Stats don’t lie: Pro Bowl snub of Miami Dolphins’ Michael Thomas doesn’t add up

The Dolphins’ Michael Thomas. (Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

DAVIE — Michael Thomas led the NFL in special teams tackles last season, but when he learned that wasn’t enough to break the grip the Patriots’ Matthew Slater had on the lone AFC special teams Pro Bowl slot, he told himself he wouldn’t get his hopes up again.

So when the teams were announced Tuesday night, Thomas tried to take it in stride even though the numbers say taking Slater over Thomas makes less sense this year.

“I think there are some other guys that are probably a little bit more deserving of that recognition,” Thomas said Wednesday.

Thomas wouldn’t say if he’s one of those “other guys” and said it’s nothing against Slater, whom he respects as a player and as a person.

Slater was named to his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl — tying Buffalo’s Steve Tasker for the most selections by a special teams player — despite playing in seven games because of injuries.

Although Thomas missed last week’s game at Buffalo with a knee injury, he played in the other 13 games for the Dolphins and hopes to suit up in Kansas City on Sunday.

Slater has five special teams tackles, which doesn’t even lead his team. He’s third on the Patriots in that department.

Thomas has 11 special teams tackles to lead the Dolphins.

Dolphins coach Adam Gase was speaking in general about how some players get voted in year after year based on reputation when he said, “Sometimes it’s perception that guys have of what somebody did in the past. It’s always hard to get that first round when you’ve been there a few times. That name’s a little bit easier to write down.”

That must be the case here. The only alternative is to presume that for the time Slater has been out there, he has performed twice as well as Thomas. Why that logic? Because Thomas has played twice as many games and has twice as many tackles.

Pro Football Focus doesn’t buy the selection of Slater. In a list of the most-snubbed performers this season, it said Thomas ought to replace Slater (which could still happen if the Patriots go to the Super Bowl, making Slater ineligible for the Pro Bowl).

Matthew Slater has a lock on the AFC special teams spot for the Pro Bowl, and he has been a great special-teamer in the past, but he is getting there now on name recognition alone,” PFF wrote. “He isn’t even the best special-teams player on his own team.”

PFF said Slater has played just 12 total snaps as a gunner this year, at least 26 fewer than either player ahead of him.

“Miami’s Thomas is the true ‘special teams ace’ people think Slater is, and he may once have been,” PFF wrote.

Thomas’ reaction?

“For people like that, a program like that who watches every snap, who actually watches the film and they recognize you — that means more to me,” Thomas said.

So does respect from peers. Thomas said four players on other teams texted him when the rosters were announced “saying that was crazy that I wasn’t voted in.

“That’s what means a lot to me,” Thomas said.

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Dolphins DT Ndamukong Suh on Pro Bowl snub: “I can always go to Orlando”

Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was disappointed not to be picked for the Pro Bowl. (AP)

DAVIE—The annual Pro Bowl voting results release might seem trivial, but it’s frequently a touchy subject in the Dolphins‘ locker room.

Two years ago, Reshad Jones vowed that he wouldn’t go if selected as an alternate when he didn’t land a spot in the voting—he was later added as an alternate and happily attended. Last year, Jarvis Landry declined to talk about being left off the initial roster (he was later added as well).

And now, there’s a bit of bewilderment about Ndamukong Suh being snubbed, particularly from coach Adam Gase.

Suh doesn’t sound like it hurt him too badly.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I can always go to Orlando if I want to.”

True, but he’ll need a spot to open up if he actually wants to play in the game.

The 44-man roster is filled by a combination of fan, player and head coach votes, each of which counts for one-third of the tabulation. That formula led to Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins and Tennessee’s Jurrell Casey as the AFC starters at defensive tackle, with Jacksonville’s Malik Jackson.

“It’s unfortunate, but I mean things happen,” Suh said of his omission. “We’ll continue to play as hard as we can and make up for it in these next two games.”

Jones was the only Dolphins player to win a roster spot outright this year. He came back from rotator cuff surgery to reestablish himself as one of the top safeties in the NFL. He is second on the team with 99 tackles, has 4.5 sacks, four pass breakups, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

“I think it shows to his ability as a safety and him as a dominant player,” Suh said. “He came in and has been healthy for us and has done exactly what we expected and played at a high-caliber level. He deserves the Pro Bowl.”

Suh, Cameron Wake, Jarvis Landry, Mike Pouncey, Cody Parkey, Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas were all thought to have a reasonable chance as well.

Suh is an alternate, which means he could be added if any of those three defensive tackles withdraw. Players from the Super Bowl teams are automatically removed from the game, as well as anyone who gets hurt. Some players who simply don’t want to attend can find ways out of it as well.

Suh said earlier this month the Pro Bowl was important to him and he intended to play if selected. He made it as a starter last year, but did not attend. He didn’t say definitively whether he would go next month if picked as an alternate.

“The initial votes weren’t in my hands,” he said. “The next wave of things aren’t in my hands. If things allow me to go, great; if not, then that’s what it is.”

[Opposing quarterbacks are having the time of their lives facing the Dolphins this year]

[Snap count breakdown from Dolphins vs. Bills]

[Reshad Jones is the Dolphins’ only Pro Bowl selection]

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Breaking: Reshad Jones is Miami Dolphins’ lone Pro Bowl selection (Huh? No Ndamukong Suh?)

Dolphins safety Reshad Jones (right) made his second Pro Bowl, but Ndamukong Suh was shunned. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Dolphins safety Reshad Jones was named to the Pro Bowl for the second time in three seasons Tuesday night, but the bigger news was those who weren’t selected — a clear indictment on the team’s 6-8 record.

Among those shunned: defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who was selected last season and has made the Pro Bowl five times in his eight seasons.

Defensive end Cameron Wake and receiver Jarvis Landry — both of whom also made the Pro Bowl last season — were not chosen. And Dolphins special teams captain Michael Thomas, a second alternate in 2016, did not make the cut.

The last time the Dolphins sent only one player to the Pro Bowl was in 2007, when Jason Taylor was the lone selection.

It’s also the year the Dolphins were 1-15.

Jarvis Landry. (Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier, who recently suffered a serious spinal injury, made the AFC team.

Injury replacements will be named in the coming weeks, and players on the two Super Bowl teams also will need to be replaced, so alternates on the Dolphins could be elevated onto the AFC roster.

Jones has started all 14 games and has 99 tackles (76 solo), a half-sack, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries and four passes defensed.

Jones is the only NFL player to return two fumbles for touchdowns this season and his five career defensive touchdowns are second in team history. His 99 tackles lead all AFC safeties this season.

Jones’ selection extends the Dolphins’ streak to 20 seasons with a defensive player elected to the Pro Bowl.

The other strong safety chosen was Micah Hyde of the Bills.

Suh has 45 tackles, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Suh was bypassed in favor of  starters Geno Atkins of the Bengals and Jurrell Casey of the Titans, plus the Jaguars’ Malik Jackson.

All three of the defensive tackles chosen have more sacks than Suh — but none has more tackles. Atkins has 28 tackles and nine sacks. Casey has 35 tackles and five sacks. Jackson has 26 tackles and eight sacks.

Wake has nine sacks and 31 tackles. The defensive ends selected were the Chargers’ Joey Bosa (son of former Dolphin John Bosa), the Jaguars’ Calais Campbell and the Raiders’ Khalil Mack. They each have more sacks than Wake: Campbell, 14.5; Bosa, 11.5; Mack, 10.5.

Landry has 98 receptions and 844 yards, both team highs. He’s averaging 8.6 yards per reception and has a career- and team-high eight receiving touchdowns.

Landry was bypassed in favor of  Antonio Brown of the Steelers, DeAndre Hopkins of the Texans, A.J. Green of the Bengals and Keenan Allen of the Chargers. Brown has 1,533 yards and nine TDs, Hopkins 1,313 and 12 and Allen 1,197 and five.

Thomas leads the Dolphins with 11 special teams tackles, but the Patriots’ Matthew Slater again was chosen despite playing in only seven games.

Among the notable players making the Pro Bowl is ex-Dolphins guard Richie Incognito of the Bills.

The Pro Bowl will be in Orlando on Jan. 28, back in the traditional AFC vs. NFC format.

Pro Bowl rosters

* Indicates starter



Wide receiver: Antonio Brown*, Steelers; DeAndre Hopkins*, Texans; A.J. Green, Bengals; Keenan Allen, Chargers

Tackle: Alejandro Villanueva*, Steelers; Taylor Lewan*, Titans; Donald Penn, Raiders;

Guard: Kelechi Osemele*, Raiders; David DeCastro*, Steelers; Richie Incognito, Bills

Center: Maurkice Pouncey*, Steelers; Rodney Hudson, Raiders

Tight end: Travis Kelce*, Chiefs; Rob Gronkowski, Patriots

Quarterback: Tom Brady*, Patriots; Philip Rivers, Chargers; Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

Running back: Le’Veon Bell*, Steelers; Kareem Hunt, Chiefs; LeSean McCoy, Bills

Fullback: James Develin*, Patriots


Defense end: Joey Bosa*, Chargers; Calais Campbell*, Jaguars; Khalil Mack, Raiders

Interior linemen: Geno Atkins*, Bengals; Jurrell Casey*, Titans; Malik Jackson, Jaguars

Outside linebacker: Von Miller*, Broncos; Jadeveon Clowney*, Texans; Terrell Suggs, Ravens

Inside/middle linebacker: C.J. Mosley*, Ravens; Ryan Shazier, Steelers

Cornerback: A.J. Bouye*, Jaguars; Jalen Ramsey*, Jaguars; Aqib Talib, Broncos; Casey Hayward, Chargers

Free safety: Eric Weddle*, Ravens

Strong safety: Reshad Jones*, Dolphins; Micah Hyde, Bills

Special Teams

Punter: Brett Kern*, Titans

Kicker: Chris Boswell*, Steelers

Return specialist: Tyreek Hill*, Chiefs

Special teamer: Matthew Slater*, Patriots



Wide receiver: Julio Jones*, Falcons; Adam Thielen*, Vikings; Michael Thomas, Saints; Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals

Tackle: Tyron Smith*, Cowboys; Trent Williams*, Redskins; Lane Johnson, Eagles

Guard: Zack Martin*, Cowboys; Brandon Brooks*, Eagles; Brandon Scherff, Redskins

Center: Alex Mack*, Falcons; Travis Frederick, Cowboys

Tight end: Zach Ertz*, Eagles; Jimmy Graham, Seahawks

Quarterback: Carson Wentz*, Eagles; Russell Wilson, Seahawks; Drew Brees, Saints

Running back: Todd Gurley*, Rams; Alvin Kamara, Saints; Mark Ingram, Saints

Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk*, 49ers


Defensive end: Everson Griffen*, Vikings; Demarcus Lawrence*, Cowboys; Cameron Jordan, Saints

Interior linemen: Fletcher Cox*, Eagles; Aaron Donald*, Rams; Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers

Outside linebacker: Chandler Jones*, Cardinals; Ryan Kerrigan*, Redskins; Anthony Barr, Vikings

Inside/middle linebacker: Luke Kuechly*, Panthers; Bobby Wagner, Seahawks

Cornerback: Xavier Rhodes*, Vikings; Patrick Peterson*, Cardinals; Marshon Lattimore, Saints; Darius Slay, Lions

Free safety: Earl Thomas*, Seahawks

Strong safety: Landon Collins*, Giants; Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles

Special teams

Punter: Johnny Hekker*, Rams

Kicker: Greg Zuerlein*, Rams

Return specialist: Pharoh Cooper*, Rams

Special teamer: Budda Baker*, Cardinals

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Dolphins S Michael Thomas, RB Damien Williams out vs. Buffalo Bills

Dolphins safety Michael Thomas won’t play Sunday at Buffalo. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

BUFFALO, N.Y.–The Miami Dolphins left South Florida today without two key players: Michael Thomas and Damien Williams. Both of them will miss Sunday’s game at the Bills.

Thomas is the more painful loss of the two because it’s slightly more surprising. Although the team did list him as doubtful Friday and has hasn’t been practicing because of a knee injury, he’s an extremely valuable piece on special teams and has been doing everything possible to be able to play.

In addition to being a backup safety, he leads the team in special teams tackles with 11 and leads all NFL players over the past four seasons with 54.

Thomas was restricted to special teams work in Monday’s win over New England. If the injury keeps him from being able to contribute there, the question now becomes whether Miami will shut him down to free up a roster spot for the final two games.

Williams has been out with a serious shoulder injury since the Nov. 26 game at New England and returned to partial practice work this week. This will be the third straight game he’s missed.

The Dolphins said Williams is also dealing with an illness.

In 11 games this year, he has 181 yards rushing, 155 receiving and one touchdown.

His absence means Kenyan Drake will continue to get the bulk of the work at running back, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Miami. With Williams missing the last two games, Drake has 334 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.

[When Adam Gase gets upset with Jakeem Grant, he threatens to call his mom]

[Ndamukong Suh played every single snap in the win over New England]

[Dolphins’ Michael Thomas remains a special teams hero]

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Miami Dolphins’ Michael Thomas doubtful for Bills – and uncertain for final two games

The Dolphins’ Michael Thomas is doubtful for Sunday’s game in Buffalo. (Jim Rassol/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

DAVIE — There can be no mistaking Michael Thomas’ value to the Dolphins. He’s their special teams captain, he helped seal Monday’s victory over the Patriots and, according to special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi, he leads the NFL in special teams tackles the past four years.

But how much he’ll be able to offer the Dolphins in their stretch run remains up in the air.

For the first time last Monday night, Thomas played with a brace on his right knee, which he injured Nov. 5 against Oakland. He has quietly played despite the injury in five games since. His appearance against the Patriots came despite not practicing the week prior, but he nonetheless recovered New England’s last-gasp onside kick to clinch the 27-20 victory.

So when Thomas didn’t practice this week, no alarm bells went off.

But on Friday’s injury report, Thomas was listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against Buffalo, indicating a trend in the wrong direction (he was questionable for the Patriots game).

Thomas’ injured posterior cruciate ligament does not require surgery. With the brace, he was able to run at or close to full speed, although decelerating with PCL injuries can be painful.

After the Buffalo game, the Dolphins have only a trip to Kansas City and a home game against the Bills on their regular-season schedule, and it’s unclear if Thomas would be able to make it back for those games or if the team might shut him down.

Another consideration is what’s best for Thomas himself in the long term, because he’ll become a free agent after this season.

“I’m not going to talk about the injury, but as a competitor, it’s hard to shut yourself down,” Thomas said. “It’s hard to accept that instead of fighting through something, it’s best for me to just rest. It’s hard to wrap your head around the words ‘just rest’ when everybody’s fighting.”

The Dolphins are hoping this is the year Thomas is named to his first Pro Bowl as a special teams contributor. ESPN’s calculations indicate that his fans stuffed the ballot box by retweeting votes in his favor at one of the highest rates of any player in the league. Question is, if Thomas is chosen, would he be able to appear in the Jan. 28 game in Orlando?

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[When Adam Gase gets upset with Jakeem Grant, he threatens to call his mom]

[Ndamukong Suh played every single snap in the win over New England]

[Dolphins’ Michael Thomas remains a special teams hero]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Dolphins’ locker room erupts into “rare” party after beating Patriots

Michael Thomas and the Dolphins celebrated big-time after beating New England. (Andres Leiva/The Post)

MIAMI GARDENS—There have been some library-level silences in the Dolphins’ locker room this season, even after some of the uglier wins. This was much more of a party.

After Miami toppled the Patriots 27-20 on Monday Night Football, the locker room was roaring as the music blasted and players took videos of themselves dancing in celebration. This was a good time to be a Dolphin.

“I’d like to think I’m not too high or too low, but I’m ecstatic,” said safety Michael Thomas, a team captain. “I’m definitely ecstatic about this one. I’m hyped because I know not too many people gave us a shot to win this game. They thought we was just rolling it in. I think we executed the game plan to a T.

“You hate the fact that it’s kinda rare, but you’ve got to enjoy it. We’re playing one-game seasons from here on out. A lot of guys are battling injuries. You see me. Everybody’s grinding right now.”

Thomas was at the center of the on-field party, too, when he came up with the onsides kick at the end to officially end it. New England had pulled within one score after a late field goal and tried to keep possession, but Thomas emerged from the scrum holding up the ball and screaming.

It was a nice moment for him considering the pain he’s played through over the past month or so. A knee injury has limited him since before the Carolina game, and he’s been relegated mainly to special teams.

“At that point, that’s the biggest play of the game,” he said. “For (the special teams unit) to have the game on the line and make that play, you want to be in that situation and make those types of plays. Felt great.

“Every single guy in this locker room is putting everything on the line. I’ve been battling an injury for over a month, but so have a lot of other guys. The team, the coaches, they’re trying to keep us healthy. We’re laying it all on the line for the guy next to us.”

Thomas is planning to auction off his retro jersey from the game and the actual football he recovered at the end to raise money for charity.

[Dolphins’ stunning upset of Patriots makes everything worth it]

[Five takeaways from the Dolphins’ 27-20 win over New England]

[Grading the Dolphins after they beat the Patriots]

[RELATED: Exclusive photos from the Dolphins’ huge MNF win over the Patriots]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

NFL playoffs: Dolphins downplay their chances after upsetting Patriots

The Dolphins are one game out of the playoffs. (Andres Leiva/The Post)

MIAMI GARDENS—The Dolphins legitimately have a shot at cracking the postseason. It seemed like a pipe dream two weeks ago, but it’s very much real after they beat the Patriots 27-20 on Monday.

It’ll still take a lot to get there, likely winning out, but Miami is currently 6-7 and one game out of the final spot. That doesn’t appear to be on players’ minds, however.

“No,” Jay Cutler said, before looking over to a team representative and asked, “Do we have Buffalo next?”

They do.

“We play Buffalo next,” he said. “That’s kind of where our mindset is at.”

The Dolphins end the season with a trip to Buffalo this week, a visit to Kansas City on Christmas Eve and a home game against the Bills. Both opponents are 7-6.

The Bills, Ravens and Chargers are tied for the No. 6 spot at 7-6, followed by the Raiders and Dolphins.

If the Titans (8-5, the No. 5 seed) slide, Miami would have the tie-breaker over them by virtue of a win in October.

That gives Miami a shot to sneak in, but again, that’s not a popular conversation topic in the locker room.

“We’re not even thinking about that,” safety Michael Thomas said. “Obviously everyone’s looking at playoff scenarios and what we’ve gotta do to get in, but we’re just trying to go win one game this week.”

[Dolphins’ stunning upset of Patriots makes everything worth it]

[Five takeaways from the Dolphins’ 27-20 win over New England]

[Grading the Dolphins after they beat the Patriots]

[RELATED: Exclusive photos from the Dolphins’ huge MNF win over the Patriots]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

NFL national anthem protest: 3 Dolphins kneel on Monday Night Football

Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas kneeled during the national anthem tonight. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

MIAMI GARDENS–Three Miami Dolphins players continued their season-long demonstration by kneeling during the national anthem for tonight’s nationally televised game against the Patriots.

Wide receiver Kenny Stills, tight end Julius Thomas and safety Michael Thomas all took a knee behind their standing teammates on the sideline as retired Naval Petty Officer First Class Generald Wilson sang the Star-Spangled Banner. Michael Thomas has kneeled since the start of the year, and Julius Thomas and Stills started in Week 3. Stills also kneeled last season.

The only interruption to their protest, which is a statement against social and racial injustice in the United States, came when coach Adam Gase implemented a rule in October mandating that all players stand for the national anthem or remain off the field. That changed about a month later, when the players asked Gase to lift the ban and allow them to maintain their pre-game routine.

[RELATED: Exclusive photos from the Dolphins-Patriots Monday Night Football game]

Despite going against the wishes of Gase and owner Stephen Ross, who said in October it was time for players to stand, Stills is a team captain and was the organization’s nominee for Walter Payton Man of the Year. He is wearing a Man of the Year sticker on his helmet for the remainder of the season.

The winner among the 32 nominees will be announced Feb. 3, and that player will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice as well as another $250,000 to Character Playbook. Two other finalists will get two donations of $100,000 as outlined for the winner, and the rest will get donations of $50,000.

[Ndamukong Suh has it out for Patriots QB Tom Brady]

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[Adam Gase has his finger on exactly what’s gone wrong vs. New England Patriots]

Check out The Palm Beach Post‘s Miami Dolphins page on Facebook

Miami Dolphins’ Michael Thomas severs ties with Anquan Boldin’s coalition

Dolphins players Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills continue to kneel for the national anthem. (Getty Images)

DAVIE — Dolphins safety Michael Thomas has severed ties with the Players Coalition, a group whose leaders include Pahokee’s Anquan Boldin, as the NFL submitted a proposal to the coalition that would contribute almost $100 million to causes seeking social justice.

Thomas, one of three Dolphins who kneel during the national anthem, is expected to meet with the South Florida media on Wednesday afternoon to explain his decision.

ESPN quoted 49ers safety Eric Reid as saying he and Thomas are withdrawing from the coalition over a lack of transparency in the negotiations.

“The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents NFL Athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism,” Thomas and Reid wrote on Twitter. “However, Malcolm (Jenkins) and Anquan can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole.”

Reid, who joined Colin Kaepernick by kneeling, told ESPN, “Myself and other protesting players are departing from the Players Coalition because we aren’t satisfied with the structure of the Players Coalition and the communication that’s been happening between Malcolm and the NFL. Myself and the aforementioned protesting players have voiced these concerns numerous times to Malcolm, concerning the structure of the organization and how we want to be involved more with the NFL in those communications. It has not transpired.”

ESPN reported that the national funding would be allocated with 25 percent to the United Negro College Fund, 25 percent to Dream Corps and 50 percent to the Players Coalition, which has filed 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) paperwork for nonprofit status.

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What went wrong for Dolphins when Patriots burned them on fake punt?

A rare mental error by Michael Thomas cost the Dolphins big at New England. (Allen Eyestone/The Post)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—Miami got off to as good a start as it could have wanted today at Gillette Stadium. On the opening possession, the Dolphins forced what looked like it’d be a three-and-out for New England that would send the ball back to them with less than a minute off the clock.

Didn’t happen.

On fourth-and-eight from his own 27-yard line, Bill Belichick called a fake punt that resulted in safety Nate Ebner running free for 14 yards and a first down as Michael Thomas and Neville Hewitt tried to chase him down. Thomas, the Dolphins’ best special teams player, took full accountability for the lapse.

“That’s my job,” he said of recognizing the fake punt. “That’s something I’ve gotta get done. You could say the momentum shifted. The defense was off the field with a three-and-out to start the game. That’s huge. We can’t but them back on the field after that. Put that blame on me.”

Thomas’ critical error was failing to notice that the Patriots lined up Ebner to the punter’s right instead of his usual spot on the left. That position is known as the personal protector in special teams lingo, and it should have alerted Thomas that something wasn’t right.

“Pretty much, you could put that on me,” he said. “I was the edge of the defense. I’ve gotta see that their P.P. is on my side. He’s normally not there. Regardless of what the situation is, I’m the edge of the defense and I’ve gotta stop it.”

The Patriots kept driving and had a touchdown four plays later to go ahead 7-0. They scored on three of their first four chances to build a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter and went on to win 35-17.

[Bill Belichick shows the Dolphins what he really thinks of them]

[Grading the Dolphins after a 35-17 loss at New England]

[Is DeVante Parker to blame for another interception?]

[RELATED: Photo gallery from the Patriots’ shellacking of the Dolphins]

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