Talk about a stacked deck:
The Dolphins had to face Tom Brady at less than full strength.
Despite practicing all week, Brice McCain missed his second straight game with a knee injury. Jamar Taylor started in his place, while rookie Bobby McCain worked as the nickel.
They were tested right away, as the Dolphins elected to defer after winning the coin toss. It didn’t end well. The Patriots scored on their opening drive.
Taylor did catch a major break on a deep pass from Brady to Brandon LaFell on the second quarter. LaFell got behind Taylor, but the pass was late. As Taylor recovered, he made contact with the receiver before the ball arrived.
No flag was thrown, and on the next play, Cameron Wake sacked Brady to end the drive.
Starting right tackle Ja’Wuan James left the game in the first quarter with a toe injury and was taken to the locker room on a golf cart.
Jason Fox, who started two games earlier in the season at left tackle, took his place.
But it was the lineman to Fox’s left who appeared to cost the Dolphins points. On the errant shotgun snap that resulted in a Patriots safety, right guard Billy Turner tapped Mike Pouncey, apparently the signal that Ryan Tannehill was ready for the ball. Tannehill was not. The snap went past Tannehill and out of the back of the end zone.
Later in the half, Chandler Jones victimized the other side of the line. Branden Albert and Jordan Cameron double-teamed Jones, but he split them to sack Tannehill.
Odds and ends
▪ About the only thing that went right for the Dolphins in the first half: a career-high 70-yard punt by Matt Darr that flipped the field. Later in the half, he uncorked a 60-yarder that pinned the Patriots deep.
▪ Andrew Franks, meanwhile, was asked to do the near-impossible: make a 63-yard field goal on the last play of the first half. The attempt, which would have broken the franchise record for length, was short and sailed wide left.
▪ Michael Thomas started over Walt Aikens at safety for the third straight game.
▪ Complete list of Dolphins inactives: CB Brice McCain, LB Chris McCain, TE Jake Stoneburner, C Sam Brenner, OL Jeff Linkenbach, WR Matt Hazel and DT A.J. Francis.
▪ Miami's captains Thursday: Tannehill, Pouncey, Thomas, Damien Williams and Reshad Jones. Williams left the game in the second quarter with a hand injury.
▪ Safety Jordan Kovacs left the game in the first half with a knee injury.
▪ Tannehill and Lamar Miller won the FedEx Air and Ground Player of the Week award, respectively, for their performances against the Titans.
▪ Republican Presidential candidate (and Miami native) Marco Rubio took at a dig at the Patriots on Twitter before kickoff: “Rooting for my @MiamiDolphins to make it 3 in a row tonight vs. Pats! Let's make sure to check game ball pressure before the game. #NEvsMIA”