MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Rob Gronkowski delivered one of his signature spikes after a touchdown grab, then saw Tom Brady sprinting toward where he stood in the end zone.

Brady head-butted his tight end, then whacked him in the helmet a couple times.

That was celebration. From there, most everything led to New England frustration.

Simply dominated in the second half, the Patriots wilted on a steamy day in South Florida and lost a season opener for the first time in 11 years. Outgained 222-67 and outscored 23-0 after halftime, New England is in a most unusual spot – looking up at everyone else in the AFC East – after losing 33-20 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

“All of us have to go out there and play a lot better than we played today,” Brady said. “You can’t play the way we played today and think we’ll win a game this season. There’s nothing positive to take from the things we were doing.”

Not from the last 30 minutes, for certain.


The last time New England got outscored by such a wide margin after halftime was against Pittsburgh on Nov. 30, 2008 – 94 games ago.

“We need to do a better job than we did today,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said. “It’s as simple as that.”

Knowshon Moreno rushed for 134 yards and a big fourth-quarter touchdown for Miami, which got two passing touchdowns from Ryan Tannehill. Moreno now has 358 yards on the ground in his last two regular-season games against New England, the first being a 224-yard effort in Denver’s loss at the Patriots last season.

That one, he tried to forget. This one, he’ll savor.

“Did you see that man out there?” asked Dolphins center Samson Satele, one of five new starters on Miami’s offensive line. “He’s a crazy dude. You give him a little crease and away he goes.”

Miami Coach Joe Philbin said he had a simple message for this team at halftime.


“The plays are there,” Philbin told his team.

The Dolphins repeatedly proved him right.

“We knew what was killing us,” Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said. “Ourselves.”

Brady threw a touchdown pass to Gronkowski and Shane Vereen had a rushing touchdown for New England.

Rookie linebacker Chris McCain blocked punt on the game’s first series, setting up a Tannehill-to-Lamar Miller touchdown pass – the first time Miami’s opening offensive sequence of a season resulted in a TD throw since Dan Marino and Mark Duper connected in 1992.

But the Dolphins turned the ball over three straight times later in the half, and New England grabbed a 17-7 lead. It was 20-10 at halftime.


“We came back real well and shut them out in the second half,” McCain said. “That’s unheard of. With Tom Brady out there you expect about 35 points.”

When the Patriots are up 10, you can expect a win as well. They were 16-1 in their last 17 games with a double-digit halftime lead. But on Sunday, an 89-degree day that felt like 99 when factoring in the humidity, New England couldn’t hold the lead.

Brady finished 29 of 56 for 249 yards. Tannehill completed 18 of 32 passes for 178 yards.

Tannehill hit Wallace for a 14-yard score midway through the third quarter to tie the game, Caleb Sturgis added one of his four field goals to put the Dolphins on top, and then Miami sealed it late.

Helped by a roughing-the-passer penalty and a pair of third-down completions by Tannehill, the Dolphins went 85 yards in about 6 minutes. Moreno barged in from the 4 with 3:36 remaining to push the lead to 30-20, and the outcome was academic from there.

“Nobody else gave us a shot,” Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon said. “Just glad we got this win.”

NOTES: Brady passed Warren Moon for No. 6 on the all-time NFL passing list. … Miami lost starting LBs Danell Ellerbee (hip) and Koa Misi (ankle) in the first half, and those injuries came with another would-be starter, Phillip Wheeler, already out. … Dolphins DE Cameron Wake has had at least one sack in each of New England’s last five trips to Miami.

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