FOXBORO -- The numbers tell the story.
Through the first quarter of play between the Patriots and the Dolphins, Miami had accumulated just 12 yards of offense and hadn't completed a pass. By halftime, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his teammates had put up 149 yards of offense, and by game's end that number ballooned to 459 yards.
Dolphins receivers Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker finished the game with 137 and 106 yards receiving, respectively, and the thought was that perhaps the Patriots were playing a "prevent" style defense for much of the game after jumping out to a 24-0 lead late in the second quarter.
That wasn't the case said Patriots safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty.
"You'd much rather play with the lead than play behind, but we did everything in the second half," McCourty said. "[Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia] called everything we got, basically. It's just, I don't think we played well as players going out there. It wasn't trying to defend the deep ball. It wasn't play-calls. It was us just not playing well."
Though the momentum of the game seemed to shift when starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo left with a shoulder injury, McCourty said the change behind had center had little effect on the mentality of the Patriots defense.
Was there pressure to step up with Garoppolo out?
"Well we didn't," McCourty answered. "For us, it's just keep trying to play good football. Keep playing. We try not to concern ourselves with what's going on offensively. We keep the same mentality: Go out there, getting the ball back, turnovers, three-and-outs. We'll always play well offensively if we just keep getting them the ball. Whatever we were thinking didn't work."
The Patriots defense was, however, playing at less than full strength.
* It was without linebacker and captain Dont'a Hightower, who not only serves in a key role as a pass-rusher and run-stuffer, before the game began as he continues to deal with a knee injury he suffered against Arizona in Week 1.
* Corner Malcolm Butler was limited throughout practice last week with an ankle injury, and he was in coverage for eight of Tannehill's 32 completions.
* Safety Patrick Chung seemed to be banged up for significant portions of the game and was picked on for four receptions in coverage, including a 12-yard touchdown to tight end Jordan Cameron in the fourth quarter.
* And on that Cameron touchdown, Jamie Collins appeared to be shaken up, though he was back on the field for the team's subsequent series.
"I don't think anybody emotionally let down or anybody was like, 'Hey, we're gonna give up a bunch of yards,' " defensive end Chris Long said. "They're a good football team. I'm sure we made some mistakes, and we need to go look at them. We'll fix those things and move on."
Long was one of the bright spots defensively for the Patriots. He finished the game with six total quarterback pressures, including a whopping four quarterback hits, one tackle for a loss following a bad Dolphins shotgun snap and one batted pass.
Two of Long's hits resulted in pass attempts that were picked off. One came late in the second quarter, when Collins stepped in front of a Tannehill offering. The other came on Miami's final offensive play of the game, when safety Duron Harmon went up and snagged Tannehill's desperation heave for the end zone.
When Long saw Harmon come down with the football, he raised both of his hands over his head in celebration. It had been an ugly three quarters for the Patriots defense, but they made a play when they needed it.
"I was excited for those guys," Long said. "I was excited for us. We won the game with that. It comes down to, through all that we played for that whole game and the ups and downs of it, it comes down to one play and Duron made a great play. He went up and got it. It's a team effort, and when it's your time to make a play, you gotta make a play."
They'll hope to string a few more plays together, and string them together on a more consistent basis, when the Texans visit on Thursday.
"We'll fix those things, and it's a short week," Long said. "We got to fix them in a hurry.