FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Under Bill Belichick the New England Patriots have, in many ways, mastered the art of getting headlining performances out of understudies.
He’ll have to pull off his magic again if the Patriots are going to keep their early season momentum.
New England improved to 21-1 at home against the AFC East since 2009 with its 31-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. But it also left with yet another quarterback issue to resolve after Jimmy Garoppolo had a Tom Brady-light performance halted by a right shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins find themselves at 0-2 under first-year coach Adam Gase, despite discovering some late-game traction on offense that had been missing in their season-opening loss at Seattle.
Garoppolo threw for three touchdowns in three drives before being driven hard into the ground by linebacker Kiko Alonso on a second-quarter pass play. The injury looked bad, with Garoppolo barely able to move his shoulder as he walked off the field.
“This game is a 100 percent injury rate,” receiver Julian Edelman said. “It’s football and everyone’s just gotta do their job a little bit better.”
The Patriots have yet to say much about Garoppolo’s injury, but it’s possible the final two starts before Brady returns from his “Deflategate” suspension could fall to rookie Jacoby Brissett. They’ll have to figure it out in a hurry before Thursday night’s matchup with the Texans.
Other observations from Dolphins-Patriots:
HISTORICAL REFERENCE: New England last had to make an injury-related adjustment at quarterback in 2008 when Brady suffered a knee injury in the Patriots’ opener. With backup Matt Cassel, the Patriots went 11-5, but failed to make the playoffs.
The downtime without Brady this time will be much shorter, but the mindset for the Patriots is pretty much the same as it was then. Edelman said the same work put in getting on the same page with Garoppolo must now transfer to Brissett.
“It’s always frustrating to lose any player on any position. Unfortunately that’s part of this game,” Edelman said.
BRISSETT’S CONFIDENCE: Brissett didn’t seem consumed by the moment with Garoppolo going down.
After the defense forced a fumble, he led New England on its final scoring drive, a five-play, 68-yard series that gave the Patriots a 31-10 cushion.
“The guys did a good job of staying calm,” he said. “When the opportunity comes, you gotta be ready for it.”