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3 things we learned about the Dolphins

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The Miami Dolphins came to New England with two loud wins under an interim coach and feeling all kinds of good about themselves.

They left early Friday morning having been slapped in the face with a dose of unkind reality.

After beating up the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans, the Dolphins were smacked around by the undefeated New England Patriots on Thursday, losing 36-7 in the latest reminder that quarterback Tom Brady and his buddies are on a mission.

“We’re only seven games through, so we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Brady said.

They did plenty of work in this game.

Brady, continuing what looks like a season of revenge against anyone in his way after his Deflategate ordeal, threw for 356 yards and four touchdowns for his team’s second AFC East win in five days. He completed 26 of 38 passes and didn’t throw an interception.

New England’s Stephen Gostkowski kicked two field goals in as many tries, one a 52-yarder. He has made 26 straight in the regular season, breaking Adam Vinatieri’s team record of 25.

Tight end Rob Gronkowski finished with six catches for 113 yards, his 19th career game with at least 100 yards, tying him with Shannon Sharpe for sixth place all time among tight ends.

The loss brought the Dolphins crashing back to Earth after Miami scored 82 points and won its first two games under interim coach Dan Campbell.

Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill, coming off a career game and a two-game stretch that saw him complete an NFL-record 25 consecutive passes, finished 28 of 44 for 300 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked five times.

What we learned about the Dolphins:

1. The crack that made Twitter during the game was that Dan Campbell was going to have to give back his Interim Coach of the Year trophy. The reality was Campbell and the Dolphins ran into reality. After scoring 82 points against the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans, Miami faced a real team on Thursday and got clobbered.

2. Quarterback yan Tannehill is a tough guy. He had a great game last week and, thanks to hitting his last seven passes the week before, he was flying when he visited Gillette Stadium on Thursday night. But the Patriots punished him, delivering five sacks and other hits. He hung in there and was even on the field down 36-7 in the final minute.

3. The loss was even more costly than just another loss for the Dolphins. After losing offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James to a toe injury in the first half, Miami lost defensive end Cameron Wake to an Achilles injured that looked more serious than what happened to James. Wake had emerged from a slow first month to dominate the past two games, helping the Dolphins break through with their interim coach. He recorded his seventh sack of the season in Thursday night’s game.

Etc.:

–RB Jonas Gray, who made the cover of Sports Illustrated with a monster game against the Indianapolis Colts last season and then didn’t make the Patriots 2015 roster, did little in his return to New England on Thursday night. He had a 25-yard reception in the final minutes but before that gained just 1 yard on two carries, caught three other passes for 25 yards, but also dropped a pass in the open field. “I looked forward to playing the leading team in our division and any time you get to play a divisional opponent,” he said. “I just happen to be familiar with them, but just like everybody else I just wanted to win the game.”

–QB Ryan Tannehill, on top of the world last week when he hit his first 18 passes against the Houston Texans to set an NFL record of 25 straight over two games, faced much tougher competition on Thursday and it showed. He finished with 300 yards, but needed a last-second 25-yarder to get there. He wasn’t looking when center Mike Pouncey let a shotgun snap go, leading to Tannehill taking a safety, he was picked off twice and sacked five times in the bad loss.

–LB Chris McCain, who said earlier in the week he wanted to “crush” Tom Brady, didn’t get that chance. The little-used defender was among the inactives for the game. His teammates did bang Brady around a bit, but they couldn’t stop him.

–P Matt Durr did his part to keep his team in the game in the first half. He boomed a 70-yard punt and then had a 60-yarder on the next try. He came into the game sixth in the NFL in punting and averaged 58.2 yards per kick in this game.


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