'Good start': Antonio Brown scores in debut as Patriots pound Dolphins
Miami Gardens, Fla. — When Antonio Brown celebrated his first touchdown with the New England Patriots by vaulting into a first-row luxury box, he didn’t linger.
The Patriots had a job to finish.
Determined to play to the final gun after allowing a miracle comeback at Miami last year, the Patriots beat the Dolphins, 43-0, Sunday.
Coach Bill Belichick had Tom Brady still throwing at the end.
“We’re playing 60 minutes,” Belichick said.
The Pats did that. They scored twice on interception returns in a two-minute fourth-quarter span, and registered their first shutout since Week 3 of 2016.
Brown, the former Central Michigan standout, helped get them going. The Patriots were 18½-point favorites but led only 7-0 late in the first half before Brady hit his newest target for a 20-yard score.
They connected four times in all.
“It was a good start,” Brady said. “I was just trying to find an open guy. He was snapping off some routes and did a great job.”
Brown, who signed Monday, made an 18-yard catch on his first play and finished with 56 yards receiving, all in the first half. He won raves from teammates for his debut.
“It was awesome,” receiver Julian Edelman said. “A lot of energy. He’s a playmaker.”
One thing Brown didn’t do was talk to reporters after the game. The NFL allowed the four-time All-Pro receiver to play despite a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday by his former trainer accusing him of sexually assaulting her on three occasions. Brown has denied the allegations.
New England’s defense outscored Miami with interception returns for touchdowns of 54 yards by Stephon Gilmore and 69 yards by Jamie Collins Sr. The Patriots totaled seven sacks and four interceptions and earned their most lopsided win in the 108-game history of the series.
“The defense was spectacular,” Brady said.
He threw for 264 yards and two scores for the Pats, who are 2-0 for the first time since 2016, winning by a combined score of 76-3.
The Dolphins are 0-2 for only the second time since 2012, with their losses by a combined score of 102-10.
“It’s never fun to be embarrassed,” Miami quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said, “especially two weeks in a row at home.”
Fitzpatrick threw for 89 yards and was intercepted three times. Josh Rosen replaced him and went seven for 18 for 97 yards and one interception.
Coach Brian Flores hedged when asked if Fitzpatrick remains the starter.
“We’ll evaluate things over the course of the week,” Flores said, “and as of right now, Ryan is still the starter.”