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Patriots rumble over Miami

  • Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores looks on during the second quarter against the New England Patriots on Sunday, Sept. 15 2019 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS)

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown smiles before the start of game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Sept. 15 2019 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald/TNS)

  • Unhappy Miami Dolphins fans wear paper bags, during the second half at an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. The Patriots defeated the Dolphins 43-0. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) looks to pass, during the first half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown (17) smiles on the sidelines, during the second half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

  • New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown (17) waves from the seats after scoring a touchdown, during the first half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

  • New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) smiles before an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)



The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.)
Sunday, September 15, 2019

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — All eyes were on Antonio Brown inside Hard Rock Stadium.

The All-Pro receiver made his Patriots debut on Sunday amid controversy. Brown is facing some serious allegations from his former trainer, Britney Taylor, who’s accused the receiver of sexual assault in a civil lawsuit.

According to the NFL Network, Taylor is going to meet with the NFL on Monday as the league investigates the allegations. This investigation, however, didn’t stop Brown from playing on Sunday afternoon. The Patriots coaching staff didn’t waste any time getting their newest receiver involved in the game plan.

Brown’s debut wasn’t flawless, but the receiver finished with four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown to help the Patriots in their 43-0 thumping of the Miami Dolphins. The 31-year-old played 20 offensive snaps on Sunday.

Tom Brady (20/28, 264 yards and two touchdowns) didn’t waste any time getting his newest receiver involved in the offense. Brown led all Patriots players with eight targets on Sunday.

Brown was on the field during the team’s second offensive play. Brady immediately threw to the receiver, who ran a slant from the slot over the middle, for a gain of 18 yards. On the Patriots first drive, where Sony Michel put them up 7-0 with a 1-yard touchdown run, Brady’s first three pass attempts went to Brown, who caught all three for 36 yards.

The receiver played four of the Patriots 10 offensive snaps in this first series. After completing the 18-yard pass, Brady hit Brown for a 10-yard gain near the left sideline.

After a 10-yard run by Michel, with Brown run blocking, Brady hit the wide out for a gain of eight yards to get to the 10-yard line.

Brown was on the field during a second-and-goal play from the 5-yard line, but the play was nullified due to a defensive holding penalty. Michel scored two plays later at 7:46 of the first quarter.

Brown played five of the Patriots next 12 offensive snaps on the team’s second and third drives. He wasn’t targeted in either drive. Brown took a handoff in the third series, on a second-and-2 play call, rushing for five yards to move the chains. That drive, however, ended with Stephen Gostkowski missing a 48-yard field goal.

In the first half, the Patriots were mainly using Brown in 11 personnel groupings, which is when an offense has three receivers on the field with a back and tight end. Any time the Pats were in 21 personnel, which uses two receivers and two backs or a fullback and back, Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon were the receivers on the field.

Brown didn’t play all the offensive snaps when the Pats had three receivers on the field. The veteran split time with Phillip Dorsett. When he was on the sideline, you could find Brown standing next to Patriots receivers/special teams coach Joe Judge. When the offense was on the bench, he was usually seated in between Edelman and Gordon, which was one person away from Brady.

Following that first drive, Brown’s usage declined, but his production didn’t. In the Patriots fourth series, the team ran six running plays in a row before Brown score his first touchdown in a Patriots uniform. At 1:19 of the second quarter, Brown lined up in the left slot and Brady hit him for a 20-yard touchdown as the receiver made a nice back-shoulder catch.

Brown jumped in the crowd following the touchdown. Then he did a fun handshake with Josh Gordon followed by a leaping chest bump with James White. On that play, the offense was in a 10 personnel set (four receivers, one running back). The snap marked Brown’s first in that offensive grouping as his previous 11 snaps came in the team’s three-receiver set.

Gostkowski missed the extra point and the Pats led, 13-0, heading into halftime.

The Brady-Brown connection wasn’t perfect. Through the Patriots first two drives in the third quarter, Brady went 0-for-4 when targeting Brown. The first incomplete pass was broken up by Dolphins cornerback Eric Rowe as it looked like Brown got a slow release off the line of scrimmage.

The second pass was thrown in the end zone, but out of bounds. Brady went to Brown back-to-back times in the end zone on that same drive. On one incomplete, it looked like there was miscommunication on the route Brown route. On the fourth, Brady’s pass was underthrown and broken up by Rowe. Gostkowski finished that drive with a 28-yard field goal at 8:45 of the third and the Pats led, 16-0.

Brady put the Patriots up 23-0 at 2:18 of the third quarter with a 1-yard quarterback sneak. Brown was on the field for two snaps on that drive, but didn’t see a target. Brown wouldn’t catch another pass in this game.

Of course, after back-to-back pick-6s by Stephon Gilmore and Jamie Collins, and a James White touchdown, the Patriots were just fine.

We’ll see if Brown is following the NFL’s investigation this week.