt Brady,
who remained cool while Miami wilted under the pressure.
"There's a fine line between putting pressure on
the defense and playing out of control, and I thought at times we did
both," Brady said. "You never really want to play out of control on
offense, but it was a good pace at times. (It) gave them some problems,
but at other times, they adjusted to it. We've got to find ways to
Brady's 517 yards set a new franchise record for a
single game and also broke the Monday Night Football record. The final
blow came on a 99-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker in the fourth
quarter, though head coach Bill Belichick made sure to acknowledge the
entire team for its efforts, even rookie tackle Nate Solder, who filled
in for the injured Sebastian Vollmer and held his own against
pass-rusher Cameron Wake.
"We got a lot of protection out of our receivers.
Tom did a great job of throwing the ball, so it was a good
complementary game," Belichick said. "We ran the ball effectively --
enough to keep them honest. It was no one-man band out there. We had a
lot of contributions from everybody and that's what a good offensive
team should do. We should be good across the board."
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