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Sunday, December 2, 2012
First-quarter thoughts from Miami

By Field Yates

MIAMI -- After 15 minutes of play, the Patriots lead the Dolphins 7-3. Passing along some quick-hit notes and observations from the first quarter:

1. Pats cash in on early special-teams blunder. The Dolphins' opening drive went about as poorly as possible, as a three-and-out was followed by a botched punt attempt in which punter Brandon Fields was tackled at his own 12-yard line. After a holding penalty backed the Patriots up, Tom Brady connected with tight end Aaron Hernandez for a big third-down conversion, eventually setting up running back Stevan Ridley for a 2-yard rushing score.

2. Brady picked off for first time since October. It had been a long, long time since Brady was intercepted. It last occurred on Oct. 14, to be precise, but it happened again on Sunday, as safety Reshad Jones made a beautiful play on a throw down the sideline that was intended for Hernandez. The Dolphins took over in Patriots' territory. It was Brady's first pick in 201 attempts.

3. Lineup notes. With Jermaine Cunningham suspended and Chandler Jones out again, the Patriots turned to veteran Trevor Scott for the start at left defensive end, opposite Rob Ninkovich. Also of note, Brandon Deaderick -- not Kyle Love -- was the team's second starting defensive tackle alongside Vince Wilfork. On offense, right tackle Sebastian Vollmer returned to his starting role, as expected. Starting guard Dan Connolly left the game with a back injury and is questionable to return. Nick McDonald took over in his absence.

4. Edelman active early. Julian Edelman (concussion) has been busy early, playing both a special teams and offensive role. He assumed his normal spot on both the kickoff coverage and punt return teams, and also was used as the third wide receiver on offense. The amount of playing time for Edelman is a suggestion that he is fully recovered from the concussion he suffered on Thanksgiving.

5. Another miss for Gostkowski. For the third straight game, kicker Stephen Gostkwoski missed a field goal, this one from 49 yards. The previous two misses from Gostkowski have come from within 40 yards, and earlier in the week, special teams coach Scott O'Brien delivered a vote of confidence for his veteran kicker. He has made just one of his past four kicks.

6. Penalty box. The following Patriots were flagged for penalties in the first quarter: guard Donald Thomas (holding), tackle Sebastian Vollmer (holding), running back Stevan Ridley (low block).