Forget about all the excuses that can be made before the beginning of the 2011 NFL season.
It was time for the New England Patriots to start their 2011 season. So much has been made of the NFL lockout, and the domino effect it might have on the 2011 season. For some time, it looked as though every team in the National Football League would get a free pass if their opening game was lost.
However, the New England Patriots came out Monday night ready to play and ready to win.
The Dolphins also came out Monday night slinging, as Chad Henne led his team in a nearly 8 minute opening drive. Henne threw all over the Patriots Defense, capping the drive by running the ball in himself for a touchdown.
Below is a list of "the great, the good, the bad, and the ugly" from the Monday Night Football opener.
Tom Brady eviscerated the Dolphins defense all night long, throwing for a franchise record of 517 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brady was a walking laser, completing his first 8 passes of the game. He finished the night 32 of 48 from the previously mentioned Patriots record of 517 yards, eclipsing the record of 426 yards in a game held by Drew Bledsoe. Brady's record setting night included a 99 yard catch and run touchdown pass to Wes Welker. Welker finished with two touchdowns on the night and a massive 160 yards receiving. Brady's other TD passes on the night were to TE's Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Brady also threw the 3000th completed pass of his career, late in the first quarter. One more accomplishment for Brady on the night - he entered the NFL's Top Ten-All Time in touchdown passes.
Patriots Wide Receiver Deion Branch, who had an uneventful preseason, got off to a good start, catching 7 balls for 93 yards.
The Patriots offensive line protected Brady very well all night, giving him enough time to throw for 517 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were an integral part of the offense on Monday night, combining for 13 catches, 189 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Patriots offense was massive against the Dolphins, with a combined 622 yards, and 5 touchdowns.
The two teams shared a record on the night, passing for an NFL single game record of 906 yards.
The Patriots secondary and their defense as a whole on Monday night, did not fair as well against Miami's quarterback, allowing Chad Henne to throw almost at will all night. Henne finished the night with 416 yards passing.
Chad Ochocinco was a virtual non factor on Monday night. It ended up not mattering by the end of the game, but it was still a point of concern.
The much anticipated Pass Rush hopes were also not to be heard from. When a second tier quarterback torches you for 416 yards, it cannot be considered a victory on that side of the ball. Overall the defense played well enough to make the stops needed, but without Brady's out of this stratosphere performance, it might have very well tipped the other way.
A huge blow was dealt to the already thin Patriots offensive line, as starting center Dan Koppen left the game early on with an ankle injury.
The one thing that scared many Patriot fans, is the fact that even though Brady picked apart the Miami defense, there is no way he can be, nor should he be, depended on to throw for 500 plus yards and 4 touchdowns every game. It's not going to happen, and it shouldn't have to.
Miami's Chad Henne did his worst to the Patriots defense, scorching them for 416 yards and 2 touchdown passes, as well as a rushing TD.
The Patriots played well as a team and took home a 38-24 season opening AFC East victory. The defense made the stops when needed and there were some great plays by the defense throughout the game.
As Belichick will always say, "A win is a win," but he will be the first to admit they have a lot of work to do moving forward.
The Patriots will continue that quest when they face the San Diego Chargers next Sunday, in the 2011 home opener at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
Kick off will be at 4:15 p.m.