Tom Brady threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns and the New England Patriots handed Miami its first loss of the season in a 38-7 rout on Sunday.
It denied the Dolphins their first 4-0 start since Hall of Fame coach Don Shula’s last season in 1995.
Brady improved to 15-1 as a starter against Miami.
But New England lost one of its best players in the process. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, one of Brady’s favorite targets, left the game in the third quarter with a right ankle injury and did not return.
It put a slight damper on an afternoon in which New England showed the kind of consistency on both sides of the ball that had been missing in back-to-back losses to Jacksonville and Detroit. Since 2002, the Patriots are 7-0 after back-to-back losses
In its two losses, New England’s offense struggled to find its rhythm and sustain drives on third down.
It did both Sunday, taking advantage of a Dolphins defense that couldn’t seem to match the Patriots speed.
Running back James White finished with a rushing and receiving touchdown. Rookie running back Sony Michel rushed 25 times for 112 yards and his first career touchdown.
Miami struggled in every phase and looked very much like the team that has lost 10 straight road games to New England.
Ryan Tannehill finished 11 for 20 for 100 yards and an interception. He was pulled in the fourth quarter in favor of Brock Osweiler. Osweiler connected with Frank Gore for a 6-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter for Miami’s lone score.
Miami was just 3 of 11 on third down and managed only 172 total yards. The Dolphins also had two turnovers.
Miami had a strong start on defense, intercepting Brady on New England’s second offensive series.
But following quick Dolphins’ punt, the Patriots bounced back with a 55-yard TD pass from Brady to Cordarrelle Patterson to take a 10-0 lead.
The 55-yard pass was New England’s longest play of the season. Patterson caught the pass over his shoulder along the sideline and stutter-stepped past safety T.J. McDonald to find a clear path to the end zone.
Then about midway through the second quarter, Tannehill fumbled a snap to begin a series that was recovered by Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy on the Dolphins 2 . White ran it in for a touchdown on the next play to make it 17-0.
The Patriots then ended the half with a 15-play, 85-yard drive capped by an acrobatic touchdown grab in the end zone by Phillip Dorsett.
Dorsett, who had no catches in last week’s loss to Detroit, finished with four catches for 55 yards.
Patriots receiver Josh Gordon made his debut Sunday, making his first playing time in New England since his trade from the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 17. He made his first reception at the 7:27 mark of the first quarter, hauling in a 13-yard grab.
Gordon was inactive in Week 3 in New England’s loss to Detroit with a hamstring injury and was limited in practice this week.
He finished with two catches for 32 yards.
Dolphins running back Frank Gore became the eighth running back in NFL history to appear in 200 NFL games.
Gore took the field in the first quarter of Miami’s matchup with the Patriots.
With 14,124 rushing yards, Gore entered the day ranked fourth on the NFL’s all-time rushing list behind only Emmitt Smith (18,335), Walter Payton (16,726) and Barry Sanders (15,269).
Spread It Around
Patterson became the 70th different player to catch a touchdown pass from Brady.
It tied Brady with Vinny Testaverde for the most players with a touchdown reception from a single quarterback in NFL history.
Dolphins center Daniel Kilgore left the game in the first half with an arm injury. Safety Bobby McCain left with a knee injury.
Patriots defensive lineman Adam Butler was helped off the field in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Elandon Roberts also limped off late.
The Dolphins visit Cincinnati next Sunday.
The Patriots host the Colts on Thursday night.