<
>

Quick-hit thoughts after 1st quarter

9/12/2011

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Quick-hit thoughts after the first quarter of the season-opener between the Patriots and Dolphins (tie score, 7-7):

1. Gutsy call on the opening drive by the Dolphins, going for it on fourth-and-1. They converted with a 2-yard run up the middle. I like that attitude against the Patriots, the idea that 3s aren't going to win the game, 7s are.

2. Snaps played by Albert Haynesworth (including penalties) -- 9. Mike Wright started in his place at defensive tackle. Haynesworth's first play was on the fourth-and-1 call.

3. On the Patriots' opening scoring drive, they utilized three tight ends on four of seven snaps (including penalties). Matthew Slater's 46-yard bomb catch came out of the three-TE set.

4. Surprised to see rookie Ras-I Dowling start at right cornerback in place of veteran Leigh Bodden. The Dolphins went right at Dowling on the first play, with Brandon Marshall making the catch. Bodden, who entered in sub packages, came on for the second series with the base defense. Bodden played in the slot in the sub.

5. Also surprised to see four-year veteran Josh Barrett get the start at safety over second-year player Sergio Brown. Barrett only played in the preseason finale, while Brown played in all four preseason games.

6. Chad Ochocinco didn't play on the first offensive series. His first snap came at the start of the second drive, and he was penalized for an illegal formation, negating a long gain by Rob Gronkowski. Ochocinco played just that one snap in the first quarter as the Patriots stayed with Deion Branch and Wes Welker as their top receivers. When they wanted to quicken the pace, it helped to have those receivers in the game -- along with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez at tight end -- because they are further along with the offense.

7. The Patriots are using a rotation at right guard, with Brian Waters starting and Dan Connolly coming on for the second series.