Tom Brady hasn’t had Rob Gronkowsi or Danny Amendola to throw the ball to for nearly a month.
The Dolphins were the latest team that couldn’t take advantage.
Brady picked apart the Dolphins’ undermanned defense Sunday, throwing for 276 yards and three touchdowns as the Patriots built a 20-point first half lead and dealt Miami only its second loss in the past 10 games.
"They have one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history," Dolphins cornerback Tony Lippett said. "We’ve played a lot of good ones so we just have to look at the film and learn from our mistakes."
The Patriots were also without Malcolm Mitchell Sunday as he continued to deal with a knee injury.
The Dolphins, however, could not contain Julian Edelman.
Brady connected with Edelman eight times for 151 yards and a 77-yard touchdown pass with 7:05 left in the third quarter that wrested control back to the Patriots after the Dolphins had closed to within 20-14 on their opening drive of the second half.
"Their offense is very efficient," Lippett said. "They ran the ball well and passed the ball well and that opened up a lot of things."
The real key for the Patriots on the play was recently-acquired Michael Floyd’s clobbering hit against Lippett that sprung Edelman loose for what would be the longest catch of his career.
“I felt some wind go by,” Edelman said of Floyd’s hit. “Mike is playing well for us. He has been here for two weeks and to make an impact like he has just shows that he’s a mentally tough guy.”
Lippett was examined for a possible concussion following the play, but was able to return to the game.
"[Floyd] just got me while I wasn’t looking," Lippett said. "It was a good hit. I’m feeling good though. He just got me good."
Floyd caught three passes for 36 yards and provided the Patriots with another solid receiving option. Floyd was picked up by the Patriots after he was waived Dec. 14 by the Cardinals following a DUI arrest.
Floyd caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brady with 3:44 left in the first quarter to give the Patriots a 14-0 lead.
On the play, Floyd fought his way through four defenders and somehow got the ball past the goal line.
“I’m in a good place,” Floyd said. “I’m not looking back at the past. It’s all about moving forward and I’m glad I’m here and with the people around me.”
Edelman’s receiving yardage was a career-high.
“When you set goals and you achieve them, it’s always great, but once you achieve them, you have to set new goals and now we’re on to a new season,” Edelman said.
With Gronkowski out for the season, and Amendola out for the fourth consecutive game with a high ankle sprain, Edelman has seen his targets increase noticeably in recent weeks.
Against a defense that was missing Byron Maxwell in the secondary and linebacker Jelani Jenkins, Edelman feasted whether it was catching passes in the slot or downfield.
“It’s the next man up for us and we just have to get ready for this weekend, play hard and play physical,” Lippett said. “We just have to play better together and learn from our mistakes today and continue to move on.”