Special teams lead Pats past Dolphins 41-14

Posted Oct. 05, 2010, at 12:09 a.m.
Last modified Oct. 05, 2010, at 7:07 p.m.

By STEVEN WINE

AP Sports Writer

MIAMI — The New England Patriots rang up another big score, this time with little input from the offense.

Patrick Chung blocked two kicks and returned an interception for a touchdown, and New England scored twice on special teams to beat the hapless Miami Dolphins 41-14 on Monday night.

Tom Brady threw for only 153 yards, and Randy Moss was held without a catch for the first time since 2006, but the NFL’s highest-scoring team still registered its biggest point total yet.

The Patriots trailed 7-6 at halftime, but when Brandon Tate returned the second half kickoff 103 yards for a score, the deluge was on. Chung blocked a punt to set up a touchdown, then blocked a field goal that Kyle Arrington returned 35 yards for a score.

Chung returned an interception 51 yards for New England’s final score.

Another unexpected contribution came from linebacker Rob Ninkovich, who had the first two interceptions of his five-year career. Chung and Arrington scored their first career TDs, as did Patriots reserve fullback Danny Woodhead on an 11-yard reception.

New England (3-1) moved into a tie with the New York Jets for first place in the AFC East, while the Dolphins (2-2) dropped to third place with their second divisional loss at home in eight days.

The Patriots scored 17 points in a span of 2:16 bridging halftime to take command. They are averaging an NFL-best 33 points per game.

Miami’s Chad Henne was 29 of 39 for 302 yards and two scores, but he was yanked with 6½ minutes left after tying a career high with his third interception. Tyler Thigpen finished up at quarterback but went only 2 of 6.

Ninkovich’s picks set up two field goals, and New England held Ronnie Brown to 27 yards rushing.

Tate took the second-half kickoff in the end zone, cut toward the right sideline and scored untouched, giving the Patriots their first lead. Miami went three and out, and Chung blocked Brandon Fields’ punt.

Two plays later, BenJarvus Green-Ellis scored on a 12-yard run.

When the Dolphins lined up for a 53-yard field goal attempt that would have cut the deficit to 10 points, Chung again broke through to block the kick, and Arrington recovered with nothing but the end zone in front of him.

As a result, the Patriots didn’t need Moss. He was targeted only once, when he stretched for a pass in the end zone, but the ball deflected off his hands and New England settled for a field goal.

Brady was sacked three times but finished 19 of 24 with no interceptions.

Ricky Williams turned a swing pass from Henne into a 28-yard touchdown, helped by a downfield block by Brandon Marshall. Henne also hit Davone Bess for a 19-yard score.

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